From sneakers to leather jackets, a bold, witty, and deeply personal dive into Black America's closet In this highly engaging book, fashionista and pop culture expert Tanisha C. Ford investigates Afros and dashikis, go-go boots and hotpants of the sixties, hip hop's baggy jeans and bamboo earrings, and the #BlackLivesMatter-inspired hoodies of today.
The history of these garments is deeply intertwined with Ford’s story as a black girl coming of age in a Midwestern rust belt city. She experimented with the Jheri curl; discovered how wearing the wrong color tennis shoes at the roller rink during the drug and gang wars of the 1980s could get you beaten; and rocked oversized, brightly colored jeans and Timberlands at an elite boarding school where the white upper crust wore conservative wool shift dresses.
Dressed in Dreams is a story of desire, access, conformity, and black innovation that explains things like the importance of knockoff culture; the role of “ghetto fabulous” full-length furs and colorful leather in the 1990s; how black girls make magic out of a dollar store t-shirt, rhinestones, and airbrushed paint; and black parents' emphasis on dressing nice. Ford talks about the pain of seeing black style appropriated by the mainstream fashion industry and fashion’s power, especially in middle America. In this richly evocative narrative, she shares her lifelong fashion revolution—from figuring out her own personal style to discovering what makes Midwestern fashion a real thing too.
"There is no one more deft at weaving the fabric of our collective story together with our fashion choices and the politics that shape them than Tanisha Ford. This book will make you reminisce, reconnect and reflect anew on the fashion of the nineties, but with a Midwestern girls twist. Like your favorite album, you will want to take this journey from beginning to end." —Brittney Cooper, author of Eloquent Rage
"I love this book. It's a very funny and rare take on Black American style, and it's a Black girl's coming of age story that isn't tragic." —Akiba Solomon, co-author of How We Fight White Supremacy
Tanisha C. Ford is a pop culture expert and star academic. An associate professor of Africana Studies and History, she has written for the New York Times, ELLE.com, the Atlantic, the Root, and featured on NPR, among other places. Ford is the author of Dressed in Dreams, Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful, and Liberated Threads, which won the 2016 Organization of American Historians’ Liberty Legacy Foundation Award for best book on civil rights history. She lives in Harlem.