The Classic Ten: The True Story of the Little Black Dress and Nine Other Fashion Favorites

Nancy Macdonell Smith, Author, Nancy Macdonell Smith, Author
Nancy Macdonell Smith, Author, Nancy Macdonell Smith, Author Penguin Books $14 (224p) ISBN 978-0-14-200356-5
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Smith's endearing and quirky book centers on colorful myths, historical facts, meanings, methods and many other allures surrounding 10 wardrobe basics. The stars here are the little black dress, the suit, the cashmere sweater, the white shirt, the high heel, the trench coat, blue jeans, pearls, lipstick and sneakers. MacDonell Smith, the fashion news and features director at Nylon magazine, chose these items for their glamour and simplicity. Her analysis ranges from the historically-based (""The most potent permutation of white-shirt innocence was the version worn by schoolgirls... young, naive, virginal"") to the celebrity-based (Isabella Rossellini on suits:""Men's suits... are incredibly comfortable and sexy""). It's a cute idea, although the book tends to get bogged down by too much text and not enough art. Sidebars and photos are conspicuously absent, and only die-hard fashionistas may have the ambition to persevere through the entire work.
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