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Anatomy of Fashion

Today, two book recommendations, just right for my vintage-loving buddies.

The Anatomy of Fashion: Why We Dress Like We Do, won’t be released until September 30. If this sounds to you like a book that has the potential to have the lens—and the entertainment factor—of a textbook, think twice. This one promises to be a lively read because it’s written by Colin McDowell.

McDowell is the author of 20 other books and also an opinion columnist for the Business of Fashion blog. His editorials range from tirades against elitism in fashion (stemming from the Oprah/Hermes bag incident in Switzerland) to rich, rambling book reviews, almost as good as reading the books themselves.

Vintage Anatomy

In The Anatomy of Fashion, McDowell gives us a tour of fashion history—by body part. Think about it: even the shape of the bosom has changed through the ages, pointy and high in the 50s, flat as a pancake in the 20s. Since there is no way to talk about fashion as it relates to the body without mentioning sex, it’s safe to say McDowell’s book will emphasize the role of fashion in sex appeal.

One of my barometers of an important book: when I visit my library’s web site and they already have it on order. This was the case with The Anatomy of Fashion. At $65 on Amazon, I probably won’t buy it. If you’re in the same category, now would be a great time to request it from the library—whether they have a copy or not. (P.S. Did you know that public libraries LOVE IT when patrons request books they don’t already have? A direct request means they are definitely serving their public’s taste for reading. The last thing in the world they want to do is buy books that no one reads—or guess at what we want.)

Cooking with Grandma

At My Grandmother's TableThe world of cooking seems to be divided into two camps: those who share their recipes and those who don’t. I once had a friend who guarded her recipes as if they were the Queen’s jewels. As an otherwise generous person, her stinginess in this area shocked me.

The two most experienced cooks in my family are my mother and mother-in-law. Both are sharers. Next to losing them, there is nothing that would grieve me more than the death of their best recipes. That’s why I perpetually ask for and get their old standards when dining at their tables. Have you ever browsed antique shops and used bookstores for old cookbooks? Oh, the thrill of finding someone’s notes and substitutions in the margins: “I used white wine instead of broth.”

At My Grandmother’s Table: Heartwarming Stories & Cherished Recipes from the South is like getting your grandmother’s best recipes, only better—because it’s everybody’s grandmother’s best recipes. What makes this different from other cookbooks? Every recipe is accompanied by a brief memory of the grandmother who once served it, including lore on such things as how to catch a husband. The answer, according to one Grandma: learn how to make biscuits from scratch. Perhaps if I had known this, I might have married earlier in life!

This is a cookbook to buy and keep in your collection, especially if you like good, old-fashioned food that reminds you of your grandmother and never goes out of style. If you’re a frequent contributor of dishes for church pitch ins and family reunions, this is the cook book for you. (Lots of big batch recipes!) A bonus delight: names for the recipes that range from the charming to the hilarious e.g. MawMaw’s Divinity and Make Ya Wanna Slap Your Grandma’s Chocolate Cobbler.

What’s your favorite family recipe? I’m giving away a copy of At My Grandmother’s Table! To enter the random drawing, leave a comment with the recipe inside. All entries must be made by September 15!

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.