Sunday, July 12, 2009

Seeking Style By The Book

Christina Binkley in this week's Wall Street Journal
explores the latest books on style
Style books can be more than “how to wear this, how not to embarrass yourself in that.” If you define style broadly, there is nary a corner of our lives unaffected by style, from the cars we drive to how we text.
One book on Ms. Binkley's list is this book due to be released in August
Here's her take on it
Until I read this book, which is due out in August, I hadn’t actually realized that texting with one’s index finger is a sign of age. It also hadn’t dawned on me that it was possible to “Facebook old” (or even to use Facebook as a verb). Ms. Satran’s take on the latest generation gap is as insightful as it is entertaining—a comic blend of advice and anthropology that skewers both young and old.

The book is arranged as a series of rules, such as “#54 Don’t Fear Rap,” in which Ms. Satran offers nine “easy listenin’” songs, including Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat Dance” and Ludacris’s “Midnight Train.” In a section called “15 Cool Dead Famous People,” Ms. Satran suggests it is OK to name-drop Abraham Lincoln, Coco Chanel and Kurt Cobain in the same sentence.

By the way, your Birkenstocks are OK again: Rule #183 lists eight items of hipster gear that even oldies can wear, including
Ray-Bans with prescription lenses and, yes, orthopedic sandals from Germany.
In our youth obsessed culture this looks sure to be a best seller.
But now that I know that it's OK for me to wear my Birkenstock sandals...I don't need to buy the book!
Another book on Ms. Binkley's list
Author and stylist Ms. Farr picks up where “How Not to Act Old” leaves off—without the humor. “What does it mean to have reached middle age in a time of celebrity adulation, youth obsession, stripper culture and the Real Housewives franchise?” she asks.

This is a dual pep talk and primer for those of us whose style hasn’t evolved since our first full-time job. As with any fashion book—and fashion itself—the trend-conscious elements of this one will have a shelf life of only a few years. But the classic parts will remain. For instance, when buying a scarf, be sure the exposed ends are nicely finished.
I've been wondering about the personal style, fashion sense and taste. Can you learn any of this from a book?
If you've reached middle age and your personal style is say, matronly or frumpy, can you become even become more stylish?
Doesn't the fact that you are already dressing this way mean that your personal taste in terms of fashion is actually matronly or frumpy?
And I ask these questions fully admitting that I have some seriously frumpy taste myself when it comes to comfortable footwear.
Personally, if I wanted to sharpen up my look I'd probably work with an image consultant such as Karen Karlsen or Imogen Lamport (with a trip to Australia attached....).
If you wanted to sharpen your look would you buy these books, hire an image consultant or both?

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Jill said...

I've always been a little afraid of these books. It feels to me that they promote certain "types" and you only fit into one. A stylist would be nice. As long as she really understood me and didn't doll me up as a version of herself.

Ps...step away from the birkenstocks!

StyleSpy said...

I rec'd a review copy of the Farr book, too, and found it so dull, repetitive, and unimaginative that I didn't even bother to finish it, let alone review it. The woman has nothing new to say and apparently to her "stylish" = safe & inoffensive, which we all know isn't so. I think the single most important ingredient to peronal style is the confidence to wear what makes you happy, whether or not some talking/typing head (and I include myself here!) approves.

Belle de Ville said...

I think that these books can be helpful for someone who really has no sense of how to dress to flatter your figure. Obviously, they can't teach you how to have that je ne sais quoi that adds the special flourish.

Karen said...

I'd buy the books, read them, clip images from magazines, and then hire Karen Karlsen to do an exclusive Style Check assessment.

If you're really having trouble, the only way out is to have help. Otherwise, we just keep making the same mistakes.

Ray Ban Sunglasses said...

I love Ray Ban Sunglasses they are by far my favorite sunglass frame. How can anyone else choose a different name brand?

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