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Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet

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From a bestselling fashion guru—a fascinating, meticulously researched history of Western fashion covering every topic from the history of the high heel to the origin of blue jeans. In the beginning there was the fig leaf... and the toga. Crinolines and ruffs. Chain mailand corsets. What do these antiquated items have to do with the oh-so-twenty-first-century skinny jea From a bestselling fashion guru—a fascinating, meticulously researched history of Western fashion covering every topic from the history of the high heel to the origin of blue jeans. In the beginning there was the fig leaf... and the toga. Crinolines and ruffs. Chain mailand corsets. What do these antiquated items have to do with the oh-so-twenty-first-century skinny jeans, graphic tee, and sexy pumps you slipped into this morning? Everything! Fashion begets fashion, and life—from economics to politics, weather to warfare, practicality to the utterly impractical—is reflected in the styles of any given era, evolving into the threads you buy and wear today. With the candidness, intelligence, and charm that made him a household name on Project Runway, Tim Gunn reveals the fascinating story behind each article of clothing dating back to ancient times, in a book that reads like a walking tour from museum to closet with Tim at your side. From Cleopatra’s crown to Helen of Troy’s sandals, from Queen Victoria’s corset to Madonna’s cone bra, Dynasty’s power suits to Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits, Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible takes you on a runway-ready journey through the highs and lows of fashion history. Drawing from his exhaustive knowledge and intensive research to offer cutting-edge insights into modern style, Tim explains how the 1960s ruined American underwear, how Beau Brummell created the look men have worn for more than a century, why cargo capri pants are a plague on our nation, and much more. He will make you see your wardrobe in a whole new way. Prepare to be inspired as you change your thinking about the past, present, and future of fashion!


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From a bestselling fashion guru—a fascinating, meticulously researched history of Western fashion covering every topic from the history of the high heel to the origin of blue jeans. In the beginning there was the fig leaf... and the toga. Crinolines and ruffs. Chain mailand corsets. What do these antiquated items have to do with the oh-so-twenty-first-century skinny jea From a bestselling fashion guru—a fascinating, meticulously researched history of Western fashion covering every topic from the history of the high heel to the origin of blue jeans. In the beginning there was the fig leaf... and the toga. Crinolines and ruffs. Chain mailand corsets. What do these antiquated items have to do with the oh-so-twenty-first-century skinny jeans, graphic tee, and sexy pumps you slipped into this morning? Everything! Fashion begets fashion, and life—from economics to politics, weather to warfare, practicality to the utterly impractical—is reflected in the styles of any given era, evolving into the threads you buy and wear today. With the candidness, intelligence, and charm that made him a household name on Project Runway, Tim Gunn reveals the fascinating story behind each article of clothing dating back to ancient times, in a book that reads like a walking tour from museum to closet with Tim at your side. From Cleopatra’s crown to Helen of Troy’s sandals, from Queen Victoria’s corset to Madonna’s cone bra, Dynasty’s power suits to Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits, Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible takes you on a runway-ready journey through the highs and lows of fashion history. Drawing from his exhaustive knowledge and intensive research to offer cutting-edge insights into modern style, Tim explains how the 1960s ruined American underwear, how Beau Brummell created the look men have worn for more than a century, why cargo capri pants are a plague on our nation, and much more. He will make you see your wardrobe in a whole new way. Prepare to be inspired as you change your thinking about the past, present, and future of fashion!

30 review for Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet

  1. 4 out of 5

    Book

    I adore Tim Gunn, and reading this book was an absolute delight. It had two things that I love – history and fashion. As with his other books, Tim Gunn’s writing style makes it all so interesting and fun. While reading it, I could almost hear his voice narrating, which made it even more enjoyable. Some of my favorite quotes: ON AMERICAN FASHION DESIGNERS “I am especially concerned that American fashion not be forgotten. Once, I met the head of a hot design school in the Netherlands, and she expres I adore Tim Gunn, and reading this book was an absolute delight. It had two things that I love – history and fashion. As with his other books, Tim Gunn’s writing style makes it all so interesting and fun. While reading it, I could almost hear his voice narrating, which made it even more enjoyable. Some of my favorite quotes: ON AMERICAN FASHION DESIGNERS “I am especially concerned that American fashion not be forgotten. Once, I met the head of a hot design school in the Netherlands, and she expressed nothing but contempt for American design – an attitude I find very offensive when espoused by Europeans and downright tragic when held by Americans. When I look through ‘Project Runway’ applications, I am always struck by how few American designers are cited in their influences section. Invariably, the only designers they name are Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, and Coco Chanel – often misspelled ‘Channel.’ You only rarely see American designers listed. If you do, it’s usually Donna Karan. (I don’t understand why people don’t write Michael Kors – even just in their own political self-interest.)” “American fashion designers are doing so much in spite of severe disadvantages in the global fashion world. First of all, they have always needed to make money from their work. They’re not subsidized by the textile mills, as the French are. And they haven’t enjoyed any of the design piracy protections that exist in Europe. It’s hard to be a designer in America! It takes a lot of courage and feistiness. In short: up with America; up with fashion. If I never get invited back to Europe, or to another conference on structural garment design, I can live with that.” ON ATHLETIC WEAR “All over America, you see women in yoga pants and men in sweatpants, even when they are not on their way to or from a yoga class or softball field. When I fly, I see so many sweat suits – even pajamas – on my fellow travelers that it’s as though the airplane were the sleeper car of a train bound for summer camp or a gym in the sky, not a public space for business people and vacationers.” “This explosion of athletic wear and rompers is very ironic when you think about how much more sedentary we've become. As we've become less active and higher-tech, we're wearing more and more workout clothes.” ON FASHION MODELS “Fashion models today are so different from the women buying the clothes. That has not always been the case. If you look at issues of ‘Vogue’ or other fashion magazines from the 1950s, you’ll see models in possession of womanly (albeit spectacular) bodies and expressive, mature faces. Star models typically were over thirty, and they had curves. They just looked like extraglamorous versions of the women buying the dresses. Kay Thompson in “Funny Face”, 1957 It almost seems shocking now, when models are all in their teens and look as though they’re playing dress up. In 2011 there was a cover of French ‘Vogue’ featuring a ten-year-old model. Ten years old! Did she look ten? No, she looked twenty-five! What does that say to young people? I worry about the pressure this puts on teenagers and tweens.” ON FOOTWEAR HISTORY “… the long pointy, piked shoes (also called poulaines or crackowes) of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. An edict was passed in the 1300s banning all but the wealthiest citizens from wearing long poulaines. The clergy opposed these shoes for anyone, regardless of their station, perhaps because it was hard to kneel in prayer while wearing such pointy shoes. Also, perhaps, because they were overly phallic, especially when men wore flesh-colored ones with attached bells. The plague of 1347 was even blamed on the obscenity of the poulaine – nature’s retribution against inappropriate footwear as defined by the Church.” “All footwear until the middle of the nineteenth century was different from our modern shoes in one respect: they were made up of two straight shoes rather than one left and one right shoe. Shoes without distinction between the left and the right are called ‘straights,’ and would you believe that until 1900 – 1900! – many shoes were just that, such that you didn’t need to distinguish one shoe from the other?” ON GRAPHIC TEES “I’ll wear a graphic tee that says: ‘AIDS Walk,’ when I’m on the AIDS Walk. But generally graphic tees are for the young – and I’m not talking about the young at heart.” ON HAREM PANTS “Harem pants, one of the most costumey looks of the 1980s, sport a dropped crotch, which to me suggests you are wearing a diaper. Do any of us think that’s a good look?” ON MATCHING SHOES TO DRESSES “My advice: in so many cases, metallic hues can be your savior – in shoes, belts, and handbags. Women sometimes balk when I say that. My response: if you’re wearing jewelry, it’s probably silver, gold, or platinum. Why not do the same with your accessories?” ON PANTS, SOCKS, AND SHOES “So what’s the rule of thumb? Some say you should always match your socks to your shoes. Others say you should always match your socks to your pants. The correct answer is pants. And so in the case of jeans and brown shoes, I would go with navy socks. One note on sock-and-pant etiquette: if you’re wearing socks with dress pants, you should reveal no leg skin. It’s like a bare midriff: you don’t want to see it. It’s different if you’re wearing shoes without socks, which is fine in casual settings.” ON TRENDS “In my typical way, I declined to respond, saying that I didn't want anyone to run to a store just because I endorsed a trend. Besides, a trend is good only if it works for you, your wardrobe, and your lifestyle.” ON THE WRAP DRESS “The wrap dress is a very flattering style on any body type. You just need to make sure you fit the shoulders, and the rest of the dress takes care of itself. It makes women look feminine, pulled together, and at ease in the world. I encourage all women who are trying to update their work wardrobes to invest in a couple of flattering wrap dresses. It’s easy, one-step-dressing: it travels well, and it’s easy to care for. With a wrap dress and heels – a complete outfit that can fit in the average purse – you’re all set for a business meeting or dinner date.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marcie

    "Until...the Regency period..., daily bathing was far from common. The first deodorant wasn't patented until 1888. For thousands of years, people were grubby and literally lousy with bugs. A 1900 medical paper found that in the huge skirts that were the fashion of the day there were found large colonies of germs, including those of tuberculosis, typhoid, tetanus, influenza." Ewwwww!!! Awesome!! But they look so magnificent in their oil painting-portrait! lol Also, CoCo Chanel is the sh**! "Look a "Until...the Regency period..., daily bathing was far from common. The first deodorant wasn't patented until 1888. For thousands of years, people were grubby and literally lousy with bugs. A 1900 medical paper found that in the huge skirts that were the fashion of the day there were found large colonies of germs, including those of tuberculosis, typhoid, tetanus, influenza." Ewwwww!!! Awesome!! But they look so magnificent in their oil painting-portrait! lol Also, CoCo Chanel is the sh**! "Look at them," she said of women who wore (the ultracorseted look of Christian Dior), "Fools dressed by queens living out their fantasies. They dream of being women, so they make real women look like transvestites...They can barely walk. I made clothes for the new woman. She could move and live natually in my clothes." I have admired Tim Gunn and his vocabulary for some time now, and his book is exactly like having a conversation over lunch with him, dissecting fashion, art, history, movie stars, politics, sex, etc. He is a man of great charm and intelligence, who happens to be gay. I particularly enjoyed his rant blasting the fashion industry's recent foray into using BOYS as models to sell women's clothes. He called it the "ultimate cynicism," as if the industry is saying "Here is the perfect woman for our clothes: A boy!" Screw them. My favorite quote from the book: "To choose clothes, either in a store or at home, is to define and describe ourselves." Yes! And the best anecdote from the book: that crazy story about Diana Vreeland viewing the ruins of Pompeii on vacation, and coming eyeball-to-eyeball with a preserved diorama of a woman having "relations" with a slave (a volcanic eruption captured all manner of activities in AD 79 in situ!), and the thing she fixated on? The thong flip-flops the slave was wearing. She had the sandal reproduced, deeming it sublime in its simplicity. I'm wearing a pair of flip-flops myself right now. :^)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    I love Tim Gunn. This walks you through fashion history, garment by garment, and I loved it. It was super interesting and filled with classic Tim lines like, "The fall 2010 collections were full of black and white stripes similar to the original Breton. No one needs to know that those stripes were originally created to help sailors spot their drowning crew-mates bobbing in the ocean, but doesn't that information make a trip to Style.com that much more fun?" Yep. It totally does. There's are also I love Tim Gunn. This walks you through fashion history, garment by garment, and I loved it. It was super interesting and filled with classic Tim lines like, "The fall 2010 collections were full of black and white stripes similar to the original Breton. No one needs to know that those stripes were originally created to help sailors spot their drowning crew-mates bobbing in the ocean, but doesn't that information make a trip to Style.com that much more fun?" Yep. It totally does. There's are also tips on cultivating your closet (and getting rid of all cargo shorts). I also want to go out and learn everything about Claire McCardell, designer extraordinaire.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Idyll

    This book was completely educational for me. It shattered all my misconceptions about gender, class, ethnicity and timelessness as they pertain to fashion.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    A more proper title for this book would be: Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: Tim Gunn's Opinion on Clothes, with History in a Walk-On Role. I used to really like Tim Gunn. I love Project Runway, and he can be very grounding for the contestants. However, I then think about the things I don't like about Tim Gunn. He once called a model "zaftig" and blamed her for a contestant's ill-fitting clothes. My reaction to this was something like HULK SMASH!!!! He also seems to be a walking catchphrase. However, at A more proper title for this book would be: Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: Tim Gunn's Opinion on Clothes, with History in a Walk-On Role. I used to really like Tim Gunn. I love Project Runway, and he can be very grounding for the contestants. However, I then think about the things I don't like about Tim Gunn. He once called a model "zaftig" and blamed her for a contestant's ill-fitting clothes. My reaction to this was something like HULK SMASH!!!! He also seems to be a walking catchphrase. However, at other times I feel like he'd be a lot of fun to have a kaffeeklatsch with. Gunn freely admits to the fact that this is not an exhaustive history of clothing, or even Western clothing. It's a sort of overview, and he encourages readers to educate themselves further by picking up more in-depth, scholarly works. I applaud this. Too often, Famous People Who Write Books present themselves and their product as the end-all-be-all of . However. I found very little substance here, and too much of Tim Gunn holding forth on why he likes or dislikes a certain style of clothing. He often links a certain style with a moral judgement, and while this may be human nature, it's not right. For example, if you wear cargo capris, you are Sartorially Inept, a slob, and someone who's given up on themselves. Or ... you just might feel comfy in cargo capris. If this were really a history, he would note who first conceived of the cargo capri, and social factors into their popularity, etc. Mostly we get a rant about how they are ugly and unflattering (note: I do agree with him on the aesthetics). The chapter on suiting, as well as the chapter on vests (mostly there is a chapter on vests because Tim Gunn likes vests) engages in a lot of French-bashing. Evidently, the English "invented" the vest. In order to be patriotic, therefore, Gunn suggests: "Maybe instead we should have gone with the seventeenth-century British strategy and all taken to wearing vests." Oooh, ow, that hurts! Everyone's wearing vests! In that chapter, there also seems to be an implicit link between being American and being British, as if everyone who lives in the U.S. is somehow indebted to the British for design and should aspire to that aesthetic. This is more than slightly inaccurate. However, the thing that really got me (and as you can tell, I had a lot of angry feelings, mixed up with boredom) was the chapter on undergarments. Really, I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out Gunn was sponsored by Spanx or something. If this were Tim Gunn's world, everyone (and I mean everyone--you too, dudes) would be wearing shapewear. The absolute last thing I want to do is wrangle myself into some stretchy corset-by-another-name in order to wear some goofy dress, or present a slimmer profile. Way to reinforce body image stereotypes! Thou shalt be thin! If thou be not thin and sculpted, thou shalt wear undergarments that squash thy body into the media ideal! HULK SMASH! He even presents corseting as a good thing (!!!) and seems to thing we'd all be better if we went back to lacing ourselves up every day. I know that some women today wear corsets because they want to, or because they feel more supported and have less back pain, and hey, more power to them! But I do not subscribe to the view that the corset of times past was somehow liberating because it made your clothes look good. I got halfway through the book, and just started saying to myself, "I cannot ... I just canNOT with this book!" And thus, it is abandoned, and will be returned to the library. You are free to vilify me for reviewing a book I haven't actually finished (gasp!), but I have a feeling that it's all in the same vein. P.S. Don't forget your corset.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amy Bunn

    I really admire Tim Gunn, and he seems like he would be a great person to know. He's witty, intelligent, charming, and, of the utmost importance, he seems like an all-around nice guy. (I have to qualify this statement with the word "seem," because apparently TV editing can do wonders at portraying an individual however the producers choose. For all I know, once the cameras are off, he runs around cursing like a sailor and slapping Project Runway Designers upside the head, but I sincerely doubt i I really admire Tim Gunn, and he seems like he would be a great person to know. He's witty, intelligent, charming, and, of the utmost importance, he seems like an all-around nice guy. (I have to qualify this statement with the word "seem," because apparently TV editing can do wonders at portraying an individual however the producers choose. For all I know, once the cameras are off, he runs around cursing like a sailor and slapping Project Runway Designers upside the head, but I sincerely doubt it.) I think I'd really enjoy having dinner with him sometime... which I'm sure he will invite me to... any day now. Even so, I think he'd find my taste in fashion deplorable, and that was why I had to give this book three stars. While it was generally a good book, it left me with a sour taste in my mouth, and a neurosis about my own fashion shortcomings. I suppose I should have expected it, because one of Tim's specialties is providing fashion advice, but truthfully I dove into this book for its descriptive aspects, not its prescriptive. The evolution of culture over time is fascinating, and I was eager to see Tim's take on how fashion had changed over the years and the impetus behind those changes. If the focus stayed merely on that aspect, I would have been more comfortable with it. As it is, the book is still good, but not what I would call great. (So sorry, Tim, I'm a picky sort.) There were a lot of illustrations, which proved helpful for the fashion-challenged like myself, but there were still moments I wished for more. I also think it would be more helpful for the illustrations to appear in a more coordinated fashion (pun!) with the text. More than a few times, I found myself painstakingly trying to visualize a style he was describing, only to turn the page and find a large depiction of it. If the illustration had been one page earlier, I could have saved myself the trouble. I was also surprised that there was no chapter on jewelry. There were chapters on undergarments, belts, gloves, handbags, coats, and scarves. Why did jewelry get the short shrift? True, it's a mammoth topic to explore, but a brief overview of this important fashion accessory could have been fascinating. I wonder, for example, when the first evidence of jewelry appears in the archaeological record. Were those early pieces worn for religious or purely decorative reasons? Who first decided to stick a hole in someone's ear, so they could hang a bauble from it? How did men's jewelry differ from women's over time? And how were they similar? And if Tim wanted to move into the prescriptive aspects, he could have discussed what jewelry best complements certain clothing. Admittedly, part of my problem with this book-the tendency for it to tell a reader what should or shouldn't be worn-traces back to my own shortcomings in the area of fashion. Still, I'm curious what Tim's work could have been if he'd laid off the advice a little bit, and spent more time on the history. And Tim, while you're reading this, (As I know you inevitably will, because what author doesn't read every single review and commentary on his work? ;)) please keep in mind that my lukewarm review of this book does not reflect my overall opinion of you. You rock (or seem to), and I welcome your... forthcoming... very soon... invitation to dinner! :)

  7. 4 out of 5

    David

    Tim Gunn's writing style is extremely conversational and easy to read, and his voice (as heard on "Project Runway") comes through loud and clear. This book is great and highly addictive - I had not intended to read it, but Sarah brought it home and when I was leafing through it it completely hooked me. Gunn unsurprisingly has a lot so say, and has strong opinions about w,hat looks good, what doesn't, and although this is ostensibly more of a history book it contains a tremendous amount of his pe Tim Gunn's writing style is extremely conversational and easy to read, and his voice (as heard on "Project Runway") comes through loud and clear. This book is great and highly addictive - I had not intended to read it, but Sarah brought it home and when I was leafing through it it completely hooked me. Gunn unsurprisingly has a lot so say, and has strong opinions about w,hat looks good, what doesn't, and although this is ostensibly more of a history book it contains a tremendous amount of his perspective on what works (and how to "make it work" as he would say). He bemoans the creeping casualness of clothing - that yoga pants, tee shirts, and jeans have pretty much eaten the entire American wardrobe. His perspective is that clothing is a language by which you can express yourself, and limiting yourself to one mode of expression is like only learning twenty words - you might get by, but you'll certainly miss out on some conversations with interesting people! Some particular targets of his ire and wit are the cargo Capri pant, which bulks up women's legs while making them look shorter and heavier, yoga pants (which he says properly belong in a gym, not in the grocery store), the fanny pack (about which the less said the better), five-fingers shoes (he says "when exercising only!"), baseball caps worn indoors, and sweatpants on men (see yoga pants above). He points out that if you run into an ex in the grocery store, don't you want to look put together? A fortiori if it's someone more important! One refreshing thing abut Gunn's writing is s humility: in the section about neckties, he talks about how costume designer Rita Ryack taught him a tremendous amount, including finally cracking the pocket square code (complimentary rather than matching, color and pattern). All though the book, he lists his influences, and talks about the people who have taught him and others, praising many designers greatly (with a few choice words for some design failures along the way). I think the book does well as an occasional reference ("I need some new ties, what does Tim say?") and also as a lighthearted, fun way to think about clothing and how the choices we make influence the impressions we convey. Recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    I am not a fashion maven of any sort! I dont really even think about what I put on every day. However, I am a big fan of Tim Gunn. After watching him for many seasons on Project Runway, I love this man. He comes across on television as witty and fabulous, someone you would want as a close friend. His writing is even better! It takes talent to write a book about the condensed history of fashion and make it interesting--especially for us non-fashionistas! He has nailed it! This book is a fun overv I am not a fashion maven of any sort! I dont really even think about what I put on every day. However, I am a big fan of Tim Gunn. After watching him for many seasons on Project Runway, I love this man. He comes across on television as witty and fabulous, someone you would want as a close friend. His writing is even better! It takes talent to write a book about the condensed history of fashion and make it interesting--especially for us non-fashionistas! He has nailed it! This book is a fun overview of American fashion over the years. Gunn's writing style is similar to a letter from a friend dishing all the latest news! Some of it is laugh-out-loud funny. For example, Tim is not a fan of capri jeans. He feels that they flatter no one. He states: "At malls, I am tempted to set up the fashion equivalent of a guns-for-cash or needle exchange booth and call through a bullhorn:'Throw your cargo capris into the flaming trash can, step behind the screen and claim your wrap dress!' I would find it very cathartic...albeit very hot beside the pyre give the ubiquity of the look" Gunn covers the history of all of the main players in a wardrobe today, including t-shirts, underwear, jeans, skirts,dreses and pants. I learned a lot about the history with some tips on personal style. I highly recommend this book for both entertainment and information. Good job, Mr. Gunn! Will you move close by and become my BFF??

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    A light history of fashion, organized by article of clothing. I love learning about historical fashion, and while I knew some of this, I did learn quite a bit, and I liked Gunn's insights as well as the fact that it was interesting without being exhaustive which kept it engaging. I may not always agree with Gunn's opinions, but I loved that he was not shy about sharing them and that they were well-reasoned. He has some very strong negative feelings about cargo pants and trucker hats. Photos throu A light history of fashion, organized by article of clothing. I love learning about historical fashion, and while I knew some of this, I did learn quite a bit, and I liked Gunn's insights as well as the fact that it was interesting without being exhaustive which kept it engaging. I may not always agree with Gunn's opinions, but I loved that he was not shy about sharing them and that they were well-reasoned. He has some very strong negative feelings about cargo pants and trucker hats. Photos throughout help illustrate the text, and he laces the history with fashion advice with the theme of eschewing trends for what fits your body best. In the conclusion, he criticizes the modern fashion industry for moving from women models in their thirties with naturally curvy bodies in the 1950s, to today's hyper-skinny teen and even pre-teens modeling clothes meant for adult women, as well as the fact that many designers refuse to create clothes meant for anyone over size 12, even though the mean size in the US is 14P. I think this is primarily a history book, but I appreciated Gunn's sporadic advice, and I found the book inspiring me to go through my closet, and maybe do a little shopping....

  10. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    It's not really clear to me exactly what this book is supposed to be! There are lots of exclamation points throughout the text, giving it a dramatic quality, but there is also a fascinating array of facts about the clothes we wear and their history. Something like fashion history disguising as pop culture. Attitude and opinion are sprinkled in like grains of pepper, which seems to reflect the author's personality and persona as host of Project Runway. Trends and fads throughout the ages as well It's not really clear to me exactly what this book is supposed to be! There are lots of exclamation points throughout the text, giving it a dramatic quality, but there is also a fascinating array of facts about the clothes we wear and their history. Something like fashion history disguising as pop culture. Attitude and opinion are sprinkled in like grains of pepper, which seems to reflect the author's personality and persona as host of Project Runway. Trends and fads throughout the ages as well as the socio-economic implications of dress are covered, though I'd have to say that the illustrations are a little weak. Too many times I found myself wishing to see an illustration of something he described. One of the most interesting chapters for me was the one on the sweater where the author discusses the origins of knitting (as opposed to weaving) and compares the qualities of a knit vs. a woven fabric, then goes on to describe knitting patterns and their symbols and local references. All said and done, this book has a lot of information in it and it is presented in a light, amusing way that should appeal to a wide array of readers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca E.

    I try to invoke the spirit of Tim Gunn each and every day, and I am a better person when I succeed. Gunn embodies two seeming contradictions and, in the process, has gone a long way to elevate the fashion conversation. First, he is a gay man in the fashion industry who is his own complex person -- no condescending to "bitchy diva" or "every gal's darling, dishy best friend" stereotypes. Second, his books about fashion are written for educated adults; he avoids "let's deconstruct the trope of the I try to invoke the spirit of Tim Gunn each and every day, and I am a better person when I succeed. Gunn embodies two seeming contradictions and, in the process, has gone a long way to elevate the fashion conversation. First, he is a gay man in the fashion industry who is his own complex person -- no condescending to "bitchy diva" or "every gal's darling, dishy best friend" stereotypes. Second, his books about fashion are written for educated adults; he avoids "let's deconstruct the trope of the whalebone corset" verbiage, but he's not afraid to reference something that sends readers to google to "get" the reference. This book is organized around specific articles of clothing, placing each within its historical, social, economic, and aesthetic context. He does so with humor, articulacy and an insistence on kindness. I particularly appreciate his commitment to educating the public about the contributions of American designers, particularly the women, including Bonnie Cashin, Claire McCardell, and Hattie Carnegie.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The title of this book accurately summarizes its contents-- Tim Gunn: author and source of too many anecdotes. Check. Fashion: he makes a case for this word versus "style". Check. Bible: verses used are taken out of context. Check. Fascinating History: 100%! Check. Everything in Your Closet: right down to the underwear. Check. But the reason this is only getting two stars? Not enough pictures! Gunn would often reference how a particular piece of clothing has changed over the course of time, and of the The title of this book accurately summarizes its contents-- Tim Gunn: author and source of too many anecdotes. Check. Fashion: he makes a case for this word versus "style". Check. Bible: verses used are taken out of context. Check. Fascinating History: 100%! Check. Everything in Your Closet: right down to the underwear. Check. But the reason this is only getting two stars? Not enough pictures! Gunn would often reference how a particular piece of clothing has changed over the course of time, and of the ten (random number) stages of such an evolution, he would only have images of two of those incarnations. While I did pick up more interesting trivia to store with the rest of the fluff in my head, I didn't want to resort to simultaneously searching Google while reading this book. Maybe it's too much to expect, but as visually appealing as they are, food and fashion are two subjects in which books need to have plenty of pictures.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    We are cursed to live in the age of the fashion ascendance of the capri cargo pant. This book argues that people in general would be happier if their clothes were a little more uncomfortable, or at least if they wore "sweatsuit alternatives" as opposed to actual sweatsuits. Tim Gunn offers a quick look at all sorts of garments and the history of their development, from gloves to dresses to the suit. Sometimes he offers his analysis, as when he says there are two main dress silhouettes - draped o We are cursed to live in the age of the fashion ascendance of the capri cargo pant. This book argues that people in general would be happier if their clothes were a little more uncomfortable, or at least if they wore "sweatsuit alternatives" as opposed to actual sweatsuits. Tim Gunn offers a quick look at all sorts of garments and the history of their development, from gloves to dresses to the suit. Sometimes he offers his analysis, as when he says there are two main dress silhouettes - draped or fitted - and the draped is based on ancient Greece, and the fitted from ancient Egypt. This actually turns out to be practical advice for dress shopping, because you can think of which silhouette you are most drawn to, and choose styles based on that.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    After reading this book I feel capable of making small talk about the history of trousers, sweaters, underpinnings, and togas. I consider that a plus. My social group might not agree. I am really interested in going shopping and out for drinks with Tim Gunn now. I'm sure he will criticize every item of apparel I own but I would enjoy that because he's such an interesting chap. He's also motivated me to stop wearing yoga pants out in public after reading his book. Society should write him a thank After reading this book I feel capable of making small talk about the history of trousers, sweaters, underpinnings, and togas. I consider that a plus. My social group might not agree. I am really interested in going shopping and out for drinks with Tim Gunn now. I'm sure he will criticize every item of apparel I own but I would enjoy that because he's such an interesting chap. He's also motivated me to stop wearing yoga pants out in public after reading his book. Society should write him a thank you card for that. The one huge negative in the book was the constant reminders that he worked on Project Runway. Okay. One reminder was enough.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Glennis

    I read this book in bits and pieces over a period of time that worked out well since each chapter covered a different piece of clothing. Nothing was gone into huge detail but there were numerous footnotes and several other books were mentioned that would cover a certain article of clothing in much greater detail. Bits of fashion advice were sprinkled throughout the book and neat tidbits of history as well. A good gift book for someone fashion forward to see the roots of what they love so much.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    One of my favorite courses in college was fashion history. Reading this is like having Tim Gunn for your history professor. Every word is in the voice of Tim Gunn and I could just hear him describing the difference between the Roman and Egyptian style of dress. A great read especially if you have ever wanted to know why a woman's shirt buttons up the opposite way of a man's shirt. I won't tell you. You have to read the book. One of my favorite courses in college was fashion history. Reading this is like having Tim Gunn for your history professor. Every word is in the voice of Tim Gunn and I could just hear him describing the difference between the Roman and Egyptian style of dress. A great read especially if you have ever wanted to know why a woman's shirt buttons up the opposite way of a man's shirt. I won't tell you. You have to read the book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jenne

    The fashion history is interesting, and the illustrations are fun, and the fashion advice is useful, but the best part is Tim Gunn's random asides and reminiscences. The best was when he said something like "one of my favorite parts of Pee Wee's Big Adventure is..." and I was like, ONE of your favorite parts? You have multiple favorite parts of Pee Wee's Big Adventure?? Tim Gunn you are adorable. The fashion history is interesting, and the illustrations are fun, and the fashion advice is useful, but the best part is Tim Gunn's random asides and reminiscences. The best was when he said something like "one of my favorite parts of Pee Wee's Big Adventure is..." and I was like, ONE of your favorite parts? You have multiple favorite parts of Pee Wee's Big Adventure?? Tim Gunn you are adorable.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gaile

    This is a chatty book about the history of all the items in your closet. He also touches on the importance of cleaning out your closet periodically plus he can't seem to help inserting his own opinion on various items of wear including Americans are too casual!!!! This book was enlightening, fun and funny! I loved it! This is a chatty book about the history of all the items in your closet. He also touches on the importance of cleaning out your closet periodically plus he can't seem to help inserting his own opinion on various items of wear including Americans are too casual!!!! This book was enlightening, fun and funny! I loved it!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    Really awesome brief survey of costume history! And lots of fashion tips along the way. He dissects every item of clothing in our closets, showing how it evolved (or devolved) through history. Tim is brutally honest about certain trends in American fashion. He asks us to think more about our clothing choices every time we dress and respect those brilliant designers who brought us our wardrobes!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Metalpig

    Gloves need a comeback As Sun protection. I love hearing Tim Gunn's opinions, and enjoy the historical background. Nevertheless, they will pry my cargo crops from my cold dead fingers (thighs?) Gloves need a comeback As Sun protection. I love hearing Tim Gunn's opinions, and enjoy the historical background. Nevertheless, they will pry my cargo crops from my cold dead fingers (thighs?)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    Had to go back to the library before I finished it. Will check it out again. Loved what I did read. Really interesting plus I adore Tim Gunn.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I want to buy this book and have it as a reference. It can't be read in one sitting. It should be savored and returned to. I want to buy this book and have it as a reference. It can't be read in one sitting. It should be savored and returned to.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    It really reads as if Tim Gunn was going through your closet and decided to give you an impromptu history lesson. Lots of fun and interesting facts.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is wonderful and fun!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    Fun read on the history of everything in your closet, along with practical tips. I read it cover to cover but it's probably more fun to peruse on occasion a coffee table reference. Fun read on the history of everything in your closet, along with practical tips. I read it cover to cover but it's probably more fun to peruse on occasion a coffee table reference.

  26. 5 out of 5

    J

    Maybe 4.5. A really well researched, quality fashion book. The historical information gives it a timeless, educational quality. Loved Tim's dry wit & reserve. Minus a little bit because of modern morals inkiness that I sensed, but couldn't quite put my finger on. (Tim's reserve shields the reader from some issues the fashion world often throws in your face. But I still sensed it was there a bit, just under the surface.) Also because the last 100 pages dragged on. I was ready for the book to be d Maybe 4.5. A really well researched, quality fashion book. The historical information gives it a timeless, educational quality. Loved Tim's dry wit & reserve. Minus a little bit because of modern morals inkiness that I sensed, but couldn't quite put my finger on. (Tim's reserve shields the reader from some issues the fashion world often throws in your face. But I still sensed it was there a bit, just under the surface.) Also because the last 100 pages dragged on. I was ready for the book to be done before it actually ended. I enjoyed reading the history of various garments and fashions. It definitely gives the reader a good historical understanding of fashion. There is nothing new under the sun! But it is nice to know what you are evoking by referencing certain styles. Tim makes the argument well that our clothes speak for us, but the common man doesn't really understand what he is actually saying. I also appreciated the diagrams that showed the length and cut for various types of shirts, skirts and pants. Tim shares a considerable amount of personal information about himself. I now know what type of shapewear and underwear he uses. I learned that he is American, with American style preferences. (I assumed he was British. Doesn't he have an accent?) He also claims he can't afford $3K suits or private cars. Isn't he famous and rich? Apparently, he gets his suits from Banana Republic and rides the subway. I also learned that he is only 58. Somehow I thought he was older. Maybe I'm just getting older and my perception of what age makes someone "old" is changing. :-/ Tim had a LOT of opinions. Presented in an educated high-brow way, but still opinions. I agreed with about half and disagreed with about half. Loved that Cary Grant is his style icon. And that he despises sportswear as daily wear. I'm totally guilty of that, but I like that he has standards. Learning them might help me dress better. I also liked that he seemed more grounded than many in the fashion world. He did not espouse a more-is-more approach and seemed to have some conservative values. He called people fashion victims who mindless consumed fashion, especially brand names. With a background in physically creating garments, he seemed to notice and appreciate quality construction and design -- rather than just how much an item costs or which logo was on it. He also said he likes to help women work with that they have in their closets, rather then buying new clothes. Too bad I just purged my closets! He did believe in lists of "must have" items or styles. Also, interestingly, he is in favor of using the word "fashion" versus "style". Many others in the fashion industry now use "style" to describe good fashion sense and "fashion" to mean you are mindlessly chasing trends. Didn't like his stand against fur. Calling it "immoral and unnecessary" seemed a bit high handedly self-righteous. Especially when he is totally okay with the actual immoral modern morals of the fashion industry. And referring people to PETA (a domestic terror organization) for additional information is hardly good advice. I was sad to hear that all the companies his parent company owns (including Kate Spade) have made a commitment to be fur-free. I don't personally care about fur, but this seems like wasting energy on meaningless "moral" grounds (feeling superior and self-righteous without actually accomplishing anything of merit) and giving power to bad special interest groups. He also uses Hillary Clinton and Ellen DeGeneres as positive examples. And at the end, he attacks the bible and his misunderstanding of the sin of pride. Oh, and he presents an alternative creation story as fact (why man started wearing clothes) around p.110. How could you ever know that? He seemed neutral/slightly negative about law enforcement when referencing the tv show COPS. He makes a neutral reference to Padre Pio and his dressing standards for church/confession. He also really doesn't like the dirndl (the traditional German skirt). :-/ Oh, and he pointedly refuses to call "nude" nylons by that name because they are only nude on white women's legs. He insists on calling them tan. LOL. That is a bit rich. I spotted a few grammar/typo mistakes in this lengthy volume. Takeaways: Maybe shapewear is worth investigating. If I pile myself into too tight clothing, why not shapewear instead? One has definite benefits over the other. He also makes soft dresses and wrap dresses sound like appealing substitutes for yoga pants. Also, I was reminded that the Bermuda short is perfect for me - due to my age and sense of modesty. This wouldn't be a bad fashion book to own, so that you could reference it (especially the diagrams) in the future.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    I was aware of Tim Gunn from his work on Project Runway, which I’ve seen a time or two, however it was his interview on Fresh Air in May 2020 that inspired me to read this book. In the interview he spoke of his love of teaching, the importance of beauty and design and his early life and coming to awareness of his sexuality. I found him completely captivating and much more thoughtful than I had ever imagined. Fresh Air Interview with Tim Gunn - May 4, 2020 “Don't Worry, Even Fashion Guru Tim Gunn I was aware of Tim Gunn from his work on Project Runway, which I’ve seen a time or two, however it was his interview on Fresh Air in May 2020 that inspired me to read this book. In the interview he spoke of his love of teaching, the importance of beauty and design and his early life and coming to awareness of his sexuality. I found him completely captivating and much more thoughtful than I had ever imagined. Fresh Air Interview with Tim Gunn - May 4, 2020 “Don't Worry, Even Fashion Guru Tim Gunn Is Living In His Comfy Clothes” https://www.npr.org/2020/05/04/849145... I enjoyed reading “Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible,” it was lighthearted and insightful. If you’re a fashion novice, as I am, this seems a good introduction but if you study fashion or have a solid knowledge of the history or discipline you’ll likely be disappointed. The book is a general overview written for the average person, someone who may be cleaning out their closet and planning a wardrobe refresh. The 20 chapters are organized by articles of clothing, from underwear to jeans to dress shirts to handbags, he offers the history of the articles of clothing and highlights design transitions, essentially placing clothing in historical and social context. As expected, along the way he offers his perspective and tips for building a wardrobe. My favorite chapter was on sweaters. He begins by referencing the “cerulean sweater” scene from The Devil Wears Prada, which is the only scene I remember, where Miranda disdainfully tells Andy the lineage of her blue sweater. Then Gunn takes us to the Middle Ages, walks us through the history of knitting, references chainmail worn by soldiers, teaches us of Lord Cardigan and Lord Raglan who’s battle wear later inspired cardigan sweaters and raglan sleeves, and teaches us that the classic black and white striped sweater was originally designed for sailors to make easier to spot a crewman who may be drowning in the ocean. He ends by bringing us into the present day by way of the 1940’s sweater girls, the 1980’s Cosby sweaters, and the 1990’s grunge look. I’ll never think of sweaters the same way again! You may think of fashion as frivolous, however Tim Gunn clearly sees fashion as an important art form that reflects cultural values and gives individuals a medium for self expression.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    So, I'm usually reading about 3 or four books at a time: one that I spend the majority of my focus on, something spiritual, something light that I can read easily while eating breakfast and lunch, and if the first book is dark or upsetting, something I can read before I go to sleep. This was my breakfast/lunch choice for a couple of weeks. I've always loved fashion (I actually found a worksheet that my mom had saved from my first day of second grade; the teacher asked us to answer a series of qu So, I'm usually reading about 3 or four books at a time: one that I spend the majority of my focus on, something spiritual, something light that I can read easily while eating breakfast and lunch, and if the first book is dark or upsetting, something I can read before I go to sleep. This was my breakfast/lunch choice for a couple of weeks. I've always loved fashion (I actually found a worksheet that my mom had saved from my first day of second grade; the teacher asked us to answer a series of questions so she could get to know us, and the final question was something like: "Do you have any questions for me?" I wrote: "Can you tell me what the fashoins [obviously, I wasn't a world-class speller in second grade] for this fall will be?" Hilarious. Why I thought my second-grade teacher had Anna Wintour on speed dial is a question for the ages! :) Anyway, I've always loved Tim Gunn. His taste is impeccable, if conservative. His persona comes off as really down to earth and not snobbish (why is fashion often snobby, when it should just be another channel for self-expression?) and this book is really accessible.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    I really wanted to like this book, I really wanted it to be Bill Bryson's At Home, but for clothing, and it could have been that, but Tim Gunn cannot help himself and inserts his opinions and advice all over the place. His advice is overly prescriptive, outdated, and useless, and occasionally flat out wrong. It's also sometimes sexist, which I could almost have forgiven given the generation gap, but he goes on a whole tirade about how he's total not sexist you guys and how could anyone say that, I really wanted to like this book, I really wanted it to be Bill Bryson's At Home, but for clothing, and it could have been that, but Tim Gunn cannot help himself and inserts his opinions and advice all over the place. His advice is overly prescriptive, outdated, and useless, and occasionally flat out wrong. It's also sometimes sexist, which I could almost have forgiven given the generation gap, but he goes on a whole tirade about how he's total not sexist you guys and how could anyone say that, I actually ended up giving up on the book shortly after that. Gunn comes across as an extremely negative and judgmental person in this book and slowly it made me dislike him so much that even the good bits of history that I came for not enough to save the rest of the book. Anyone who isn't interested in being lectured on how wearing things that aren't flattering or are casual should avoid this book like the plague.

  30. 5 out of 5

    V Mignon

    I enjoyed this, Tim Gunn's voice is amusing and his asides on fashion, especially the dreaded capris, were fantastic. I am fascinated with fashion history so it was nice to receive a primer for what I might investigate further on. This is more of an introduction to fashion history and the articles within your closet. But I appreciated all of the history within. It's certainly given me more pride in the items I own, knowing where they originated or their original intent. For that matter, what we I enjoyed this, Tim Gunn's voice is amusing and his asides on fashion, especially the dreaded capris, were fantastic. I am fascinated with fashion history so it was nice to receive a primer for what I might investigate further on. This is more of an introduction to fashion history and the articles within your closet. But I appreciated all of the history within. It's certainly given me more pride in the items I own, knowing where they originated or their original intent. For that matter, what we consider to be definitive men's clothing and definitive women's clothing has only existed as such for a very short amount of time. This is definitely a fun read, but it's secretly educational as well.

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