This is not just a how-to book – the author also tells us about personal clothing she wore in her 20′s and what she plans to wear now and in the future for special occasions (e.g., to her daughter’s graduation which her ex and his very young new wife will be attending!). She gives us examples of famous women’s styles (Diane Keaton deciding against any form of plastic surgery and Madonna constantly re-inventing herself) and reminds us that since our bodies have changed as they’ve aged we will also have to change our clothes style, paying careful attention to our closets long before an event rears its (perhaps totally unexpected) head.
Kim Johnson Gross is a former Ford model and has built a career as a fashion editor at Town & Country magazine, yet reading her book feels like (wonderfully) listening to a best friend or a next door neighbor (but one with expertise). She addresses hats, undergarments, sunglasses, reading glasses, and even the possibility of hearing aids in the future: “Today some hearing aids can be mistaken for an Ipod or cell phone, and combine wireless and Bluetooth connectivity to streamline cell phone calls. There are models that look like a groovy earring in animal prints, psychedelic colors, or – for the luxe consumer – alligator. And if you can’t imagine a hearing aid being the new head jewelry, there’s a device that could become the contact lenses of hearing aids – invisible to the eye.” One story Kim tells (about when she worked part-time at Porter Rogers Associates) is: “A legendary story told in the art department was how Lauren Bacall chastised the art department for retouching the wrinkles out of her portrait. I was only twenty-five at the time, but it left a lifelong impression on me. I admired her wish to keep them as testament to a life rich in experienes rather than having them erased. Culturally we are trained to see wrinkles and think old while Bacall claimed they were emblematic of living.” Kim advises us about new hair cuts and coloring, that “Taaz.com is one of the many sites where you can upload your photograph to see how you look with different hairstyles and makeup color. It helps take the guessing out of change.”
Well-organized and user-friendly, and particularly comprehensive, this book surprised me because its pesonal story-telling element makes it so much more than a style handbook! Kim even reveals bodily flaws that she’s developed as she’s aged (as we all do, no matter how careful we are) and what she does to combat and conceal them. She talks about keeping a “feel-good” closet that contains clothes that you feel are especially flattering to you or make you feel and look more youthful (you don’t have to wear black every second!).
I love this book that’s filled with suggestions and tricks that can be used at any age, like Assess, Dejunk and Renew, and with quotes from “regular” people: “The last time I cleaned out my closet, I found clothes with the price tags on!” – Lise, an attorney from Providence, Rhode Island, and “I was a sales kitten in my twenties, had the classic older-sister look in my thirties, and now I’m the hip sales matriarch” – Judy from Wisconsin. You don’t have to read this book straight through but can focus on certain chapter headings or just flip through and stop at whatever interests you. I recommend it to every woman who wears clothes!
What To Wear For The Rest Of Your Life – Ageless Secrets of Style, by Kim Johnson Gross, on sale May 3, 2010, in hardcover by Springboard Press, 288 pages.
Reviewed by Christina Zawadiwsky
Christina Zawadiwsky is Ukrainian-American, born in New York City, has a degree in Fine Arts, and is a poet, artist, journalist and TV producer. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Award, two Wisconsin Arts Boards Awards, a Co-Ordinating Council of Literary Magazines Writers Award, and an Art Futures Award, among other honors. She was the originator and producer of Where The Waters Meet, a local TV series created to facilitate the voices of artists of all genres in the media, for which she won two national and twenty local awards, including a Commitment to Community Television Award. She is also a contributing editor to the annual Pushcart Prize Anthology, the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and has published four books of poetry. She currently reviews movies for http://www.movieroomreviews.com, music for http://www.musicroomreviews.com, and books for http://www.bookroomreviews.com.