Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “My Mother's Wedding Dress: The Life and Afterlife of Clothes” as Want to Read:
My Mother's Wedding Dress: The Life and Afterlife of Clothes
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

My Mother's Wedding Dress: The Life and Afterlife of Clothes

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  127 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
A glorious meditation on why clothes matter.

Beginning with the story of her mother's wedding dress, a perfect black French cocktail dress bought in 1960, writer and former Vogue editor Justine Picardie affirms what all of us may have suspected: that the real value of our wardrobes lies in the history and associations woven into our clothes. Combining tales of her own famil
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Bloomsbury USA
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about My Mother's Wedding Dress, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about My Mother's Wedding Dress

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 26, 2015 Zanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some very moving reflections in this book, which I read most of somewhere (quite possibly a bookshop) and then lost, but longed for long afterwards because it was so compelling. Giving it 4 stars on trust until I find it and skim it again
Mar 19, 2009 Louise rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A disappointing and uninteresting read. Although Picardie attempts to embellish us with recollections of clothing and the meaning of that clothing in her life, it stops short of the mark.

I found the whole novel rather boring and mundane. However, given the inside look at the fashion industry and Picardie's somewhat funny and quirky lists such as: "Cocking a Snook" and "How To Wear Red Lipstick"; I would recommend this novel for person's of the higher fashion industry who can appreciate the histo
WORN Fashion Journal
My mother’s wedding dress, the one she wore when she married my father, hangs in my closet, It is a creamy yellow-white, off the shoulders with a friendly young lace around the arms. It’s almost as though it was made for a sweet sixteen or southern cotillion, some tradition naïve and long since frown out of. I’m not sure what to do with my mother’s wedding dress, or with Justine Picardie’s book of the same name. Both share a dilemma that makes it difficult to determine whether they’re treasures ...more
Christy S
Apr 17, 2011 Christy S rated it really liked it
The subtitle of this book drew me to it immediately: The Life and Afterlife of Clothes. Luckily I was looking through book titles in a list, not covers in a book store, because its pastel pink and blue looks like boring Chick Lit, and the fashion illustration is not one I find alluring–something is off in the pose of the woman, and you can’t see any detail on the dress. I learned my lesson not to read a book by its cover with Linda Grant’s
The Thoughtful Dresser (a simple mannequin in a paper dre
Felicity Ford
Aug 28, 2008 Felicity Ford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book to read. It is a very accessible account of the myths surrounding - and the potency of - what we wear. Personal narrative blends into something more journalistic, and the sense of the author's own passion for the subject keeps the book captivating throughout.

Justine Picardie draws from her experience working at Vogue, her knowledge of Victorian literature and her personal memories of clothes, to weave together an engaging and thought-provoking read. Covering everything from
Aug 30, 2012 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting and unique memoir on clothes, their history and value (non-monetary) to the person who currently owns/wears it, presented with personal stories and family history. I didn't like how some chapters had extensive summaries on other books & movies in which the plots were recapped in order for the author to make a point about the clothes/fabric/shoes (this bored me). Other chapters went in depth on her family history, insomuch that I would forget the point or the connectio ...more
Aug 27, 2012 Catherine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
An oddly bitty book. I enjoyed some individual sections and end-of-chapter lists, but found paragraph-long parentheses rather wearing. I know I speak like that - and would write like it given the chance - so that is probably just a case of hating my own fault when I see it in another. The part that will stick in my mind is Erin O'Connor's story of catwalk torture rather than any of the never quite resolved explorations of family history inspired by an item of clothing or jewellery, or the descri ...more
May 29, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful book written by a fashion editor from British Vogue. I picked it up while I was in London last year, thinking that it was going to be a light read about the fabulous clothes she wore, but boy was i wrong. It turned out to be about a woman's journey through life and relationships with the clothes in her closet triggering the memories and the adventures. This is a collection of essays, and each one ranges from sentimental to a ghost story. Don't get me wrong, The clothes she de ...more
Nov 06, 2008 Stephanie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Project Runway watchers, memoir readers, busy people
I have read another short story book by Justine Picardie, a compilation called Truth or Dare; this book caught my eye due to her name and captured my interest. Definitely worth reading if you're interested in fashion or memoirs, as this is also a story of family history. If you pay attention to clothes, they can meaningfully affect you; Picardie captures her emotions and ties them to a lost-and-found list of clothes, with almost jealousy-enducing success.

Not my FAVORITE book, but well worth the
May 31, 2011 Melee rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-bio
3.5 stars.
Though the cover and title makes this look like chick-lit, it's actually a memoir of sorts; poignant, beautiful musings on how objects (clothes, mainly) anchor us to our pasts and the pasts of our ancestors, and also an exploration of the significance of certain clothing and accessories of literature and of their authors too.
As in most nonfiction books where each chapter is essentially an essay, there were some parts I loved and others that didn't excite me as much. Overall a most wort
Nov 12, 2010 Valerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was reading this book for research, and really enjoyed it. I didn't like the author's personal life story as much as I loved her talking about clothing in literature, but it was a very interesting read, and exactly the kind of book I was looking for.

Picardie worked as a journalist for Vogue, so she was a fashion insider, but she also had an interesting family history that often related to clothing. Although to someone who cares about clothes, anyone's family history relates to clothes.
Sep 16, 2009 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's more than just a memior of the fashion that shapes Picardie's memories, it's about fashion in literature and its place in identity. The rich detail of the people and clothing allows characters to leap off the pages, where you can smell the Chanel and hear the rustling of silk.

Bella's Sweater is probably one of my favorite chapters in the book. Kudos to the rules listed therein.

It loses a star for some of the lengthier, more boring passages.
Linda Chrisman
Jan 21, 2016 Linda Chrisman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
As someone who can remember clothing from when I was 4 till now at 68 - i can relate to this book so much. At 4 it was a white pique with red organdie. At 19 it was a navy suit with a cream vining flower pattern. I remember my hippie clothes, the tailored navy dress, my lace wedding dress, black business suits, a glorious tartan tiered skirted dress....
The memories just thinking about these clothes are so precious.
May 23, 2014 Jenni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: frivolous-fun
An intriguing concept with an uneven execution. Of course, many women feel that certain items of clothing have more importance than others, and Picardie's investigation into the meanings wrapped up within these items is certainly worthy. However, it's difficult to feel that she didn't have quite enough stories to really flesh this volume out, and as a result some sections are much stronger than others. Nevertheless an enjoyable look through the portable psychology of one woman's life.
Sep 03, 2012 Ashley rated it did not like it
Part ruminations on clothes she/her mother/her sister used to own, part random stories, and part literary critiques, this was a random mishmash to me. It spoiled a lot of books I haven't read and flowed really awkwardly. Not a fan.
Feb 08, 2012 Jodie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this one up because it sounded interesting. I have always had a fascination with the fashion industry and I thought that the idea of why clothes are so important to us and memory. I really enjoyed this one.
Jul 04, 2010 Jodie rated it liked it
Growing up I wanted to be a fashion designer, I spent hours designing dresses and outfits. My favorite thing to design idea wise was a wedding dress.
This was a cool journey through clothes. I could have enjoyed it more, it dragged in spots, but I liked it.
Bethany McKay
It wasn't what I expected. If you like fashion, this might be the book for you. This woman leads her life relating to clothes and fashion, so the title is a bit misleading, though her dress plays a part. The book got better by the second half.
Jun 17, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely read- if you like family, clothes, literature, memoir...all tied together and beautifully written. She really knows both her fashion and her literature - and how memories can be hinged to clothes-object , much like food or sense of place, maybe more so.
Jan 06, 2008 Maariyah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's just generally very enticing. It's feminine without being profusely girly or whatever, and it has strong family roots as well as amazing dresses =)
Sep 15, 2008 Megan rated it really liked it
It was a really interesting book about clothing... I think you'll enjoy it if you enjoy clothes. Only one part is about a wedding dress... it's more comments in general on the meaning of clothing.
Jul 16, 2010 Anouska rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 'Ghost Dresses' chapter actually made me cry!
Mar 20, 2008 JayeL marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
July 2015: not available on audio at Mechanics' Institute
May 13, 2010 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
You don't need to be clothes or Vogue obsessed to enjoy this book. As a self confessed non shopper I took great pleasure from reading the memories and histories various items of clothing evoked.
Joy rated it liked it
Nov 09, 2009
Patrick T.
Patrick T. rated it really liked it
Jul 23, 2011
Stella rated it really liked it
Feb 15, 2009
Lana rated it liked it
Feb 14, 2017
Jane rated it really liked it
Nov 12, 2009
Emma rated it it was amazing
Jan 07, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Thoughtful Dresser
  • One Hundred Open Houses
  • The Glimmering Room
  • My Love Is A Dead Arctic Explorer
  • Colosseum: Poems
  • Oracle: Poems
  • Child of War, Woman of Peace
  • The Fundamentals of Fashion Design
  • Dreaming of Dior: Every Dress Tells a Story
  • Zirconia
  • Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd
  • Monologue of a Dog
  • Money, A Memoir: Women, Emotions, and Cash
  • Domestic Work: Poems
  • 100 Dresses: The Costume Institute / The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Trances of the Blast
  • Sleeping Arrangements
  • A Twisted Ladder (Devils of the Briar Series)

Share This Book

“Smiling is not a duty, but a freedom. It's up to you now; you are liberated from the expectations and conformities of youth.” 4 likes
More quotes…