Saturday, February 21, 2009
Fashion can be bought; Style, one must possess!
I don't recall now where I ran across the review for "The Little Black Book of Style" by Nina Garcia, but I picked it up a little while ago and just finished reading it last night. I loved the show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and still love "What Not to Wear" (American version, not BBC!) because of their emphasis on finding a way to be yourself, to be an individual and unique, but still look good. The Fab Five in particular were good at just adding some polish to the straight guys, without taking away what made them unique fellows or trying to shove them all into one ill-fitting uniform mold. From the reviews, "The Little Black Book of Style" seemed to have much the same tone as those shows.
And I was not disappointed! Ms. Garcia is not the most polished or eloquent writer I've ever run across, but she has some great points to make about what it means to be stylish. She bashes wanna-bes who always have the latest/greatest "it bag" and who drape themselves in trends, and sings the praises of those women who know how to mix classics and basics with vintage, ethnic, or otherwise unique pieces...something I always try to do, but doubt I always succeed, ha.
But there were a couple of points she made which I think apply to many more areas of your life than just what's in your closet. One is that if it doesn't fit or doesn't make you happy and you only still have it around for nostalgic or other reasons, get rid of it! We're all guilty of that, I think. The "Oh, it was SO expensive when I bought it that I just CAN'T get rid of it!" pair of shoes that pinches your feet so you never wear, or the "This was my favorite shirt in high school and has so many memories!" that no longer buttons and has a coffee stain on the front anyway. And all those things do are take up space and make you unhappy. So why not pare them away and replace them with things that make you feel fabulous? Why not get rid of that crappy job, that toxic "friend," that pile of unfinished projects that you know will never become finished ones?
And the other point was that you can be your own muse, but also look for inspiration in others, without contradiction. I think we all do that to some extent, too. I click around on Etsy and Flickr, looking at all the wonderful and amazing things, wishing I could have been the one to do that, or that, or, wow, look at THAT! But I didn't, and I can't, really. You can't walk through the same river twice, and you can't take the same photograph or make the same necklace as someone else, even if you use the same camera or the same materials. Every creative gesture, whether it is what you put on your body or how you see the world through a camera lens, is necessarily influenced by your own mind and personality. So you can look at what other people have done and you can take inspiration from their efforts, but always remember that being yourself is not only acceptable; it's the ideal!
I enjoyed the book enough that I think I'll take a look at Garcia's other title, "The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own."