Collins recently sent me a copy of The Little Black Book of Style to review; not one to turn down free books, I said "Yea, O Publisher, send unto me," and I was glad I did.
This gladness took the form most often called smugness, as the lovely and talented Nina Garcia agrees with me on all the important points of style, to wit:
"Your closet should be full of only pieces that look good on you and make you feel good about yourself" (see my post here)
"A stylish woman makes me want to walk up to her and say "Where did you get that? … I just have to find out where it is from. A flea market, her grandmother's closet, wherever." (see my post about clothes & stories here)
"Go a little crazy. Be a little dramatic. Have a lot of fun." (the 'crazy' skirt, here)
Now, I know, I know, Ms. Garcia is on The Television, and I am not (or, I am, but rarely, and never talking about fashion) so perhaps I should not be saying how happy I am that she agrees with me, but how glad I am to agree with a internationally-known arbiter of style. But if you have been reading this blog for a while, this is a book you won't get into arguments with, or mutter "What is she thinking?" on every other page. Instead, you will do a lot of nodding (when you aren't gazing lovingly at the Ruben Toledo illustrations).
The one point on which Ms. Garcia and I will have to agree to disagree is the necessity of having a faaaaaabulous handbag. I think that a Chanel 2.55 bag is quite possibly the most horrible handbag ever, totally boring, and expensive to boot. (And it doesn't have a pocket for my Treo, which tells you where I'm coming from.) Nor would I wait a gazillion years for a Hermés Birkin bag, even if I thought that kind of money was chump change. (In fact, I hate the whole handbag-industrial complex, and come the revolution I will cheer as they are driven through the streets in a tumbril.)
The fashion-advice bits (aside from the handbag stuff) are straightforward and sensible; the brief biography she allows herself is interesting and the quotations scattered through the book are apt (although one wishes they were SOURCED, but not everyone is as OCD about that as reference book editors …). Her what-to-wear-when advice is pretty good — I wish she had forbidden wearing black as well as white to weddings but I may have to silently resign myself to being the only person alive to follow that rule.
It's a small book, though, and it is padded with the plots of important fashion movies (!) and thumbnail 'who-dat?' sketches of fashionable rock stars (!!) and an incredibly brief timeline of 'fashion history', none of which is especially useful to anyone who was born before 1995. The paragraphs (one each) given to Africa and fashion and Asia and fashion were also a bit painful, and could have been cut without harm to the book or Ms. Garcia … there is also a series of Q&As with various fashion-y people, the quality of which is uneven. Some of them are funny, revealing, and generous, and some of them seem to have been emailed via a Blackberry from the back of a cab.
In short, if you want a petite, elegantly-designed, sensible book on style, this is for you. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but there's nothing stupid, either (except for maybe those Africa- and Asia-in-fashion paragraphs), and that's not to be sneered at. I recommend it!