A New Yorker Magazine Best Book of 2022 * An Esquire Best Nonfiction Book of 2022 * A Town & Country Must-Read Book of 2022 * A Fashionista Summer Read

“Smart, funny, and impressively thorough.”—The Cut

In the spirit of works by Jia Tolentino and Anne Helen Peterson, a smart and incisive essay collection centered on the fashion industry—its history, its importance, why we wear what we wear, and why it matters—from Elle Magazine’s fashion features director.

Why does fashion hold so much power over us? Most of us care about how we dress and how we present ourselves. Style offers clues about everything from class to which in-group we belong to. Bad Feminist for fashion, Dress Code takes aim at the institutions within the fashion industry while reminding us of the importance of dress and what it means for self-presentation. Everything—from societal changes to the progress (or lack thereof) of women’s rights to the hidden motivations behind what we choose to wear to align ourselves with a particular social group—can be tracked through clothing. 

Veronique Hyland examines thought-provoking questions such as: Why has the “French girl” persisted as our most undying archetype? What does “dressing for yourself” really mean for a woman? How should a female politician dress? Will gender-differentiated fashion go forever out of style? How has social media affected and warped our sense of self-presentation, and how are we styling ourselves expressly for it?

Not everyone participates in painting, literature, or film. But there is no “opting out” of fashion. And yet, fashion is still seen as superficial and trivial, and only the finest of couture is considered as art. Hyland argues that fashion is a key that unlocks questions of power, sexuality, and class, taps into history, and sends signals to the world around us. Clothes means something—even if you’re “just” wearing jeans and a T-shirt.  

About the author(s)

Véronique Hyland is ELLE’s fashion features director. Her work has previously appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, W, New York magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Condé Nast Traveler.


“Controlling what you wear is a proxy for controlling what you do,” Hyland writes in this examination not only of fashion but also of sartorial life more generally. Hyland finds meaning in what we wear, whether in the nineteenth-century vogue for bloomers or in courtroom attire, which is chosen to convey its wearer’s respectability.” — New Yorker

“Smart, funny, and impressively thorough.” — The Cut

Whether you realize it or not, every outfit you choose makes a statement, telling the world who you are and who you want to be. With a rich sense of history and firm grasp on the current culture, Véronique Hyland is your fashion trend translator. Her debut essay collection—wry, thoughtful, and always provocative—is a must read for anyone who cares about clothes…which is to say, everyone.” — Nina Garcia, ELLE Editor-in-Chief and Project Runway judge

“This riveting, mind-expanding book made me see the world differently. I'll be thinking about Hyland's funny, incisive observations for years to come -- she has a way of putting things that makes the world snap into focus with its colors slightly sharper and brighter. You will not be able to stop talking about the things you learn from this book!” — Emily Gould, author of Friendship and Perfect Tunes

"Anyone who opts in to wearing clothes (and even those who opt out) should pay attention to this book." — Library Journal (starred review)

"Véronique Hyland's tremendous essay collection is for fashionistas who like their frock talk served with politics." — Shelf Awareness, starred review

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