Author: Nina Garcia
Publisher: Harper Collins (September 4, 2007)
Having spent much of the summer in flip-flops and getting sick of “celebrities as news stories,” I was pretty sure when The Little Black Book of Style by Nina Garcia from Project Runway arrived in my mailbox I wasn’t going to like it. I mean, I had just read Cecile Andrew’s The Circle of Simplicity on the art of living simply and now I was going to read a book on fashion telling me to buy all these things I don’t need. Great, I thought, I hate writing negative reviews, what have I gotten myself into.
However, it turned out there was very little in this book I disliked. In fact, this book was not at all about following the trends or buying the it purse, but finding your own style in life and valuing that. Garcia said that many times women buying on a budget or women who shop in vintage stores are actually much more stylish than women with money who just run out to buy the latest trends. It seems the budget shopper may actually be a little more in touch with herself and her taste. She has to be creative and this creativity leads to a more stylish, individual look.
What I appreciated about this book is that Garcia doesn’t have a one-style fits all. She says directly that if the latest trend doesn’t look good on you, don’t buy it. There’s the simple advice that has been ignored by many, “Buy your correct size” and “Don’t be sucked in by the sale tag.” But I think one of my favorite sections was “How To Be Imperfect,” which is about taking your flaws and making them your assets. It’s not about fixing what’s not right, but appreciating the uniqueness of each of us. Throughout the book, it’s easy to see that Garcia is a believer in the individual style of a woman and not trying to create a cookie cutter look for everyone.
One of my favorite stories in the book what about how her parents would take her out of school in Barranquilla to travel to different places such as New York, Paris, Japan, India, and Italy. She would complain to her father that she was a month behind in math, but her father would say, “But you saw the world! There’s always time to catch up on long division!” This “you-only-live-once-so-have-some-fun attitude comes through in Garcia’s style and writing.
My only complaint about this book is while Garcia says that fashion can be intelligent, the author still embraces real fur (I think her exact words were “PETA be damned”) and not mentioning the faux-fur alternatives made me question the "intelligent" statement. Overall though, this was really the only area in the book I took issue with and if you can overlook the fur matter (which in all honestly was only a small part of the entire book) it’s a fantastic resource for the fashionista in your life with lots of fun drawings, lists, and good quotes throughout. The last section even included short interviews with other fashion favorites such as Ralph Lauren, Iman, Vera Wang to name a few.
Final thoughts: You can still live simply and be stylish –or— the little black dress lives on…
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