This book made me happy and angry at the same time.
On one hand, it’s delightful: smart, witty, and insightful. It’s refreshing to find someone who loves fashion, but can take the piss out of it at the same time – a rarity in a world that generally takes itself way too seriously. And it takes the skill of a Guardian columnist to write a funny little book about frocks and socks that also mentions Ukip and Derrida
Freeman is at her best when she decodes fashion speak, deconstructs women’s magazines, and describes what really happens at catwalk shows – from a front row, rather than YouTube perspective. Her style advice is much more problematic. When telling women what to wear, the liberal feminist she usually is becomes a conservative fundamentalist.
Apparently, leggings are almost criminal. Boots should only ever be allowed in black or brown. Polka dots are an example of what she calls pedophile chic – a rather distasteful term, if you ask me. And if you decide to wear more than 3 inches a cleavage, or anything with a (gasp!) colourful print, you should be prepared that no one will hear a single word of what you say. There will be too distracted by you sartorial abomination, suggests Freeman right before repeating for the third time that you should always dress for yourself.
If you ignore the annoying bits, The Meaning of Sunglasses is great as a light, but not mindless summer read, especially since it’s small enough to fit in your never-oversized-enough travel bag. But remember to pack your leggings, too, in case it gets cold. And also because the go really well that lovely polka dot dress of yours.