Big Hair and Popped Collars

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Anyone coming of age in the 80s probably has fond memories of big hair, parachute pants, and popped collars.  In Jen Lancaster's last book, Pretty in Plaid, she recounts her metamorphosis from small-town Midwestern girl to fashion-forward, Prada-loving businesswoman.

The book begins when Jen is still Jenni, and she is living with her family in New Jersey.  It is the late 70s, and she is rockin' a retro-60's vibe in her hand-me-down fringe vests.  Before long, her father moves the family to a small town in Indiana because of his job, and her high-style Eastern-seaboard existence comes to a screeching halt.  Throughout the rest of the book she shares tales of her trials and triumphs through the clothes that signify each period of her life-jeans and t-shirts in elementary school, preppy khakis and polos in high school, sorority sweatshirts in college, and frumpy business suits at the beginning of her career in business.

I should start the review portion of this post by saying that I love Jen Lancaster.  I firmly believe that we are meant to be best friends and go out of fancy martinis while we snark about all of the ridiculous things in the world.  I have read two of her other books, Bitter is the New Black and Such a Pretty Fat, and other than the fact that she is a Republican I felt like I was reading something my businesswoman alter-ego (if I had such a thing) might have written.  That said, I did not enjoy this book as well as her others.  Not because of the focus on fashion, which is why one friend of mine did not like it, but because I think that I prefer the fully-formed Jen to the still-developing Jenni.  I still laughed out loud more than once during my read.  Her footnotes add to the hilarity rather than distract from it.  As someone who was a teenager in the 80s myself, I was transported back to my own big-hair days.  I too was one of those obnoxious know-it all honors students who wanted to run the world.  I too got to college and lost my mind for a while (though I took way less than the 11 years to finish that it took Jen).  I too waited tables for many years trying to keep my head above water.  I too had big curly hair that frizzed when it was humid.  Overall, while I wasn't quite as over the moon about this book as the others, I still loved it, and can't wait for her to write many more!

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