I realize this might not sound like a compliment, but Andrea Linett’s book, I Want To Be Her, is like a very chic, charming, introspective issue of the J. Peterman catalogue. Linett, like Kim France of Girls of a Certain Age, started her career in the fashion department atSassy before joining the world of grown-up fashion mags (Harper’s Bazaar, Lucky) and ending up doing a website of her own, I Want To Be Her, on which the book is based.
While the site features photos (taken by her husband, fashion photographer Michael Waring) of stylish women that Linett either knows or just spots and then breaks down their look, the book is drawings and descriptions of women that have influenced Linett’s style over the years, from her mother, depicted in her best ‘70s pants-suit, to Brooke Shields in her Calvins, to a girl referred to as “Dead-Head Classmate” whose jewelry Linett admired from afar. It’s the illustrations with clothing-related copy that make the book seem Peterman-like, but instead of having the clothes tied to absurd stories of intrigue and adventure, they instead describe how the looks influenced both Linett’s style and her life, starting from childhood on to the present.
It’s not the first time an autobiography has told a life’s story through clothes, but usually it’s through what the author wore, not through what inspired her along the way. It’s that enthusiasm, earnestness and positivity about fashion that make the book so appealing, because you can’t be any of those things while being “cool,” and fashion for coolness’ sake is boring as hell. Linett doesn’t want to impress you with her style, but to get you to understand what excites her about style in general, and maybe get you to see how fun it is when you notice the style that’s all around you and always has been.