(Art)Books we love | Dress for Success

Today’s #artbookfriday is for fashion lovers. I got a nice little surprise by the kind people of Eden Books the other day and I’d like to tell you about it. They send me the pretty littly book ‘Dress for Success’ by Edith Head. I really like the book itself. It has a beautiful linen binding and the title is imprinted. It also has a bookmark ribbon. The color choices of white and pink are very fancy but it totally fits as it’s originally from the 1960ies.

About the author

Edith Head at opening night of a retrospective of her work from 1923 to present (1976) at Museum of Science and Industry. Photo: Los Angeles Times, February 24, 1976
Edith Head at opening night of a retrospective of her work from 1923 to present (1976) at Museum of Science and Industry.
Photo: Los Angeles Times, February 24, 1976

Edith Head (1897 – 1981) is a true Hollywood icon. She was the most famous American costume designer of the 20th century who won a record eight Academy Awards for Best Costume Design and was nominated for one 38 times during her career. She also wrote the book ‘The Dress Doctor’ (1959) but I haven’t read that yet.

In 1924, despite lacking art, design, and costume design experience, the 26-year-old Head was hired as a costume sketch artist at Paramount Picture. Later she admitted to “borrowing” other student’s sketches for her job interview. She began designing costumes for silent films and, by the 1930s, had established herself as one of Hollywood’s leading costume designers. She worked at Paramount for 43 years until she went to Universal Pictures in 1967, possibly prompted by her extensive work for Alfred Hitchcock, who had moved to Universal in 1960. She became famous for her low-key working style and, unlike many of her male contemporaries, usually consulted extensively with the female stars with whom she worked. She herself always dressed very plainly, preferring thick-framed glasses and conservative two-piece suits. As a result, she was a favorite among many of the leading female stars of the 1940ies and 1950ies, such as Bette Davis, Shirley MacLaine, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor. In fact, Head was frequently “loaned out” by Paramount to other studios at the request of their female stars. In 1967, at the age of 70, she left Paramount Pictures and joined Universal Pictures, where she remained until her death in 1981.

She was honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in 1974, which is located at 6504 Hollywood Boulevard.

Eternal style?

The book is really old fashioned. It’s like a time travel and some things in there reminded me of my grandma which is one of my personal fashion icons. It starts with a big chapter about how to dress for the job you want. It’s not bad but it’s not totally up-to-date anymore. Of course it’s from the 1960ies but as it’s called a timeless adviser for style I expected something different. Edith Head seems to be very conservative what fits her personal look which was very classy. There are none the less some really good hints in there. I liked the last couple of chapters a lot which tell you how to figure out your type and style. That’s something you should know about yourself.

I definitely don’t agree on the list of pieces you need in your wardrobe. Times have changed too much for that. Or do you always wear a hat with the right gloves when you leave the house 😉 And thank God jeans and denim can be worn everywhere today!

The chapters how to dress your children and your husband made me laugh a lot. Her true believe is that your personal success as a woman depends on how you dress your husband and your children. Well, those were the times I guess. Her advice is to always decide for your partner what to wear. I can’t imagine that at all and I am really happy those times are gone. And of course you decide what your children wear when they’re young and that it’s important to learn what’s appropriate in different situations but I would also say children are children and not little models.

All in all this book is not bad and can be a true help if you start to find your style or if you like to learn a lot about the 1960ies and the role women had back then. It also entertained me a lot but it’s not THE eternal style guide. I am still curious though about her other book. The biggest plus for me is that I learned something about a fascinating woman who made a big career in Hollywood before that was as normal as today. We need to remember women like her!

The Book

Dress for Sucess

Dress for Sucess

Dress for Sucess

Dress for Sucess

Dress for Sucess

#book | Dress for Success

#author |  Edith Head, Joe Hyams

#language | German (Original: Englisch)

#publishing house | Eden Books (Original: V&A Publishing)

#ISBN | 978-395910-019-9

#pages | 192

#published | 2015

you can get your copy here.

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