Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Style Wednesday - Do Style and Beauty Books Help or Hinder?

Happy Wednesday All!

Today's topic has been precipitated by a wonderful new book by writer and blogger Tish Jett, Forever Chic.



I have been a happy follower of Tish's blog, A Femme d'un Certain Age, for awhile, since I became, ahem, such a femme...





It is a delightful blog, and the same witty and winning way she writes her blog, as if she is a glamorous sister sharing secrets, is everywhere in this new book.

What I love about this book, is its substance.  It's as if Tish set out to as our intrepid explorer, plumbing the depths of French beauty and style, just for us!  I learned lots in this book and it took me awhile to get through it, as I often had to stop and go look something up on the 'net to see if I could find the item she was talking about.  There is analysis here, not just anecdote, and for me that makes it a winning read. 

I would be lying to you if I said I was not a sucker for the French lifestyle book - Jennifer Scott's Lessons from Madame Chic is also on my shelf and is a fun read, as is Ines de le Fressange's Book, Parisian Chic and Entre Nous by Debra Ollivier. 

However, Tish's book takes on the older French woman and does add something to the genre.

Hot on Tish's heels is the new book by Mireille Guiliano, French Women Don't Get Facelifts, due out in December. I will be curious as to how this compares, as Tish has done such a wonderful job.

Of course this post made me think of the other style books on my shelf:

  • How Not to Look Fat/Old
  • Nina Garcia's various books
  • Tim Gunn's various books
  • Lloyd Boston's Books
  • The What Not to Wear gals
  • The Nothing to Wear boys
  • Wardrobe Wakeup
  • The Style Statement
Oh - they all had nuggets.  But most of them were recycling each other's books (My exceptions are the Nothing to Wear boys and the Style Statement book, which really helped me dig deeper.  Books that tell me I need a classic trench and white blouse are about to be binned forever - I KNOW people!

One of the things that has always been a struggle for me reading these types of books is that they are written by fashion editors or stylists.  They live a very different life than I do.  I much prefer my blogger friends who live more "real" lives or our own Stylist Jennifer of A Well Styled Life, who seems to be able to boil it all down in a way that I can get and which inspires me in its simplicity.  Dani  of Dani BP Mop Philosopher shows more panache than half the authors out there, because her style is authentically her own.

There is a process one must go through, I think, in redefining one's style.  You try on other's styles on the way to you own. 

The style books on my shelf want to give me rules.  Rules are good to master I believe, so that you can know how to break them later.  For example: I own one white blouse.  I do not like it despite its loveliness.  I realize now I need a great white knit top or t - THAT is what I feel comfortable in.  I have embraced neutrals more of late, but at my friend Dawn's 50th I was full on Wendy - pink paillette top, fancy pants and black suede ballet flats with gold and crystal cougars.  Full-on Wendy.  Well it was a 50th birthday party after all!

You gotta know yourself.

So do these books help or hinder?  If they are inspirational, they help me.  If they are informative, they help me.  If they are too prescriptive, I find they hinder.

How about you - what do YOU think?

Have a great Wednesday and stay safe out there!








 

57 comments:

  1. I agree with you about style books - anything prescriptive would annoy me greatly.... J says it's because I have oppositional defiance disorder and sleazy buck against anything I'm told to do!
    I don't think I own a single style book.... But that one sounds intriguing. I love reading real people's blogs, so perhaps a real person's style book wouldn't annoy me.
    Oh, and I don't own a white shirt either... Nor will I (although I seem to remember saying that about leopard print and look at me know!)
    I think that being true to our own inherent feelings of what suits us and feels good is the best possible route to style.
    I think I will try to track down that book to have a look!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hmm not sure where 'sleazy buck' came from? iPad autocorrect is a strange beast! I meant 'stubbornly buck'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no! You will ALWAYS be a sleazy buck to me!

      Delete
    2. Oh and me, "sleazy buck" sounds like really cheap bourbon that Blue Booby might just be making in a still out back.

      Delete
    3. Oh she would make sleazy buck, wouldn't she? And giggle all the way!

      Delete
    4. If BB is cooking up sleazy buck in her still I'll have to get myself over to hers!

      Delete
    5. See I read Ruth's comment and thought nothing of "sleazy buck". I have come to expect ALL kinds of things when visit Wendy's blog. Ha! We are going to a moonshine party Saturday…will be dangerous.

      Delete
    6. BB - you and I are forever scarred. Maybe you should have Hunter do a pre-read here!

      Delete
    7. Oh, the scarring none of us got to see! You and BB have a "sleazy buck" sisterhood!

      Delete
    8. Am howling here, I want a Sleazy Buck t shirt.

      Delete
    9. YES Tabs, we must make these t-shirts for our world tour!

      Delete
  3. I don't know most of these books, but read the Ines book...even her name is far more chic than mine! And kept thinking, yes, but of course you can do/wear that...you are the height of the Eiffel Tower, while I'm a mere bungalow. So unrealistic for what would suit me. Like you, I am tending to gravitate to like-minded 'real' women, friends and new blogger friends, like DaniBP! I love the way you have embraced your style, Wendy!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I hear you about so much of the style books or even retail sites - I just KNOW they will not look the same on me!!!

      Delete
  4. of all the silly books, Madame Chic is the goofiest. I had the distinct sense that the author had never slept under a roof, worn shoes, or used a fork before she went to France. New meaning to "raised by wolves." I lost patience very quickly.

    Tish is a doll, she actually names the products she uses. Now that is considerate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked that too Fred! It is so helpful - AND I learned so much!

      Delete
  5. That is the reason why I read blogs, I did a little stint in fashion or and honestly no one had their own style. It was sooo prescriptive and noone had any style of their own. Fashion robots. Now I am not saying all blogs are trendsetting either but I take what those books say with a pinch of salt...but I do agree that older French women is how they get their mystique bc young French girls are like any other. French women def have beauty secrets they don't share so it is nice to read these books for one nuggets!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CSW - I hear you! I am tired of seeing us all dress alike! I saw Alexis had a post on Jenna Lyon's top 10 commandments - now when I read commandments, I think - NO WAY!!!!!!

      Delete
    2. the thing is that even Jenna is rather formulaic if I am to be brutal!

      Delete
  6. Great question, Wendy.

    I find that the books all have some nuggets but that they all get a little formulaic. At some point you need to step back and just embrace being yourself.

    I did like Debra Ollivier's earlier book (forget the name!) because she talked a bit more about French attitudes to things. It was a bit stereotypical but a lot of it rang true for me based on my French family and friends. Those ideas get more to the heart of embracing who you are as well as life in all it's imperfections. Oops I meant its

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The comment box always freezes on me when I'm on my phone.

      Anyway, I wanted to say that I just read your beautiful post from Remembrance Day. I hope that you are doing well this week as you remember your parents and mourn their passing.

      Delete
    2. Hi Abby - thanks for the kind thoughts! I am doing well, though have messed up my back, (well this has been going on since August) and off to a masseuse again!

      I really hemmed and hawed about buying Tish's book, but am glad I did. Now I want to clean out 95% of the others...

      Delete
  7. I have most of these books too. Some help, some don't. I think it is important to remember that some one's white shirt IS your white pullover. Some one's little black dress could be your little navy dress. Learned from The Vivienne Files Blog. Where were these when I was twenty, thirty, forty, okay stopping now. Damn we're old ...but looking good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BB - I hear you!!!! and look at Hunter - he had his style down a LONG time ago!

      Delete
  8. I haven't read a style book since I was 15 or so, they helped me blossom but i wouldn't have any inclination to look at one now, (though I'm sure Tish's book is fab and I'd enjoy it on another level)
    I think style is individual and some people are just naturally more stylish.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tabs - that is interesting! I never read one till about 5 years ago! I think some people are naturally more stylish, but I do believe everyone can be stylish (back to your great post on creativity) and that it isn't for the goddesses, the rich aor the thin!

      Delete
    2. There's an old lady around here, well she's not that old actually,maybe 70's , she has amazing bouffant hair, wears metallic coats and pulls a tartan shopping trolley, I once ran after just to tell her amazing she looked. She dresses to the nines all the time, must snap her next time I see her.

      Delete
    3. Bouffant hair! So Jackie! Love it! You must get a pic!

      Delete
    4. I think I pretty much agree with Tabitha's comment above as well as yours -- I do think style is very individual and you have to figure out what works for you, which also means figuring out what you like and what works realistically with your real life, and being OK with that.

      Delete
  9. I do not read style books but I read a lot of health books like Andrew Weill's or Dr. Oz's before he became famous. Much of my look now I learned through a lot of trial and error. I'm still learning as I go along but I am now leaning towards comfort as I age.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marie - I am with you on comfort - comfort is key!

      Delete
  10. Wendy I'm like you I have so many style books. Honestly I should clear some out! And hey THANK YOU for the kind mention and compliment.
    Interesting about Tish Jett's book, I thought it would be a good one as she writes such a good blog.
    Your full-on Wendy outfit sounds totally excellent!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dani - it bordered on Marie Antoinette - however, a big hit with a 14 year old girl!

      Delete
  11. I don't typically read style books or fashion magazines. My mother always cautioned against them because they don't reflect real life and can cause people to be in a perpetual state of feeling inadequate rather than embracing the life and style they actually have. They also feed a continuous "want".

    I have watched a Tim Gunn show on TV and also read a bit of him on the internet. He seems very practical and doesn't push trends, even knocks some of them down, like capri pants. I wouldn't go out and buy his book though. I'm not interested enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. xoxo - your mum was a very wise woman, that advice can now be applied to certain blogs and Instagram accounts.

      Delete
    2. No xoxo - you have me fascinated here, because I know you have a fabulous wardrobe that you add to now and then, so how do you find your "finds"? YOu must do a post on that!

      Delete
    3. I second that - xoxo, please post your finds!!

      Delete
    4. Well I'm flattered that you're interested. I do have a few methods to source new additions so I'll share them in a post.

      Delete
  12. What a great post Wendy... I love it. Yes, It is well known that every woman should own a Trench and a white shirt/blouse... Really??? I do own a Trench and trust me I can count pretty fast how many times I have used it. I even think about selling it... And I don't own a white shirt/blouse... Do I consider myself less than stylish because of this... I am certainly nowhere close to Ines but I don't think that I should be ashamed of what I wear or how I wear it... So yes, some books could be informative and help giving base, but I can't remember who said that style is not about clothes but attitude (or something like that)...
    Enjoy your day.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I don't have a lot of these. My introvert used to pour over Bobbi Brown's teen Beauty which broke my heart. The funniest thing I've read in one of these-- those Brit what-not-wear gals-- was a description of a certain haircut as a "spaniel-do". Absolutely spot on and I still giggle when I see one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lane - I've had a spaniel -do all my life.

      Delete
    2. Tabs - is it time for a daschund-do?

      Lane - that is a whole other post. When is it negative or just trying to learn techniques?

      Delete
    3. Us gals with curly hair have the Poodle 'do. It's a mystery to me why people crimped their hair in the 80s and 90s. Affix a collar on me and call me Griselda.

      Delete
    4. Tabitha, you absolutely do NOT have a spaniel.

      I think if you don;t take it too seriously it's harmless, and when it becomes a form you must achieve, can be a minus. I think we have the right motives for looking for ideas and not identity here.

      Delete
  14. I do not own a white blouse or a trench, and I do not have any of the "coset basics" so to speak, but also have my "full on" moments, when I feel most comfortable in my clothes, style and skin. I've never read a style book, and find that too many women that work in the fashion industry look great for editorials, but are perhaps a bit impractical for "real life". I consider myself a "vintage/lady who lunches" kind of dresser, and that is what makes me happy. Whether it is sophisticated or not, I can't say. For you it is full-on Wendy, so who needs style books? True that there are rules to find more flattering cuts and fit tips, but nobody can tell you what looks like a million bucks! Clear that shelf and fill it up with your forthcoming novels, WMM!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That should have been "closet basics". I wish my autocorrect turned things into something more exciting like "sleazy buck".

      Delete
    2. excellent, excellent points AB!

      Delete
  15. Brilliant comment! Love every bits of it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I've read quite a few of those books you mentioned and it's true - by now I know most of the information. However, now and again I come across a new nugget, plus I just enjoy reading them. My favourite, which I dip into at least once a year, is A Year of Style, by Frederic Fekkai.

    I've also been reading Tish's blog for years and I'm looking forward to getting the book at Christmas - something tells me I might actually learn something new!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Frederik - he is so pretty!!!!

      I have never heard of that book!

      Delete
    2. It's like a diary of the year, things to do in January, February, etc., plus lovely photos, many taken in the South of France. I find it soothing to flip through it now and again.

      Delete
  17. I am a total sucker for any article about style and dos and dont' even if I disagree but having just read In Style magazine I didn't like any of the editors choices for stuff they must have - too fashionista for me. I love the blogs you've mentioned as well as your own - real style real clothing. And that book has the most gorgeous outfit - stripes and a floral skirt - Now of course Im going to do some trawling for that exact same thing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay - confession - I SOOOOO want to recreate that look - I love that! I am going to shop my closet though and use the floral pants I have that are almost the same pattern and pair then with a stripe tee!

      Delete
  18. Excellent post Wendy and great discussion. I have a few style books, mostly for vintage inspiration. Most style books I just rent from the library for fun. :) I agree though that style books are hard to live up to and are somewhat unrealistic, and eventually people don't bother trying to create their own style which is truly 'them', so they either allow themselves to go frumpy, or go for cringe-y trends, so everyone looks the same. Why not be one of a kind?

    The same goes for women who insist on having and maintaining long, wavy hair (either natural or via extensions) and mistakenly thinking that is the only way to look beautiful. Some women, i.e. Tabitha, look stunning with long wavy hair and definitely should wear their hair that way, others clearly not -- they all look the same. I'm glad that celebs like Jennifer Lawrence, Ginnifer Goodwin, etc have started wearing pixie cuts, proving that women look beautiful in shorter haircuts (shorter cuts are not limited to only older women), even Jennifer Aniston has cut her hair shorter now.

    Like you and the others, I enjoy reading real-life blogs which feature outfits which are realistic, a mixture of high-low price points, are about quality and are posted by those who put their unique stamp on their style. And I love hearing how others have found their one-of-a-kind finds!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Wendy,
    Sorry I'm late to the party, I've been away visiting my new joy!
    Thanks for the kind mention. I've read all the commercial style books, plus most of the professional ones, and break most of the rules! Style rules are asinine and limiting. The older I get, the more rules I break, and not just in fashion:). I just started Tish's book, it seems like it'll have some great tips. And tips are just that, suggestions not rules.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Sorry, late to this post - I have just one style book, Inès de la Fressange's Parisian Chic. I thought it had some good tips in there, and I liked that the tone was lighthearted. I tried reading Amanda Brooks' "I Heart your Style", but she overanalyzed the concept of style and it got kind of boring. I find the best style inspirations are from fellow bloggers, like you, Dani and Tabitha!!

    ReplyDelete

Kindness is a virtue...