Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Killer Fashion: Poisonous Petticoats, Strangulating Scarves, and Other Deadly Garments Throughout History by Jennifer Wright

Your clothes... are trying to murder you.

Now that I've gotten your attention - no, seriously, your clothes really are trying to murder you, and they've got a rap-sheet about a mile long.

KILLER FASHION is about deadly garments - and also deadly cosmetics, deadly wigs, deadly hair dye... it takes the word "garments" and stretches it a little far. But anyway, KILLER FASHION is about things you can wear (but probably shouldn't) that are actually deadly, or...err, potentially deadly?

Some of these things are obviously bad, like the mercury that used to be in the felt of hats, which is why hatters were called "mad hatters." Or the lead that used to be in makeup. Or the ammonia and bleach(!) concoction that Jean Harlow allegedly used to get her signature platinum blonde look.

Others are... kind of lame. Like, bras - because the underwire can cause you to be shocked by lightning (seriously?). Or heels - because you might trip and fall. Or neck-ties... because some psychopath might grab you by your tie and strangle you with it. In those instances, I wouldn't say it's the clothing that's deadly - it's the weather, the carelessness, and the innate psychotic behavior in certain human beings that are contributing to one's demise.

Also, these "killer" fashion objects are arranged in alphabetical order, but certain letters are skipped. That felt lazy to me (almost as lazy as writing about deadly lightning conducting bras, hmm?). I noticed you skipped Q - you could have done qipao, which has a spot of dark history during the Qing dynasty. There was also no "P", I believe, and you could have totally done "piercings" for that, which can be incredibly dangerous if done poorly, especially if done near arteries as in the tongue. Likewise, skinny jeans (I can't remember if there was a "J") cause nerve damage if worn too tightly. This is just off the top of my head, people.

I wanted to like KILLER FASHION more than I did, but it felt like a forced and half-assed effort. The poetry in here made the book feel young (how old is the intended audience for this book?), and the collection of "deadly" clothing assembled could have been, well, deadlier. I learned some new facts, which I'm always grateful for, but this collection really fell short of my expectations.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

2.5 to 3 out of 5 stars

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