Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Review: The Sartorialist

I'm reading so many books right now for school, but every now and then something completely fun creeps in. Last semester I had the chance to read Retail Hell for a class (I still can't believe that book was homework!). If you missed my review for that, read it here.

There've been a few others than have managed to sneak into my reading pile and I thought I'd share some with you. Well, the ones that don't have long and complicated titles and aren't about rhetorical theory. :)

Today I'd like to share with you The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman. Published by Penguin Books in 2009 you can find it in paperback form on Amazon for $16.50 or wherever you like to get your books. This book magically found it's way into my Amazon order at the start of the spring semester with a bunch of text books (I don't know how that happened :) How strange!).

The book is a collection of images that first appeared on Scott's blog of the same name, check that out here (seriously, check it out, it's amazing). I first found Scott's blog when I was researching fashion blogs for my seminar paper last semester. I ended up going with a different blog for the paper but bookmarked The Sartorialist on my computer and return to it frequently. His images are amazing.

The book is just as brilliant as his blog, featuring images of fashion on the street. Random people he crosses paths with in New York, Paris, Milan, and more. These aren't all models and celebrities (though they do make the occasional appearance) but mostly are just everyday people.

What I love about this book, and the blog, is seeing all the different ways that fashion and style is interpreted by people around the world. What you will find in the pages of this book are not bland copies of what you see within the pages of the top fashion magazines. Instead, you will find interesting, unique, quirky, beautiful people, dressing for themselves and expressing themselves through their clothing. As Scott says in the opening pages of his book, "I have been sharing photos with my audience on a daily basis for the past four years, and over the course of that time I have begun to see my images more as a social document celebrating self-expression than as a catalogue for skirt lengths or heel heights" (5).

Part of my research at school is examining the rhetoric of fashion, what we wear, why we wear it, and what our choices say about ourselves and our personalities. This book is a perfect case study for that research. Most of the outfits I see I wouldn't wear on my own, because they don't speak to my personality. But the outfits I see make me think a little differently, and a little more outside the box, about how I might combine items in my own closet. Scott goes on to say in his introduction, "I hope that, while looking at the images in this book, you will begin to see fashion and style in a different light: that you make it yours, let yourself get inspired and experience a deeper enjoyment of your own sartorial expression" (7). That is exactly how I feel as I go through this book.

Another great thing about this book? It's mostly pictures. So for my poor burnt out brain, at the end of a long day of studying, or even as a mid-study brain vacation, flipping through the pages is pure visual heaven! I really don't have any time to read books that aren't part of my class reading list, but with The Sartorialist, whether I have 5 mins or 50, I can enjoy the book and not feel like I have to take a ton of time to get back into it.

This book is a must read/look for anyone with a love of fashion and art. You won't regret the purchase. And when you're done, just visit the original blog for more! (In case you missed that link above, I'll give it to you again, you have not excuses now! Check it out here.)


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