Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review: Women from the Ankle Down by Rachelle Bergstein

Title: Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us
Author: Rachelle Bergstein
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publish Date: May 29, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a non-fiction fan.
  • You like your history off the beaten path.
  • You're a fashionista.
What's the Story?:

From "What is it about a pair of shoes that so enchants women of all ages, demographics, political affiliations, and style tribes? Part social history, part fashion record, part pop-culture celebration, Women from the Ankle Down seeks to answer that question as it unfolds the story of shoes in the twentieth century.

The tale begins in the rural village of Bonito, Italy, with a visionary young shoemaker named Salvatore Ferragamo, and ends in New York City with a fictional socialite and trendsetter named Carrie Bradshaw. Along the way it stops in Hollywood, where Judy Garland first slipped on her ruby slippers; New Jersey, where Nancy Sinatra heard something special in a song about boots; and the streets of Manhattan, where a transit strike propelled women to step into new cutting-edge athletic shoes. Featuring interviews with designers, historians, and cultural experts, and a cast of real-life characters, from Marilyn Monroe to Jane Fonda, from Gwen Stefani to Manolo Blahnik, Women from the Ankle Down is an entertaining, compelling look at the evolution of modern women and the fashion that reflects—and has shaped—their changing lives."

My Two Cents:

"Women from the Ankle Down" is a history of shoes with a focus on the 20th century. While it's mostly about women's shoes, there's some about men's footwear as well. I'm not a shoe person by any means (jewelry and purses are my personal poison) but I think the off-the-beaten-path history is always really fun to read about.

This book isn't purely just a history of shoes. It's an engaging book full of anecdotes and pop culture. I thought it was really cool how Bergstein was able to show how shoes changed with the culture and times in the United States. Admittedly, I think of fashion and current events often being completely separate entities whose only ties are that they happened to be around at the same time. Bergstein shows how fashion and current events really are much more aligned than they seem at first glance.

This book is grouped by chapters, which each focus on a different era of the 20th century. I sometimes felt like the author was trying to squeeze in too many things at once. I really wish that the book would have been a little bit longer so that there could have been some more detail around the things that Bergstein discusses in the book.

Overall, if you have an interest in shoes (or fashion for that matter) and pop-culture, this book is for you.


1 comment:

  1. Interesting! I love me some shoes. I don't buy them because I buy books instead, but I've always been intrigued as to why shoes are such a fetish.


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