Worn Stories review – wearing it all on your sleeve fashion statement

April 2, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, TV Reviews
3.5

Summary

Worn Stories spins several moving and diverse yarns of human experience, all stitched together in a breezy docuseries about the clothes we wear.

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3.5

Summary

Worn Stories spins several moving and diverse yarns of human experience, all stitched together in a breezy docuseries about the clothes we wear.

A slight mid-week docuseries like Worn Stories is the kind of thing that drops all the time on Netflix, mostly to little fanfare or attention. You can spin a couple hours out of virtually any topic these days; sometimes they take off, sometimes they don’t. This is the kind of kitchen-sink approach that gives us series’ about tidying up, living with almost nothing, or even reality competitions about glassblowing. But Worn Stories is a bit different. Adapted by Jenji Kohan – who has previous on Netflix, most notable with Orange is the New Black – from the bestselling 2014 book of the same name by Emily Spivack, these aren’t stories about clothing, really, but about the life stories threaded through each item, the memories and experiences stitched into the fabric. It’s a simple but sneakily genius idea. Everyone, after all, has to cover themselves up with something.

But what are they covering up? Why? These are a couple of the essential questions, but there are many more besides. Across several half-hour episodes, each with a general theme, the stories woven through these garments are unpicked and explored. Some relate to their acquisition, some to their function, and others to what they represent to a diverse range of personalities. Talking-head interludes combine with animated sequences and other visual flourishes. It should feel a bit scattershot, but it virtually never does, just another outgrowth of a determined effort for diversity in all facets.

It’d be so easy for this kind of thing to fall into maudlin, preachy territory that it’s a near-miracle it doesn’t. From South Korean restauranteurs to former prisoners and nudists, these aren’t necessarily tales of individuals but of life itself, told in varied snapshots of different cultures and contexts, not all of which are positive. Financial crises, returning to civilian life after a stint in prison, and making up t-shirts to wear after the death of a loved one, our clothes aren’t just utilitarian or a means of aesthetic expression, but the stitching of our very lives.

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