A New York Times Book Review "Notable Book"
"One of the Best Business Books of 2004," Strategy and Business
From airport terminals decorated like Starbucks to the popularity of hair dye among teenage boys, one thing is clear: we have entered the Age of Aesthetics. Sensory appeals are everywhere, and they are intensifying, radically changing how Americans live and work.
We expect every strip mall and city block to offer designer coffee, a copy shop with do-it-yourself graphics workstations, and a nail salon for manicures on demand. Every startup, product, or public space calls for an aesthetic touch, which gives us more choices, and more responsibility. By now, we all rely on style to express identity. And aesthetics has become too important to be left to the aesthetes.
In this penetrating, keenly observed book, Virginia Postrel shows that the “look and feel” of people, places, and things are more important than we think. Aesthetic pleasure taps deep human instincts and is essential for creativity and growth. Drawing from fields as diverse as fashion, real estate, politics, design, and economics, Postrel deftly chronicles our culture’s aesthetic imperative and argues persuasively that it is a vital component of a healthy, forward-looking society.
Intelligent, incisive, and thought-provoking, The Substance of Style is a groundbreaking portrait of the democratization of taste and a brilliant examination of the way we live now.
"Virginia Postrel [is] to the mind of the Manolo, the futurist and trend spotter of note, the foremost philosopher of style and fashion, who in her marvelous book The Substance of Style, says more in the first paragraph than most books say in 500 pages."
--Manolo the Shoeblogger
"Virginia Postrel is plenty smart, she understands how design works, and in The Substance of Style she connects a million seemingly disparate dots into a fresh, clear-eyed, persuasive picture of our culture circa 2003. But the most amazing and delightful thing about this book--this serious, footnoted work of social analysis--is that it's driven by a celebration of pleasure."
--Kurt Andersen, author of Turn of the Century and host, Studio 360
"Cheers to Ms. Postrel for explaining how separating style from substance is an unnatural cleavage."
--The Dallas Morning News, editorial, June 2, 2003
"Virginia Postrel...writes perceptively about everything on which her penetrating gaze alights."
--George Will, syndicated column, October 26, 2003
"Everyone should read The Substance of Style, by Virginia Postrel, the best design theory book by a non-designer in years."
--Mr. (Jeffrey) Keedy, Emigre 66