Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review: WHO WHAT WEAR

     After the previous blog about assembling your own inspiration board, I thought it was only natural to transition into reviewing the book WHO WHAT WEAR: Celebrity and Runway Style for Real Life by Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power. I'm an avid reader of their online magazine [it's my Safari home page] which covers the latest in celebrity fashion, runway trends, and beauty secrets. Their site was launched in 2006 but their book was published in 2009 and I just recently received the book as a christmas gift [via amazon wishlist!] and I loved every page of it. 

"...the plain fact of the matter is that you are judged, every single day, by the way you dress. Before you get to say a word or do a thing, your clothes are speaking for you, communicating strong messages to the outside world about your taste level, sense of self, and general acumen."

     The book is brilliant. It's very well organized and the images are correctly and appropriately placed in each page. But most importantly, the book speaks a lot of bittersweet truths about life and fashion. For instance, in the prologue the authors talked about how people are judged based on first impressions, which is absolutely correct. Based on an evolutionary perspective, [psychology degree talking here], we all operate based on stereotypes and visual cues because that is how our brain categorizes and organizes things on first glance. So whether you like it or no, as superficial as it sounds, we are judged by the way we dress [doesn't that make you think about what you put on when you make a quick run to the grocery store?!] 

"The way you present yourself to the world and your ability to assemble fashionable outfits is crucial to success."

    In addition, Kerr and Power approached this entire book with a business woman mindset [in six inch Christian Louboutin heels] when giving fashion advice. They believe that the way you dress in a work or even a casual setting is very important in being successful in life regardless if you are in the fashion business or not. Because ultimately in the end you want to be respected by your colleagues and friends and personally, I feel as if dressing well is a great way to be taken seriously, be given respect, boost self confidence, and most importantly it is courteous and communicates to other people that you care and respect them enough to show up looking so put together. Being stylish and fashionable is just an added bonus!

     Aside by the 'Style by Inspiration' chapter of the book which covers putting together an inspiration board, my other absolute favorite part is the "Runway to Real Way" chapter. When you go to a fashion show [John Galliano and Alexander McQueen shows pop up in my head] a great deal of it showcases the designer's visions and fantasies. What this chapter basically does is teach you how to decode or read the runway. What that basically entails is to interpreting the runway madness [and pure genius!] into the latest clothing trends and realistic outfits. This can be broken down into a Runway to Real Way 5-Point Check List
  1. Color
  2. Fabrics
  3. Prints and Patterns 
  4. Accessories 
  5. Themes 
     Even though a lot of the clothes on the runway are technically RTW (Read to Wear), the way that they are showcased on the models are not necessarily how you are supposed to style the garments in a real life setting [although this makes me think of a Diane Von Furstenberg show where the models were wearing whimsical floral and ribbons head pieces which I would gladly wear with her clothes!] So this chapter helps you interpret what was shown on the runway without getting lost in translation. 

     Every season, every major high fashion magazine such as Vogue and Elle [and even Paris Vogue!] makes what is called a Collections issue. This one in particular, like the Paris Vogue Spring/Summer 2011 shown above is organized based on the collection shown in cities like Milan, Paris, New York, and entire section dedicated to accessories like jewelry, shoes, and handbags. In addition, with each city, every designer gets their own spread. So pick up a copy [or just stop by a Barnes and Noble and flip through one because they are $39.95 + tax] and practice decoding a show using the 5-point check list. Before you know it, you will be saying things like "camel, minimalism, and over the knee boots are making a great comeback this season," and you will have that checklist permanently memorized in your head and make such observations without even consulting the list. It will becoming second nature to you. 

     Another chapter that I truly enjoyed and found really useful in this book is the "Not Every Trend is not for Every Body" chapter, with the emphasis of the words 'every' and 'body' being separate entities. This whole philosophy makes a lot of sense if you think about it because nothing is more unattractive than seeing someone in an ill-fitting outfit. Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power said that unless you have the resources to (1) hire a stylist and get some professional guidance or (2) experiment with lots of different outfits until you figure out what looks great on you [which can be very time consuming], they suggest that you try the two-step, fuss free Who What Wear plan, which is both easy and inexpensiveThe two steps of this plan are: 

Step 1: Make an honest assessment of your height, weight, bust size, hip size, and body shape. 
Step 2: Once you're clear on your basic body shape, pick a celebrity doppleganger and see what works on them! 

     Pretty simple, huh? This makes a lot of sense because I have a short stature and I always see myself gravitating towards the style of MK&A Olsen [who are roughly 5'0" like me], Lauren Conrad, Rachel Bilson, Kate Bosworth and Nicole Richie. So even without realizing it, it seemed as if I had a pretty good idea of my body type and shape which is very crucial when it comes to shopping and dressing yourself. For example, I lovelovelove maxi dresses, but since I'm such a short girl, I always have to find one that is just the right length or get it altered. There is nothing chic about a long dress mopping the floor as you walk. Be realistic with yourself and find outfits that flatter your shape and body type and make the proper adjustments if needed! Because in the end, a maxi dress [with wedges!] that's hemmed just right on someone who suffers from a height deficiency can actually create an illusion of a longer figure since the fabric continues and doesn't cut you in places that will reveal your short stature. 

     Overall the book is a good read and a great investment and it contains many other helpful points and guidances in looking polished and chic. Decoding runway shows and finding your celebrity doppleganger are just the points that really resonated with me and ones that I found the most useful! 

Love, KB

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