Book Review: Closet Confidential (Style Secrets Learned the Hard Way)

I always wear white after Labour Day, my shoes rarely match my bag, and I’ll throw on some “plastic shizzz” whenever the mood strikes. Fashion rules are boring. What gives someone the authority to tell a girl what should or shouldn’t be in her closet? Winona Dimeo-Ediger understands this. In Closet Confidential, she gives practical, down-to-earth fashion advice but never deigns to tell readers what they should or shouldn’t be wearing. She discusses general rules and shares her personal likes and dislikes, but throughout, she encourages readers to break these rules and forge a style of their own.

Closet Confidential is essentially my friend Kristen in book form. In high school, I would never shop without her. She had an eclectic yet classy style, and a knack for seeing what would look good on others. Whether we were at Value Village or the mall, Kristen would shove me into change rooms with piles of clothes I wouldn’t even consider on my own.

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Met Gala: Best (dresses) of the Worst (lists)

With all the different things I love about fashion, over-groomed starlets wearing expensive dresses is not usually at the top of the list. I’ve usually already seen their clothes at preceding fashion weeks, and so there is generally very little exciting about seeing them again on unnaturally shiny celebrities. I am more interested in the Met Costume Institute exhibition than I am interested in who wore what at the gala that opened it (well ok, with the exception of Chloe Sevigny).

However, as things tend to happen following an event of this sort, the entertainment blogs and mags like to divvy up the looks into the thoroughly scientific categories of what is “hot” and what is “not.” The best dressed lists seem to consist of those who were the most traditionally pretty: buzz words like “flattering” and “feminine” get thrown around. Which, naturally, leaves everything else to the worst dressed list. Perhaps it is my inner contrarian that needs to defend the honour of the riskier pieces, perhaps I just like to cause a fuss with my clothes (like that time in the tenth grade I went to school wearing leg warmers over flared jeans in order to prove a point to my mom – a point which I cannot remember, but it was important, let me tell you). Yeah, yeah, we all know Marion Cotillard and the legions of ladies in sparkling floor length gowns looked nice, but they’ve gotten enough praise already.

Here are my choices for looks that got unfairly slammed by the critics:

I decided I would put Kristen Stewart (wearing Chanel Haute Couture) first because 1) it was probably the most universally panned by bloggers and 2) got your attention, didn’t it? MTV says: “Her outfit last night looked like a prom dress gone wrong. Essentially, the cut and shape were totally unflattering.” Maybe it’s just because the girls who covered teen magazines when I used to buy them a long time ago (read: 2004) tended to be impossibly sunny and dressed in technicolour poufs (you wanna talk prom dresses gone wrong?) Either way, I can appreciate the existence of a teen queen who prefers to wear a sheer skirt on the red carpet and who doesn’t know how to fake a smile if her life depended on it. I swear I’m not just saying that in an attempt to get page hits from Twilight fans.

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Pi Phi Fo Fum

It is a little known fact, even among my close friends, that I was once a member of a sorority. In 1991, Delta Psi Delta was pretty new. They had big dreams of someday being absorbed by the national “Tri Delts” (immortalized on SNL with the phrase, “Delta Delta Delta, can I help ya help ya help ya?”) but, like a small magazine looking for a grant, they still had to prove themselves worthy. That year I was just cresting my Androgynous Grunge Angst period and hardly a candidate for sorority life, but I suspect they were sort of desperate for rushes (applicants). Every girl that showed up at our first meeting had been personally invited. I had reservations, but I figured my chances of ever again experiencing this particular slice of life were slim; I thought what the hell? When I walked in wearing a plaid flannel shirt and army boots, no one batted an eye.

Over the next eight months I attended charity events and made friends with our “Greek brothers” in the Acadia fraternity – boys who, when I ran out of money at the holidays, personally set up a driver relay to get me home for free. I decided popular depictions of sororities as petty, fascist dictatorships were overly harsh.

Here is a six page list, forwarded by the president of the Pi Phi sorority at Cornell to all new rushes outlining what dress will be considered acceptable for sorority events. (No “plastic shizzz” please.)

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