"Personal style is accepting who you are."
- Diane Von Furstenberg
I'm building my fashion library as we speak. I love to read. I've always loved reading, but it wasn't until I purchased my first so-called 'style' book did I even consider purchasing and collecting them. The very first style book that I ever owned was this hard cover book printed by InStyle Magazine. It was a good start considering that after having read such reference book [it was more a reference book than an actual book] that I started to think that there had to be better 'style' books out there. And there are! [alleluia!] This book, I Love Your Style by Amanda Brooks is an excellent start.
I came across this book while I was rummaging around Anthropologie [they have a great selection of coffee table books there.] Looking through books in small clothing boutiques and stores like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters and bookstores is a great idea, because it will let you preview the book before you commit into buying it [Amazon.com doesn't have book previews for every book or even for every page for that matter!]
You know how people believe in love in first sight? Well, I believe in love in the first few pages. This book immediately caught my attention because of it's table of contents page and the foreword by Diane Von Furstenberg [I love her.] We don't have all day to stand around and flip through a book all day [unless it's the weekend, of course] so a good strategy in previewing a book quickly is by reading it's table of contents page, finding a section that immediately strikes your interest, and going directly to that section of the book to see if it's as good as it sounds. After all, a trailer for a movie isn't always as good as the actual feature film.
The one thing that I absolutely loved about this book are the photographs! Amanda Brooks, a fashion consultant who has written for publications like Vogue and the New York Magazine and who has appeared as a fashion expert on shows like the Today and Early Show, filled this entire book with photographs of her growing up, her family, and favorite photographs of movie stars, super models [lots of Kate Moss], and performers -- aka fashion icons. In the beginning of the book she even said that it's okay if you just want to flip through the book and look at the pictures. In fact, she encouraged it! She said that they are there for a reason. Don't mind if I do!
Another thing that I loved about this book is the section titled "My Style History." It included photographs of her early fashion influences like her parents, especially her mother, and grandparents. It was very evident from the early stages of her life that fashion was in her blood. When her mother got married, Lily Pulitzer, the designer known for her bright colors and patterns, designed a special pattern just for her bridesmaids to wear. That photograph included her mom and her five bridesmaids wearing dresses in the new green and white floral pattern. There was even a picture of her father climbing Machu Picchu in his Gucci loafers! This is a good fashion project that you can do -- trace your style history in your family. I've always wanted to do this and I've been meaning to add this to my fashion journal [stay tuned on that progress.]
"People ask me how I can be stylish, how can I be elegant and what can I wear? My only answer is study! You have to learn."
- Muccia Prada
To get you started to the main attraction of the book, Amanda Brooks suggested two introductory steps in path of the finding your own style. These two components are the "6 Ways to Find Your Style" and her five-point series of "A Few Things to Consider." The lists are as follows:
"Six Ways to Find Your Style"
- Make tear sheets -- anything that resonates with you: outfits, color combinations, textiles, scenery.
- Write down your style history.
- Try a lot of looks.
- Constantly ask yourself questions -- what proportions flatter you? what fabrics and colors do you love? what pieces in your closet do you come back to again and again?
- Find your style icons and inspiration -- identifying with someone whose style you admire is a great way to figure out whether something is 'you.'
- Make an effort -- try to always look and feel your best, in short, get dressed up!
- Your budget
- Your body
- Your age
- Your rules -- like "I don't wear a brown belt with black shoes."
- Your signature
"Finding your personal style is really about discovering yourself."
- Amanda Brooks
"It is a way of putting yourself together that allows your combination of tastes, desires, interests, aspirations, lifestyle, and history to shine through."
But the creme de la creme lies in the chapters of the six distinct ways of dressing -- classic, bohemian, minimal, high fashion, street, and eclectic. Amanda noted that since it's somewhat easier to pin down the consistent elements of classic, bohemian, and minimal styles, she appropriately called that cluster of styles definable. So in contrast, high fashion, street and eclectic, given that their elements are always changing, she called those styles indefinable. As if that's not great enough already, after each style chapter she also included an entire section of what she calls "homework." It's not the usual grunt work that we associate with the word. Her definition of homework actually consists of recommendations of books to read and films to see in association with each style. For instance, after the classic chapter, she recommends seeing movies like La Dolce Vita and Bonnie and Clyde. These recommendations serve as an extra step toward exploring that particular style.
The rest of the book is dedicated to 4 types of shopping -- basics, cheap chic, designer, and vintage. Naturally these chapters include shopping tips like what to look for and where to find it and other tips like vintage thrifting tips! The designer shopping section even includes an entire page of difficult-to-pronounce designer names like Herve' Leger (Air-VAY Le-ZHAY) or Yves Saint Laurent (EEV Sahn Low-Rahn.) Work on those pronunciations and check out this book! I guarantee that you will love it as much as I do.