Saturday, August 6, 2016

Wife Dressing by Anne Fogarty: a Review

After months of languishing on my nightstand I've finally finished Wife Dressing: the Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife by Anne Fogarty.

Illustration by Renee Forsyth

It's okay to roll your eyes at the title but consider this: Wife Dressing was published in 1959 and was republished here in the U.S. in 2008 and in Britain in 2011. It's in print nearly sixty years later! There must be a reason for that, right? Although few people today would think of aiming fashion advice solely at married women, many of Anne's tips about fashion, travel, and entertaining are still applicable today. 

While some of her advice is dated given that it is the 21st century, Anne Fogarty was very liberated for her time as most married women with children did not work in the 1950s. Anne was a successful fashion designer for Saks Fifth Avenue when she wrote Wife Dressing. She is credited with developing the "Paper Doll Silhouette" (a full skirt over petticoats inspired by Dior's "New Look") and created a line of dresses sold at Lord & Taylor. She designed until 1980, the year of her death.

via Pinterest
via fuzzylizzie

via Pinterest
The short chapter "The Delicate Matter of Bargains" caught my attention this summer. July and August are typically huge sale seasons here and in Europe as retailers clear out their spring and summer stock to make room for new fall designs. It's a great time to shop for deals on basics and classic pieces that will stand the test of time even though you'll have to wade through plenty of trendy styles before finding those timeless pieces. And with so much interest these days in simple living, minimalism, and especially decluttering (Konmari, anyone?) this chapter was a great reminder that just because something is marked down it doesn't really mean it's a bargain. To Anne, a bargain is something that:

"I really adore, never tire of wearing; something that makes me feel good that has given me more than my money's worth in terms of fun and confidence and the pleasure of being dressed."

In concert with simple living principles and one of Marie Kondo's guiding questions "Does it spark joy?" are six questions Anne wants you to ask yourself the next time you find a bargain on one of your shopping trips:
  1. Is it something I really want?
  2. Is it in perfect condition?
  3. Is it the right size?
  4. Is it still in style?
  5. Does it fulfill a wardrobe need?
  6. Will it pay its own way as a member of my wardrobe,
    not just loll as a temporary guest in the back of the closet?
In Anne's words: 

"Each of your answers will give you a clue as to whether or not the bargain is really a bargain.
If it's not something you want, you'll keep making excuses to avoid wearing it--or wear it and wish you hadn't. However much you like it, if it doesn't fit in with your other clothes,
do yourself a favor and forget it."

The foundation of Anne's approach is common sense with a healthy dose of femininity on top. There is so much timeless advice in Wife Dressing that I recommend it to women, married or single, who wish to update their style.

I purchased a copy of Wife Dressing for my collection.. This post contains affiliate links to If you decide to make a purchase through my link, Amazon will pay me a tiny commission for it. This helps to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!