The last pair of shoes I bought cost £25.00 in a sale. I’d hurt one of my toes, all my summer shoes were suddenly agony to wear and I was reduced to these; neither fashionable nor stylish but I could walk in them. So you’d expect me to gulp a little when Linda Grant opens her book The Thoughtful Dresser with an account of her need to buy a Dolce & Gabbana pair for £300.00, especially as later in the book there's a disparaging remark about ‘enormous shoes which fasten with velcro’. Not at all; I understand, even though I could never do it myself.
I loved Grant’s novel The Clothes on their Backs. This newer book is non fiction and should perhaps be called ‘Linda Grant Talks about Clothes’. I romped through it just the same but with many misgivings.
I should say straight away that I’d already read this excellent (and negative) review in The Telegraph by Lynn Barber, whom I admire very much. I wasn’t at all put off by her criticisms but, reading the book, came to find them very apt. Linda Grant is so passionate about clothes that she has a blog about style. I enjoyed reading about her own clothes and even her mother’s but couldn’t really see the point of much of the chat. If 'feminism versus interest in clothes’ is no longer an issue, why discuss it so much? I found it all rather rambling. Why so much about the holocaust and Catherine Hill? I think the point there is supposed to be that caring about what you wear is life-affirming.
Grant complains that people take a moral stand against fashion but not against foodiness; one indulgence is to be condemned but not the other. Aha! This is crucial, because she herself condemns the style no-hopers. To read Grant’s strictures on clothes worn by visitors to London (poor provincial things who know no better), you’d think schlepping around in comfort clothes was a hanging offence. I prefer good food but see nothing wrong in people opting for sliced white if that’s what they like. And the same applies to clothes.
I just wish such an expert shopper could tell me where a petite femme d’un certain âge can buy a decent pair of trousers. Meanwhile, I look forward to her next novel.