I’ve been a fan of the ‘Worn Stories’ project for a couple of years, and a have a habit of fervently checking the website once a week on the off chance that a new post might’ve popped up. There hasn’t been one for a while, but in the meantime the two books which have sprouted out of the project have kept me entertained – Worn Stories and Worn in New York.
This is the second review in my ongoing series of things to do, read and watch which might make you feel a little more inclined to go that extra mile for your wardrobe. The first post was a book review of ‘Women in Clothes’,so feel free to have a read of that if you like!
What is the book about?
So – there are two books, but the basic premise is exactly the same in both. Here’s the summary of the whole project, exactly as it is written on wornstories.com, and then I’ll describe the books in my own words afterwards:
Our clothes are full of memory and meaning. That’s why we all have garments—hanging in our closets, shoved in the back of drawers, and boxed up in garages—which we haven’t worn in years but just can’t part with. And there are the clothes we wear every day whose stories are still unfolding. Everyone has a memoir in miniature in at least one piece of clothing. The first-person accounts Emily Spivack has collected in WORN IN NEW YORK and WORN STORIES reveal how those clothes protect us, serve as a uniform, assert our identity, or bring us back to a place and time—how they are encoded with the stories of our lives.
Worn Stories was the first book published, and contains a collection of stories written by all sorts of people about all sorts of items of clothing from all sort of places. Worn in New York is exactly the same – except all of the stories are New York-specific!
The ‘stories’ are about an item of clothing to which that that particular person has a strong memory or emotion attached. Worn Stories “offers a revealing look at the clothes that protect us, serve as a uniform, assert our identity, or bring back the past—clothes that are encoded with the stories of our lives.”. Effectively, Emily Spivack (the creator of the project and book) contacts certain people or has stories submitted to her with a page or two of writing which tells us what the item of clothing is and how it came to be so important to that person, and a full-colour photograph of the garment which the person is chatting about. If you’d like to see an example of what I’m talking about, here are a couple of my favourite stories from the website – the books follow exactly the same format (although the pictures are of a much higher quality in the books, and are taken against a white background – these have been submitted to the website, so the people have included their own photos).
I’d recommend having a read of some of the stories on the Worn Stories website before you commit to buying the book, so that you can get a feel of whether it’s something you’d enjoy reading. The books are both, from my understanding, written by Emily Spivack – the majority of the stories end ‘as told by… to Emily Spivack’ – this means that there’s a really consistent writing style throughout, and it’s one which is (in my opinion, anyway) incredibly readable and eloquent, which makes it easy to read four or five of the stories in one go!
How is the book relevant to clothing care?
It might seem a little bit counter-intuitive that I’m telling you to visit this website and read these books in order to get your clothing care mojo up when most of the garments in these stories are battered, holey and threadbare. But I’m not recommending this site or these books because the clothes have been well cared-for – instead, I think you should read them because it’ll make you think about all of the memories attached to your own clothes, shoes, accessories and jewellery in your own wardrobe.
My goal with this series of recommendations is to give you a reason to want to look after the things in your wardrobe rather than just feeling like you have to. And I think realising the sentimentality of the things you own is a good way of doing that!