Customer Reviews for

The Secret Lives of Dresses

Average Rating 4
( 71 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(26)

4 Star

(29)

3 Star

(15)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

This classic story is as comforting to read as your favorite sweatshirt!

Mimi was an lady who believed that everything had a purpose and that few things should be thrown away. She manages a vintage clothing store selling old clothes from the 20's and up. Nothing is ever considered out of date or out of style. Each piece of clothing is unique...
Mimi was an lady who believed that everything had a purpose and that few things should be thrown away. She manages a vintage clothing store selling old clothes from the 20's and up. Nothing is ever considered out of date or out of style. Each piece of clothing is uniquely designed to fit the wearer and transform them like nothing else could.

Mimi met each customer's needs unlike your typical sales person. She believed that her store was not a thrift store. She believed that customers should not feel that they are being sold something less expensive, but selling them something more special. "We have to tell them the story of what we're showing them. And then we have to show them how they can be the new heroine in the story" she would explain to her granddaughter Dora, who spent hours working in the store while doing her homework.

As Dora grew and made plans for college, Mimi made sure she had plans for the future. Dora never felt compelled to wear any of the pieces Mimi felt would compliment her. However, when Dora is called home from college to hear that Mimi has suffered a stroke, she believes she has missed out on something special.

All these years Mimi has a collection of pieces of clothing she felt were meant to be Dora's and since arriving with no bags packed, she begins to explore every piece that Mimi has so meticulously selected with her in mind. She wishes that Mimi could see her just this once in something more than sweatshirts and jeans.

When Dora decides to take over the store til Mimi recovers and in that time discovers a secret that Mimi has created in each dress that she sells. Each one comes with a timeless story that upon reading will transform the lady wearing it and show her that she truly is something special.

I received the beautiful classic novel, The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean, for my honest review from Hachette Book Groups, and fell in love in a completely different way. This novel is a must read and will change the way you see ordinary things in your daily life. This one is a 5 out of 5 stars hands down! No longer when I dress will I be wearing clothes but each piece tells the story of the life they have witnessed being worn by someone special. Each has a story to tell. What does yours say?

posted by Heart2Heart on February 6, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

A sweet read- but that's pretty much it.

I had fairly high expectations for this book that weren't really met. The first 50 pgs were very hard to get through because there were lots of unnecessary details everywhere. After that, it was an ok story,but moved slowly. Many flashbacks rather than present day scene...
I had fairly high expectations for this book that weren't really met. The first 50 pgs were very hard to get through because there were lots of unnecessary details everywhere. After that, it was an ok story,but moved slowly. Many flashbacks rather than present day scenes caused confusion. Erin McKean had good intentions and the idea had great potential, but for me the quality didn't meet this potential. It didn't really stand out to me and I wouldn't recommend it.

posted by 7473008 on April 5, 2011

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  • Posted February 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This classic story is as comforting to read as your favorite sweatshirt!

    Mimi was an lady who believed that everything had a purpose and that few things should be thrown away. She manages a vintage clothing store selling old clothes from the 20's and up. Nothing is ever considered out of date or out of style. Each piece of clothing is uniquely designed to fit the wearer and transform them like nothing else could.

    Mimi met each customer's needs unlike your typical sales person. She believed that her store was not a thrift store. She believed that customers should not feel that they are being sold something less expensive, but selling them something more special. "We have to tell them the story of what we're showing them. And then we have to show them how they can be the new heroine in the story" she would explain to her granddaughter Dora, who spent hours working in the store while doing her homework.

    As Dora grew and made plans for college, Mimi made sure she had plans for the future. Dora never felt compelled to wear any of the pieces Mimi felt would compliment her. However, when Dora is called home from college to hear that Mimi has suffered a stroke, she believes she has missed out on something special.

    All these years Mimi has a collection of pieces of clothing she felt were meant to be Dora's and since arriving with no bags packed, she begins to explore every piece that Mimi has so meticulously selected with her in mind. She wishes that Mimi could see her just this once in something more than sweatshirts and jeans.

    When Dora decides to take over the store til Mimi recovers and in that time discovers a secret that Mimi has created in each dress that she sells. Each one comes with a timeless story that upon reading will transform the lady wearing it and show her that she truly is something special.

    I received the beautiful classic novel, The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean, for my honest review from Hachette Book Groups, and fell in love in a completely different way. This novel is a must read and will change the way you see ordinary things in your daily life. This one is a 5 out of 5 stars hands down! No longer when I dress will I be wearing clothes but each piece tells the story of the life they have witnessed being worn by someone special. Each has a story to tell. What does yours say?

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2012

    Wonderful story!!

    I love this book. The characters are well-developed and interesting. The story is enjoyable and I love the idea of the "secret lives" of the dresses. Love it! Reading the secret lives is the best part!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2012

    Wonderful

    This is a gem of a book. Good book for a rainy day, easy to get engrossed in. Such a creative idea. I look forward to more by this author.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2011

    A sweet read- but that's pretty much it.

    I had fairly high expectations for this book that weren't really met. The first 50 pgs were very hard to get through because there were lots of unnecessary details everywhere. After that, it was an ok story,but moved slowly. Many flashbacks rather than present day scenes caused confusion. Erin McKean had good intentions and the idea had great potential, but for me the quality didn't meet this potential. It didn't really stand out to me and I wouldn't recommend it.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 6, 2011

    pages flew!

    Interesting book and concept. I like the characters and was impressed with the different style of writing when the dresses "spoke". Will look for more from this author!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    LOVED IT!!!!!

    Dora was brought up by her grandmother, Mimi, after losing her parents when she was a child. After graduating high school she just seemed to be going through the motions, she attends the college that offered her a scholarship with a major of liberal studies, unsure of what she truly wanted to do in the future. Her planned summer job falls through, but then a job at a coffee shop with a hunky boss just falls into her lap. She is thinking of graduating early and attending grad school, but still is moving through life just day to day.

    Then she receives a call, she has to return back home, her grandmother has suffered a stroke. Dora drops everything and returns to Forsyth, North Carolina with just the clothes on her back. This is't a problem though because she has a full closet at her grandmother's house, but it not your typical closet full of clothes, the closet is full of vintage dresses. Mimi runs a vintage dress shop and she has always brought home dresses she thinks would look great on Dora. As a child Dora played "dress up" with these clothes, but now with Mimi in the hospital, Dora must take over things at the dress shop and Mimi requires employees of the shop wear vintage clothing so she gets to wear the dresses out in public. Dora had been brought up being taught that a vintage dress can life a woman's spirit no matter the problem.

    While working at the store she meets Mimi's friends and selfish relatives seem to appear out of the woodwork. But the best thing about working at the store was learning that some of the dresses came complete with their own story. Mimi had been writing the stories and giving them away to the customer who purchased the corresponding dress.


    This story had me running through the gambit of emotions, joy, sadness, hope, excitement, anger, amusement and even envy. This book is truly minor stories, those of the dresses, interspersed within the main story of Dora's life. She grows from an immature girl flying through life "by the seat of her pants", to a wonderful confident woman and we get the pleasure of tagging along through the pages of this brilliantly written book.

    It is hard to believe this is the author's first novel. I haven't ever heard of the idea set forth in this book of a garment's history whether fictional or true following simple dresses around. You only see a snippet of that in museums of dresses worn my famous people and those stories basically don't go beyond, who wore it, who designed it and where was it worn. I bet after reading this book vintage shop owners will try to copy the idea, but it will take some special creative writing skills to pull off the level set by this story and the unique way that it started will be impossible to duplicate.

    Have some tissues handy while ready both for tears of laughter and tears of melancholy. There is romance, friendship, greedy relatives and even a little suspense. Fans of small town or woman's fiction will love this book. I really did.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free Hachette Book Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonia

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2013

    A Lovely Diversion

    While this will undoubtedly be compared to 'A Vintage Affair'--and the novels certainly share similarities--this rather light, breeze of a read does stack up nicely with that other well-written title. McKean has fashioned appealing major characters and a rather convincing 'young college graduate unsure what to with her life' scenario. My only complaints are that the actual 'lives' of the dresses--interspersed throughout the story--are not always interesting or attention-grabbing. At times those stories are so tragic (or sordid) quite honestly, I don't know that I would want the accompanying dress! What would have been nice is more of the relationship with Mimi: we get some but really fleshing that out would have been better. Overall, an easy, afternoon read--good for a diversion--and dreams of couture clothing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2013

    You won't look at your wardrobe the same way again. While the pl

    You won't look at your wardrobe the same way again. While the plot and characters are as predictable as a Hallmark channel movie, the book does help change the reader's view of the world just a little. Vintage dresses in the book tell their own stories about the women who have worn them. It is a charming variation on the old saw "if the walls had ears".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2013

    I enjoyed the book and loved the concept. I was a little disapp

    I enjoyed the book and loved the concept. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more on Dora's family and grandmother - their pasts were limited and yet they all played a part in Dora's character. I will never look at dresses the same and really want to consider my own wardrobe.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Charming

    Truly charming story. Sweet and engaging.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2011

    Breezy Read!

    This book was surprisingly good. It was a quick read, however had some depth to it. My only complaint is that it could have been a little longer so the reader could see the main character attach herself more to the people she meets along the way. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Secret Lives Of Dresses

    Dora has lived with her grandmother Mimi, since the age of one when her parents were killed in a freak accident. Dora is in college, but really she has no idea what she wants to do with her life, she chose her college based on the fact that they offered her a scholarship. When a planned summer job falls thru, an on campus coffee shop job falls in her lap. She is kind of crushing on her boss Gary, a grad student, but since he flirts with everyone she isn't sure how he feels about her.

    When Dora gets a call from back home informing her that her grandmother Mimi has suffered a stroke, she drops everything and heads home, not even taking time to pack. Mimi runs a vintage clothing store and has always brought home dresses from her store for Dora, hoping that Dora would one day wear them. Due to the severity of Mimi's condition Dora needs to step in and take over the running of the clothing store.One of the neatest things Dora discovers is that her grandmother had been giving some of the dresses in her store personal histories and passing them on to the customer when they purchased the dress.

    When Conrad, a friend of her grandmothers who is also a contractor renovating the apartments above the shop starts popping in Dora finds a friend as well as a strong shoulder to lean on. Dora finally comes to the realization that she want to run Mimi's shop permanetly but dreaded relatives swoop in and want to change everything.

    I can't say enough good things about this story! I loved Dora, she starts out as a girl with no true direction in her life, but when her grandmother needs her she doesn't hesitate.While her backstory was sad, I didn't feel sorry for her because she had Mimi and Gabby. I liked how Gabby was described as some kind of relation by marriage, which sounds so southern to me. The histories of the dresses were amazing, I could actually visualize the people that were touched for a bit by the garments as the histories were revealed. I must say I was totally blown away with the ending of the story. When it is revealed who actually wrote the history of the dresses, Dora finally gets a few pieces of her history as well!

    If your looking for a good story set in a small town that has romance, along with a few quirky characters, that will tug at your heartstrings but also give you a couple of laughs and ultimatly give you a satisfying ending you definatly need to check out this book!


    I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A wonderful whimsical tale

    Dora Winston majors in "vagueness studies", which means in this case aimless time and space. She is attracted to her grad student boss at the coffee shop, but he ignores her outrageous flirting.

    However, when a hospital informs Dora that her beloved grandma Mimi, who raised her, suffered a stroke, Dora returns home to Forsyth, North Carolina to be with her. Dora also takes over running Mimi's vintage clothing boutique while her grandma heals. The two employees Gabby and Maux prove very helpful, but it is finding tidbits of Mimi's life that excites Dora especially the stories about the dresses in the store. When Dora and Conrad, the contractor renovating the apartments above the store, meet, they find they are attracted to one another.

    The three wise women are wonderful eccentric characters with much of what Dora and the readers learn of Mimi come from her dress tales. Conrad is fully developed too, but in some ways feels more like a genre requirement because the coming of age heroine needs a male lead. Like the rest of Dora's journey from vague nothingness to relational enlightenment, the trek lacks evil witches and flying monkeys, but is still fun to accompany the amusing threesome guide the heroine down her yellow brick road.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 19, 2014

    A well written tale about finding your identity - and the twists

    A well written tale about finding your identity - and the twists and turns that go along with growing as a person.

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  • Posted August 21, 2013

    Beautiful story and love how it all came together at the end. Hi

    Beautiful story and love how it all came together at the end. Highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    Loved it

    Enjoyed all of it, especially the dress stories. Easy and sweet read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    This was a snoozer. I finally flipped to the back to solve the

    This was a snoozer. I finally flipped to the back to solve the "mystery" of the letter writer. I truly do not get the good reviews. There just wasn't much plot nor character development.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    Ender

    He sighs, then finds the reasoning in her words. "You're right. I'm sorry l couldn't stay longer." He leaves the box with the carved wooden ring in it on the couch, along with a new carving. The new carving is a scene of intricately carved trees, with Ender and Alice sitting together on a log, holding hands. Inscribed in the base is a single word, 'Remember'. Looking back one last time, he whispers, "Goodbye, and best of luck." He turns away and vanishes, an iridescent dragonfly's wing fluttering to the ground the only indication that he had even been there.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    A

    This is truly a sweet read. I love vintage clothes and jewelry and primtive furniture so it's not an unusual concept to me that they all have secret lives. I enjoyed this book very much and will suggest it to most of my friends as a great beach read! I look forward to more Ms. McKean.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    Great Read

    Loved this book.

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