Jan 29, 2011

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean

Dora has always taken the path of least resistance. She went to the college that offered her a scholarship, is majoring in "vagueness studies," and wears whatever shows the least dirt. She falls into a job at the college coffee shop, and a crush on her flirty boss, Gary.

Just when she's about to test Gary's feelings, Mimi, the grandmother who raised her, suffers a stroke. Dora rushes back home to Forsyth, NC, and finds herself running her grandmother's vintage clothing store. The store has always been a fixture in Dora's life; though she grew up more of a jeans-and-sweatshirt kind of girl, before she even knew how to write, Mimi taught her that a vintage 1920s dress could lift a woman's spirit.

While working there, Dora befriends Mimi's adorable contractor, Conrad. Is he after Dora, or is working from a different blueprint? And why did Mimi start writing down -- and giving away -- stories of the dresses in her shop?

When Mimi dies, Dora can't get out of town fast enough and cedes control of the store to her money-hungry aunt who wants to turn it into a t-shirt shop for tourists. But ultimately, she returns to Forsyth, willing to battle whatever may stand in the way of her staying there. Dora can trade her boring clothes for vintage glamour, but can she trade her boring life for one she actually wants?


Erin McKean is the blogger behind A Dress A Day, the inspiration for this novel. Her writing has been featured in many media outlets from The NY Times Magazine to Foreign Affairs. She currently works as the editor of VERBATIM, and was previously at OUP.

Category: FICTION
Publish Date: 2/10/2011
Price: $13.99/$15.50
ISBN: 9780446555722
Pages: 304
Size: 5-1/4" x 8"


Another big dump of snow arrived overnight and I was craving something fun to read on a very dreary day. Scanning through my TBR pile this morning, the yellow dress on the cover of The Secret Lives of Dresses stood out like a ray of sunshine ... I love the cover!!

It didn't take long to get into the story of Dora and her grandmother Mimi, and their amazing little shop of vintage clothes. My favourite part was the stories that Mimi had written over many long years, documenting what the dresses might say if they could talk about their experiences and their past owners. As a dress was sold, the customer would then find out if a "secret life" was available for their special purchase.

If you would like a great escape into a world of fascinating vintage clothes mixed with some very colorful and lovable (and some not so lovable) characters, pick up a copy of The Secret Lives of Dresses. You won't be disappointed.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Secret Lives of Dresses through Hachette Books, in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I enjoyed hearing about this book and now am intrigued to read it. Dresses with stories is original.

  2. This sounds lovely. I want this and the dress on the cover.