Sunday, January 14, 2024

Weekend Review: Clothes Sense


Clothes Sense: Dressing Your Best for your Figure & your Lifestyle / Jane Procter
Doubleday, c1985.
160 p.

This week it's another fun 80s style book for review! I picked this up at the thrift store shortly before Christmas - it was so appealing, I couldn't leave it there. This is a wardrobe focused book, which includes style, buying, and wardrobe care tips. But it also works for sewists, as it looks a lot at silhouettes and colour, and has some helpful tips on accessorizing. It's illustrated with many black and white photos, and a number of large colour ones, featuring celebrities of the day. 

And this is where another odd coincidence comes in. I had just watched the Great British Sewing Bee holiday special, in which one of the contestants was Toyah Willcox, a British punk singer of some renown-- but who I had never heard of before the GBSB. And who do I see as a fashion exemplar at the very start of this book? I turned the page and there was young Toyah, all 80s edgy. So many funny bookish coincidences happening lately! 

I enjoyed this one a lot. I spent time actually reading it -- there is a lot of information in it, it's quite heavy on text even though there are also tons of images to help show what she's talking about. It contains dated content, of course, mostly about looking thin as the end goal for everything. But there is also good info on silhouettes and fabric and colour combos. There is a section on hair and makeup which I'm sure you can imagine if you went through the 80s ;) It was weirdly nostalgic and thoroughly entertaining to read something from the actual era, and not a retro revisiting. 

There was one section at the end that was uncomfortable, and is a reason to be glad we're past the era. It features 'ethnic' design, and Iman is the model for the example images. It's a bit cringey. But there are some parts that are still very relevant, like the recommendation for quality over quantity, buying less, caring for your wardrobe items, and making sure it all speaks to who you are. There is good advice on defining what you need in your wardrobe based on your lifestyle and how you wear clothes, and on creating a personal look. These parts can be useful when developing sewing plans, and allocating your sewing time and budget on specific projects. 

The book finishes out with instructions on how to care for your quality clothing. There's a guide to stain removal and laundry care, and ways to store your clothing to maintain its shape and usability. 

I was glad to have found this unexpected title, and spent some relaxing hours poring over it and remembering my own fashion faux pas of the 80s (although I was only a teenager in a small town for most of the 80s so didn't have too much ability to be fashionable!) Great fun to look this over now. And some inspirational outfits to get me thinking, too!


  1. Oh, I wish I had a copy of this book in the 80's! It may have just given me the knowledge to thoughtfully plan my sewing and wardrobe in the coming decades. I don't think I even thought about it then. I think about it now, but still get easily side tracked and don't really follow through with a plan.
    .... Sara

    1. I wish I'd seen it then too! I might have really benefitted :) But of course when I was university I thought that one couldn't be both smart and stylish, so I might not have paid attention. I know better now!


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!