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From sneakers to leather jackets a bold witty and deeply personal dive into Black America's closet In this highly engaging book fashionista and pop culture expert Tanisha C Ford investigates Afros and dashikis go go boots and hotpants of the sixties hip hop's baggy jeans and bamboo earrings and the #BlackLivesMatter inspired hoodies of todayThe history of these garments is deeply intertwined with Ford’s story as a black girl coming of age in a Midwestern rust belt city She experimented with the Jheri curl; discovered how wearing the wrong color tennis shoes at the roller rink during the drug and gang wars of the 1980s could get you beaten; and rocked oversized brightly colored jeans and Timberlands at an elite boarding school where the white upper crust wore conservative wool shift dresses Dressed in Dreams is a story of desire access conformity and black innovation that explains things like the importance of knockoff culture; the role of “ghetto fabulous” full length furs and colorful leather in the 1990s; how black girls make magic out of a dollar store t shirt rhinestones and airbrushed paint; and black parents' emphasis on dressing nice Ford talks about the pain of seeing black style appropriated by the mainstream fashion industry and fashion’s power especially in middle America In this richly evocative narrative she shares her lifelong fashion revolution—from figuring out her own personal style to discovering what makes Midwestern fashion a real thing too


10 thoughts on “Dressed in Dreams

  1. says:

    I think it's easy for some people to dismiss fashion as an exaltation of excess capitalism a waste of money a glaring lack of modesty and humility I beg to differ fashion is an outward expression of personal style a way to set self apart from the crowd or show unity as a group even as an act of protest in a society that doesn't view you as capable human beautiful as you are Tanisha Ford traces her style development from the very beginning as a dashiki family in a Dickies town to an evolution that crossed paths with baggy jeans Timberland boots Wave Nouveau hair leather jackets and knee high boots Tennis shoes afro puffs bamboo earrings short shorts hoodies and designer handbags are woven into this thing called life not only as status symbols or acuisitions but a representation of personal growth Ford's writing is accessible to any reader it lacks the pretentiousness that is often found in academic writing I like that she was upfront with admitting that she was privileged to be on trend not an easy task in town that was plagued by job loss and drug addiction I especially admire that she recognized that she needed to find her voice not be a carbon copy of someone else which reflects the journey of a countless number of people me included Favorite passages comes from Knee High Boots chapter being fast had as much to do with the fact some adults feared that your curiosity about grown folks dealings was too dangerous for your own good a curiosity that would render the adults powerless to protect you from the world Some also feared you would outpace them in life learn experience And if you did that how could they communicate with you relate to you manage you control you? So they hurled out words like fast which stung when they hit so out of their own fear and insecurities than as a way to name our badbehavior Some folks would rather throw us girls away than grapple with their own brokenness 139 Afro Puff chapter my hair my dress was a narrative It told a story of my journey 204 Designer Handbag epilogue it wasn't about the material items themselves it was about the hard fought journey to financial stability the feeling of being starved of your desires for most of your life and then finally having the access finally being able to indulge 240


  2. says:

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review From the publisher as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews I let them do itFrom sneakers to leather jackets a bold witty and deeply personal dive into Black America's closetIn this highly engaging book fashionista and pop culture expert Tanisha C Ford investigates Afros and dashikis go go boots and hotpants of the sixties hip hop's baggy jeans and bamboo earrings and the #BlackLivesMatter inspired hoodies of todayThe history of these garments is deeply intertwined with Ford’s story as a black girl coming of age in a Midwestern rust belt city She experimented with the Jheri curl; discovered how wearing the wrong colour tennis shoes at the roller rink during the drug and gang wars of the 1980s could get you beaten; and rocked oversized brightly coloured jeans and Timberlands at an elite boarding school where the white upper crust wore conservative wool shift dressesDressed in Dreams is a story of desire access conformity and black innovation that explains things like the importance of knockoff culture; the role of “ghetto fabulous” full length furs and colorful leather in the 1990s; how black girls make magic out of a dollar store t shirt rhinestones and airbrushed paint; and black parents' emphasis on dressing nice Ford talks about the pain of seeing black style appropriated by the mainstream fashion industry and fashion’s power especially in middle America In this richly evocative narrative she shares her lifelong fashion revolution—from figuring out her own personal style to discovering what makes Midwestern fashion a real thing tooThis was a fascinating book I had zero ideas that black fashion was such a thing being white and Canadian and happy to just find size fashions that fit and don't make me look like a 70 year old snowbird wearing sweats and a patterned shirt side note ELOUII delivers to Canada I adored this book it was so well written and researched that I am going to make it a book club pick I can see and hear the fashion discussions already as we are a very diverse group of women financially and fashion wise It is fun to google and see examples of fashion in the presented examples this was just a hypnotizing read As always I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis outside of their incessant use by Millenials on Instagram and Twitter so let's give it 👚 👗 👜👠💃


  3. says:

    What a bright read Tanisha Ford’s Dressed in Dreams is enough parts memoir and black pop cultural commentary for either audience to be satisfied and surprised in every chapter Speaking of chapters each is organized around a fashion staple of a certain time period and geographic place In terms of geography Ford is definitely righting my sort of book—she’s a descendant of the Great Migration raised in Fort Wayne Indiana one of those Midwestern cities Detroit Chicago Milwaukee otherwise known as “Up South” Just as Ford knows her fashion she knows her roots and is in touch with how certain cultural trends that define black Midwestern style are paralleled in other regions across the US something we share given our particular diasporic historyThis goal of connecting various trends is an enjoyable constant throughout Dressed in Dreams I loved the Jheri curl chapter she unites Generation Z black girls who came of age in the late relaxerkeratin treatment and early natural hair care era with early Millennial women who came of age during the Jheri curl phenomenon She makes you truly uestion the trends many find nostalgia for—how was the Jheri curl trend similar to the keratin treatment fad and how was it different? Did these styles and treatments differ regionally? Were they driven by underpinning class aspirations? The uestions are endless It’s a joy to see Ford return to and interrogate the trends of her youth partially because she is the sort of relaxed academic who will take you along for her intellectual ride Despite this conversational tone she still weaves in some informative bits of design history so that we are learning something new about the styles we love I can’t lie—given my own fashion apathy a good high school friend once described me as a “chapstick lesbian” I often found myself asking if I had ever paid as much attention to someone’s clothing as Ford has throughout her life However it’s a testament to the author’s skill that despite not knowing many brand names I would still highly recommend this book Ford’s distinct blend of universality and specificity makes this a good time for any black girl born in the 1970s onward regardless of the size of their closet


  4. says:

    Thank you St Martin's Press for the free book to reviewOur garments are archives of memories individual and collective material and emotional that tell these rich textured stories of our lives  To make it plain our clothes make us feel things  All the things Tanisha C Ford Dressed in DreamsFord titles each chapter in this book with a piece of fashion or trends from the eighties and nineties chronicles in her journey to personal style and discoveryDressed in Dreams was a walk down memory lane in some ways pausing to give thought to aspects of black fashion and culture  When I consider my own school days with my proud tom boy persona my oversized T shirts and jeans too big for my small frame Begging my single mom for some Nike or Fila tennis shoes wanting the brands of my peers things in my uest to be stylish or as we once said FLY Thinking about LL Cool J and those bamboo earringsThe colorful Crayola crayon box colors I remember in middle school are the billboard of my youth  But the chapter on the AFRO PUFF had me in my feelings I laughed at the JHERI CURL chapter because I didn't have one but one of my aunt's did for WAY TOO LONG  I can recall with candid discomfort and a hot hair and hair grease smell in my youth the pressed or straightened hair sessions  The chastiment to BE STILL or GET BURNED moments  Agreeing to get the CREAMY CRACK so I could have GOOD HAIR  And when all that changed as an adult in my mid 30s when I had so many hair styles my friends couldn't keep up  The fun I had with being able to practically do anything with my hair if I wanted hair extensions  The reality of my relaxed hair gone and dealing with the hair strands growing out of my head Being terrified but slowly coming into my own  In a small way learning to love myself and the reflection in the mirror 


  5. says:

    I thoroughly enjoy a nonfiction topic that balances the memoirbiographical context with the point of the story For example Lab Girl told us the story of a nerdy woman who loved science and spent all her time working with her partner in the lab but also told us her personal story too Ford's is the same exact way she's telling us about how fashion influnces and affects us all using the context of her own family and her personal story And the recently read Notes from a Young Black Chef Loved it Ford lays the groundwork about fashion specifically in black culture which includes outfits patterns hairstyles and footwear Each chapter is a specific fashion element she wants to talk about providing history on then rolls it into the context of her own family story She brings in her mother uite freuently but also her grandparents some friends and classmates along the way but there was definitely strategy and choice in what she shared and seemingly didn'tLikewise I can get behind this book wrapped in love anyway because of the concept too As I'm hitting my stride in my thirties I'm loving fashion and the choices I make so it's an easy sell anyway She put so many things into perspective and for non black readers teaches a thing or two along the way Definitely ordering a few copies for our HS library especially with our vocational school offerings in barbering and cosmetology but also textiles and fashion illustrationThe Fort Wayne library was oddly hip and they had all of NWA's music on cassette I would use my library card to check out the tapes and then dub them using my dual cassette stereoEach time we stand before our closet to pick out our clothes we make a series of choices about how we want to appear before the world This is just as true for people who claim not to care about clothes as it is for self proclaimed fashionistas It's because we recognize that the way we adorn ourselves communicates something about who we are and where we come from We can think of our clothes then as a powerful social skin we're aware of the social politics of dress and are finding ways to survive and thrive within social norms or perhaps even transgress themI realized there's power in getting dressed that goes beyond big P politics There's little p politics the everyday pleasures and delights of styling out the strategies we use to navigate microaggressions how we create communities around hair and dress the ways we call out appropriation Our garments are archives of memories individual and collective material and emotional that tell these rich textured stories of our lives To make it plain our clothes makes us feel things All the things


  6. says:

    Very well written and provides a stroll down memory lane while also connecting how fashion played a part knowingly or not in our lives as black women


  7. says:

    Black fashion has made its place in fashion history from Afros and dashikis to baggie jeans and hooped earrings Dressed in Dreams by Tanisha C Ford is a book that all black girls should read In this memoir Ford tells her coming of age story through fashion and pop culture This book brought back so many memories for me especially the early 90’s The music fashion trends and the history behind it all I couldn't put this book down Well written and researched it’s a must read Thank you St Martin’s Press for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review 5 out of 5


  8. says:

    Loved this mix of memoir and history of fashion and culture Dr Ford does an excellent job of weaving both into a fascinating narrative Highly recommend for fans of fashion and what it means to express yourself and identity


  9. says:

    45 Review to come


  10. says:

    I get it I understand it While the author and I didn't uite have the same timeframe and culturalfashion cache this book and the tales of fashions within were uite familiar I was reminded of growing up and not being able to wear Nike of any sort because my mom recalled sensational news stories of people being robbed jumped and even killed for their Jordans I was reminded of that feeling of being grown up when I went to Value City and bought a pair of Nike gym shoes with my own money but also that feeling of being afraid that my mom would chastise me and my dad for allowing it for buying the forbidden brand I was taken back to being in New York for the first time in 2006 and going to the Carol's Daughter store in Brooklyn and feeling hip and in the know about natural hair care when I saw it on the shelves of Sephora when I came back home to Chicago I also remember feeling a little perplexed by what to do with my natural hair while also feeling like a pioneer on my HBCU campus because I was one of only a handful of girls with a TWA when I started my freshman year but then a wizened elder by the time I graduated four years later and saw so many of peers rocking their natural texture and asking me what I did or sharing their feelings of inspiration in my choice I'm still only rocking the same 3 styles with my natural hair but that has to do with my general disdain of hair than anything else ha When Tanisha talks about being in her mother's closet and what a clotheshorse her mom is I'm reminded of my own mother with multiple closets full of clothes and the things I saw and coveted as a young child Some of those things have come to me now that I'm old enough things like her gold jewelry because she's moved onto silver and others I will never see again because my mother didn't hold onto her fabulous pieces even though she knew she had a little diva of a daughter coming behind her Towards the end Tanisha talks about being in a Louis Vuitton store and how the impostor syndrome takes root and can make you feel unworthy of being in the place even though your money is just as green or how you feel like you must be the perfect cautious overly everything shopper in order to overcome racist and classicist stereotypes that have affected Black people and POC from Oprah to young workers with their tax refund I thought of all the times I've donned that mask or played the role in order to get through an encounter and feel worthy of also being able to belong in the capitalist system and spend my money just as frivolously as the white girl next to me I was transported back to Costa Rica and crying on a bus while headed into the mountains and jungle after hearing that George Zimmerman would face no jail time for the senseless killing of Trayvon Martin and the way that the hoodie began to symbolize something for me What a thoughtful exploration of Black fashion and culture The only thing I will say is that I felt like some of the descriptions of people were a little unnecessarily mean girl in a way that I can't uite put my finger on but rubbed me the wrong way a little Thankfully these moments were few and far between and I'm thankful for the opportunity to reflect on fashion and style in this way