Fancy dress

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

Isabel Wolff’s written several books by now, but this one—because it has vintage clothes in it—grabbed me when I read a review.
(I have a weird weakness for vintage clothes books, even though I own not a single article of vintage clothing and generally have the style sense of a crow.)
I’m thinking it was probably a ravingly positive review, because that’s what this book deserves. It’s everything a chick lit/women’s fiction book ought to be.
Here’s what I mean–
This book is witty. The writing is lovely—nice and easy, but not simplistic. Just a pleasure to read.
It’s light enough to enjoy during the summertime, yet also deals with some substantial stuff (yes, peeps, there’s death in this book).
It’s got a great cast of characters, and it shows them as they experience some key changes in their lives. So yes, there’s a plot.
Speaking of which…
Here comes the plot summary:
Phoebe, a thirtysomething Londoner, has just opened a vintage clothing shop. She’s also mourning her best friend’s death and feeling enormous amounts of guilt about how she believes she could have prevented it. Add to the mix the breaking-off of her engagement, dealing with the aftermath of her parent’s divorce, some good-looking men vying for her attention, and her new friendship with an elderly lady who has kept a heartbreaking secret all her life—and you’ve got yourself a fine set-up for a novel.
Plus there are gowns!
…including “cupcake dresses”—ballerina-length prom dresses from the ’50s that hold seemingly magical powers to transform their new owners’ lives for the good.

(Photo credit:; original photo = an ad in an issue of Seventeen magazine from 1957)

It kind of makes me want to flounce around in taffeta and tulle.
If you’re in the mood for this sort of thing, here are some others to try:
– Cupid and Diana by Christina Bartolomeo (romantic comedy; vintage clothing shop)
– The early novels of Elinor Lipman (I’m thinking especially of The Way Men Act, which is a romantic comedy set in a flower shop)
– Shattered Silk by Barbara Michaels (romantic suspense; vintage clothing)
Warning: may be flounce-inducing