The Bookworm Sez: “You Are What You Wear” by Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner

You Are What You Wear author pic CREDIT Rebecca
Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner; photo credit by Rebecca Bixler

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

c.2012, DaCapo Lifelong $16.00 / $18.50 Canada 250 pages

It’s an old joke, but so true: you haven’t got a thing to wear.

Yes, your closet’s crammed. You could wear a different outfit for six months with no repeats. You could skip doing laundry for weeks and you’d be okay, but when you got dressed this morning, everything was all wrong.

Why can’t you get rid of that ripped sweatshirt from college?  Are you wearing things that show too much skin?  Why aren’t you taken seriously at work?

Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner says that what’s in your closet can answer all those questions and more. In her new book You Are What You Wearir?t=smorga 20&l=as2&o=1&a=0738215201,” she explains.

When Jennifer Baumgartner was a small child, she loved to explore her grandmother’s closet. Even at that early age, she realized that she could understand a lot from the things her grandma wore and loved.

“Much like a turtle with its shell,” she says, “we tell the world the who, the what, the where, and the when of our lives by what we wear on our backs.”

Every item in your closet is there because of an unconscious feeling. You may have hangers filled with baggy clothes because you’re ashamed of your body. Perhaps you have drawers full of neon because you’re afraid of getting older. You might still have racks of ‘80s fashions because they hold memories. Maybe you’ve got things that are inappropriate, too big, too small, too scruffy, or duplicates. Those clothes are affecting the way you live, and they may be holding you back.

You need, says Baumgartner,  to make sure the outer you matches the inner you.

Start by examining what you have. Empty your closet and dressers and “begin by blowing the top off your wardrobe…” Figure out what bugs you about your clothing, then ask yourself why you filled a closet with things that aren’t right for you.

Next, think about what you want your clothes to say about you, then purge or add accordingly. What do you keep? What do you need? What feels good (or uncomfortable) about these choices?  And how will you stay the course in the future?

So your Dress for Success plan is coming unbuttoned?  The look you thought was cool makes you look a fool? Then this book can help.

First, though, I do have to admit that I was surprised with what I read.  I expected “You Are What You Wear” to be more psychology-based and more revealing, personality-wise  – but while there’s psychology in this book, it’s more of a how-to.

That’s okay, though. Author and psychologist Jennifer Baumgartner does a thorough job in helping women (and men!) to understand what they need to do to find the look they need with maximum style and minimal cash outlay. I liked the step-by-step approach, and I appreciated that Baumgartner includes threads of all kinds.

If you’ve ever been told to tone your wardrobe down, spice it up, or update it, buckle down with this book. For you, “You Are What You Wear” will help you wear a smile.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books. For more information, visit

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