Friday, March 6, 2009

Book Reviews: Style Books

I recently have had the opportunity to review two style books, 'The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style' by Kim France & Andrea Linett, and 'Who Do You Want To Be Today?' by Trinny & Susannah. Both books have remarkably similar concepts but their execution couldn't be more different.

'The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style' is by the editors of Lucky magazine, who were also the authors of the best selling 'The Lucky Shopping Manual', a book I found very useful (much more so than the magazine, in fact), so I was really looking forward to reading through it. The subtitle on the cover is "how to wear iconic looks and make them your own" and that is exactly what they show the reader how to do. They cover the full spectrum of stereotypical "styles" outlining ten, from the more classic Eurochic, American Classic and Gamine, through to the gypsy stylings of Posh Eclectic, Arty Slick and Bohemian.

Each "style" chapter starts with a brief description and photos of famous examples that personify the style, such as Ines de la Fressange for Eurochic, Farrah Fawcett for Californian Casual, and Helena Christensen for Posh Eclectic. This is then followed by a typical Lucky pictorial layout of Essential Pieces and Essential Accessories, and then a number of pages on How to Get the Look. The best parts of the guide are the sections on Putting It Together, where various outfits are created for different occasions, and All Year Long, where one item is paired with different items for each of the four seasons. Scattered throughout the book are profiles on "Lucky Girls", real life women who epitomise the particular style describing their style and showing items from their wardrobes.

What I loved:

  • lots of great wardrobe ideas that are all suitable for real life, whether you are a SAHM, or a working girl, or both
  • inspired me to create new creations
  • The Mix and Match section showed that you don't have to only be pigeonholed into one particular style, but cad add in other elements while still looking true to yourself
  • made me look at other styles and see how I could incorporate some different elements such as Arty Slick or Bombshell into my Eurochic/American Classic style to punch it up another level
  • the Lucky Girl profiles were really interesting

What I didn't love:

  • the Lucky Girl profiles only showed women who have predominately designer wardrobes. It would have been nice to see some Lucky Girls who shopped at Gap or J Crew or Ann Taylor etc
  • it is predominately aimed at thin and tall women - the reader needs a bit of imagination to extend the styles and looks to their own lives if they don't fit this "ideal"
  • it is mostly pictures, so you really need to be a very visual person (which I am, luckily) to be able to take away the personality of the pictures and project it into the style featured. There is not much text describing what makes up each style for those not so visually orientated

Overall rating: 3.5 stars

"Who Do You Want To Be Today? Be inspired to dress differently" by Trinny & Susannah was on my list of must get books as I have found most of their books (except their previous two) to be very useful, so much so that they are full of sticky tags marking pages that I refer back to over and over again. So when I received this book in the mail, I couldn't wait to delve into it.

Unfortunately, I was to be very, very disappointed. Like the Lucky book, it focuses on various styles and like the Lucky book, it gives celebrity examples so that the reader can identify the feel for the style straight away. However, this is where the similarities end. Where the Lucky Guide encourages you to extend your style based on your personality, Trinny and Susannah encourages you to mix up your outfits based on your mood. So while in the Lucky Guide, the outfits look like they would fit into a real life, the outfits selected for the real life models in T & S's book look like costumes for a dress up party. Further, the look they have created look totally costumy, including wigs and bizarre makeup; if I decided that today I felt like a rock chick and dressed in the items that they showed, my family would most likely have me committed!

The only positive of the book was the celebrity collages they had for each style - these were more illustrative of the individual styles, and included some more modern examples than the Lucky Guide.

What I loved:

  • the celebrity collages
  • the idea of stepping out of your comfort zone and mixing up my style a bit more
  • Trinny and Susannah's original What Not To Wear books, and What You Wear Can Change Your Life - get these books instead!

What I didn't love:

  • the rest of the book - just too way out for a real-life style guide

Overall rating: 1 star

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Gina said...

Thank you for the reviews. I was thinking about returning my Lucky Guide for the T&S book, but I'll not do that now. Granted, I don't mind a bit of a costume look now and again, but wigs and garish makeup? That is too over-the-top.

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