What’s On Your Nightstand?: Dressed for Success

I apologize immediately for giving you a Roxette ear worm with this post’s title. While Roxette may be culturally cobweb riddled, the real Miss Havisham of this piece is the man who coined the term “Fashion Victim” and wrote a book called Dress for Success years before the New Wave Scandihoovian duo recorded even one round of “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Based on this Vanity Fair profile I just finished, we can garb John Fairchild in sackcloth, ashes, and spider’s silk–as long as it’s all impeccably tailored. First he says ““I think when you’re out of something, you should stay out. Don’t you?”,” but we quickly learn that this grand homme of NYC fashion doesn’t practice what he preaches: “Even now, at 85 years old, the eternally boyish, white-haired Fairchild, with his much-imitated high-pitched cackle, is on the phone three to four days a week with James Fallon, the current editor of Women’s Wear Daily, suggesting stories and gleefully passing along gossip.” Oh, OK–good times, good times…

At this point regular readers may be horrified–a has-been ’80s band and an octagenarian former rag-trade editor? WHERE ARE THE BOOKS? Patience, my pretties, patience. It’s the phrase “dressed for success” with which I am obsessed.  Once upon a time it meant making sure everything was sharp, clean, and tailored, a la Fairchild: Many lifestyle books showed nightstands carefully piled with pristine, pertinent volumes. Pretty notebooks for listing books read proliferated, and some readers “curated” their own bedside TBR piles like shrines, keeping books about living beautiful, successful lives in the stack even when those readers weren’t managing much more than ordering in and watching a movie.

But a funny thing happened along the way to the new millennium–people started caring more about living life instead of living beautifully, and carefully aligned stacks of books became less important than whether or not the owner had absorbed any of the contents (more on this in a future post about e-books; I won’t digress. I won’t digress! Am I digressing?). Pristine gave way to wabi-sabi, pertinent to practical…of course, it’s all a continuum, and trends cycle through. If The Who can play at the Olympics, perhaps needlepointed ottomans piled with coffee-table books can, too. (If you argue that The Who has never gone out of style, then come sit by me on my needlepointed ottoman. We’re going to be BFF!)

So, which approach to you take to your TBR pile: Perfection? Or catch-can? Tell me…and tell me too what books are in that pile this week. After all, I’m more about substance than style…


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