The Lost Art of Dress: A Conversation with Historian Linda Przybyszewski

In The Lost Art of Dress, historian and dressmaker Linda Przybyszewski explores how American women's fashion went from floor-length dresses to bloomers to shirtwaist dresses to, yes, flour sack dresses. Before ready-to-wear and before fast fashion, American women created affordable clothing for themselves and their families with help from the Dress Doctors—the thrift experts, home economics professors, and fashion guide authors who advised women how to craft the most appropriate looks for less. Style changed with every step forward for women: gaining the vote, entering the world of work, heading academic departments. Recently, Przybyszewski and I talked about the evolution of American style, the fraught subject of home economics, the lack of fashion and beauty advice for black women, and how to dress like a streetwalker in the 19th century. READ MORE

How Your Sweet Valley High Gets Made

Now that Francine Pascal's young-adult series Sweet Valley High has spawned the recent Sweet Valley Confidential and the new e-book series The Sweet Life, perhaps it's time to explore how your Sweet Valley High gets made. I interviewed Ryan Nerz, 38, author of Eat This Book and the forthcoming MARIJUANAMERICA, and a former ghostwriter for the Sweet Valley High series (in 1998). He talks about how he — a straight man — got inside the heads of teen girls, how smoking pot helped the creative process, and how he wrote his bros into the lives of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. READ MORE

Margaret Sanger, Badass Mother Lover

Well, now that we're SlutWalking, creating alternatives to marriage, defending Planned Parenthood, and basically bringing feminism back (you're welcome!), it's about time we re-acknowledged one of the most important figures in women's lib, turn-of-the-century birth control activist Margaret Sanger. READ MORE

Merrill Markoe, Patron Saint of Women in TV Comedy Writing

The very funny Merrill Markoe has written for TV, movies, print, and talk radio. She wrote for Laugh-In, Newhart, Moonlighting, and Sex and the City, and she's probably best known for her Emmy award-winning work on Late Night With David Letterman, where she invented the segments Stupid Pet Tricks — and its Stupid Human Tricks spinoff — and Viewer Mail. In her new memoir Cool, Calm & Contentious, she dissects her life in show business and beyond, recalling that virginity was "something to be gotten rid of quickly, then never discussed again, like body odor." I spoke with Merrill about her career in comedy, and her Lynda Barry envy. READ MORE

Patricia Marx on Hazing, The New Yorker, and TV Eyebrows

Patricia Marx was the first woman elected to The Harvard Lampoon, her first paid job was writing for Saturday Night Live, and she currently writes “On and Off the Avenue” and occasional “Shouts & Murmurs” columns for The New Yorker. She also writes books: the satirical How to Regain Your Virginity, the children’s book Dot in Larryland (with illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast), and, as of today, the novel Starting From Happy. So we asked her some hard-hitting questions, like who she’s dating, why she doesn’t like shopping, and how to make friends. READ MORE