Pretty in Plaid: A Memoir
by Jen Lancaster

New American Library, 2009. ISBN 978-0-451-22853-6.
Reviewed by Susan M. Andrus
Posted on 11/11/2010

Nonfiction: Memoir

Jen Lancaster writes like my daughters talk—critical of my fashion sense and savvy in the lingo and fashions of the 80s and 90s. Here's an example—"Don't get me wrong, I love my mom, but her fashion tips come from Prevention magazine. And this is the woman who wore ponchos for years after they went out of style."

Lancaster's memoir about coming of age during these years is packed with humorous anecdotes as she started college, then worked for a year, then returned to college, seriously this time. She pledges a sorority, and then becomes the pledge captain the following year, and her memos to her sorority sisters demonstrate her sarcasm, wit, and compassion.

Lancaster is determined to remain fashionable in spite of her limited income. On using fashion tape to hide her cleavage, she says, "Then if I buy stronger tape, it will be too strong, and when I peel it off I'll take an entire layer of skin with it, leaving me with enormous tape hickeys." Her adventures make the reader turn pages to see what disaster or adventure will come next.

Authentic and funny, Lancaster gives us a glimpse into how girls emerge from childhood to womanhood with all the ups and downs along the way. She says, "I've always considered myself the sum of all my parts. I'm not just a manifestation of my mental and physical self. Personal style and proper wardrobe have been a part of making me who I am ever since I can remember." And Jen Lancaster's style makes her a memorable writer as well.

Jennifer ("Jen") Lancaster (born November, 1967) is an author of five published books: Bitter is the New Black; Bright Lights, Big Ass; Such A Pretty Fat; Pretty in Plaid; and My Fair Lazy. She was an associate vice president for a technology company prior to being laid off after 9/11. Being laid off, and her adaption thereto, became the subject matter for her blog, and later, her books. Lancaster was raised in Indiana and now resides in Chicago, Illinois with her husband, Fletch, and their many pets. Visit her blog.

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