Diet Coke Fashion Friday: Fashion Books Aren’t Just For Christmas (Part I)

I KNOW, I KNOW.  It’s far too early to be thinking about Christmas lists.

Actually no, it’s not really.  August is early. November is OK (but maybe a little bit questionable).  Now is the time where the start of gift lists and wish lists are starting to form in your mind, where an idea or a spark hopes to develop itself into THE BEST GIFT EVER GIVEN.

If you can’t think of the best gift that has yet to be given, let me suggest a book.  Books are great.  Unlike electronics, they don’t crash or freeze, they are incredibly tactile and the feeling of looking at a picture on a page is far superior to looking at one on a screen (it’s the glossiness, I think).

I’ve got some fashion book choices for the various people in your life.  Well, the people in your life who like fashion.  For everyone else, I’d suggest a book token.

1.  For the fashion connoisseur, the friend who knows everything there is to know, who can out-Lagerfeld Lagerfeld and scare Colin McDowell with their knowledge of industry trivia, it’s perfectly acceptable to pull out the big guns.  The out of print, highly covetable (and quite expensive) Antonio’s Girls by Antonio Lopez will mean you get free styling advice for years to come.  A compendium of sketches and photographs of muses including Jerry Hall and Tina Chow, this beautiful book by the late Lopez is something of a collectors item.

Honourable mention – Karl Lagerfeld’s Illustrated Fashion Journal of Anna Piaggi

Photo via Captain Magnets

2.  For the down-in-the-dumps friends, there’s nothing better than a flick through The Cheap Date Guide to Style for to restore you to your normal fashion equilibrium.  2012 has not been a great year for a lot of people (myself included) – the economy, the weather and the ever-looming tiny chance of apocalypse have a tendency to make a person feel less sure of themselves.  Cheap Date is a great book to make a person feel good and refine their style in a totally non-judgemental, self-celebratory way.  It’s amazing what a tiny change can make in a person’s outlook and this book reflects that.

Honourable mention – Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte

3. For the non-fiction friend who just can’t stop reading biographies, the life of September Issue breakout star and creative director of American Vogue Grace Coddington is a prudent gift choice.  I haven’t read Grace: A Memoir yet (it’s not out until November 22nd) but Vogue have already published an excerpt with suitably scandalous tidbits online – if a woman can mistake a condom for a chocolate mint then you know her outlook on life is going to be interesting.  The book will be accompanied with sketches from Coddington’s own hand.  They are all incredibly cute.

Honourable mention – D.V by Diana Vreeland

4. For the modeliser friend – the friend who has a slightly unhealthy obsession with models, I present to you Kate: The Kate Moss Book.  Published by powerhouse Rizzoli Books, it has eight, count ’em, eight different covers.  It is the definitive collection of images of the ever-chameleonic Moss. I don’t get the model-worship thing – even after just researching an article on Moss and her career I still don’t gt it – but I do get that model-worshippers will love this ridiculously heavy slab of a book.

Honourable Mention – Vogue Model: The Faces of Fashion (which, surprise surprise, also has Kate Moss on the over)

6. For the friend who wants to break into fashion media, this is the book to buy.  Granted, it might be a little bit dry to give a friend an academic textbook for Christmas, but they’ll thank you later.  This book goes through all aspects of fashion writing, from journalism to PR and everything in between.  No stone unturned – no angle unexamined, Writing For The Fashion Business will teach the reader exactly what it promises on the cover. It’s pricey, but well worth it.

Honourable mention – Mastering Fashion Styling


Related #8: Just what makes a person stylish?

So, yesterday’s column was about what makes a person stylish.  In my opinion (which is definitely not gospel, by the way) stylishness is contained within yourself and is limited to a few things.

  • Knowing what suits you.
  • Wearing an outfit with confidence and conviction.
  • Wearing clothes that say something authentic about you.
  • Not really caring that much about fashion (in terms of being on-trend and what’s hot right now).  Often when a person is deemed as being on-trend, it’s just a happy coincidence and not engineered to fit within a particular fashion moment.
  • And as an addendum, I ‘d like to add ‘having a great source of inspiration’ to the list.

Like a lot of people, I’ve digested my weight in fashion manuals.  I’ve read the Trinny and Susannahs, the Gok Wans, the Rachel Zoes (TOTAL DROSS), the Lauren Conrads (the less said about that, the better).  Simon Doonan, Diana Vreeland, Audrey Heburn, Karl Lagerfeld… if someone’s said something about being stylish, I’ve read it.

The best fashion manuals are the ones that compliment and celebrate YOU.  If you’re forced to squeeze yourself within a mould, you’ll be (and look) very uncomfortable.  Surprise, surprise, wriggling about in a pencil dress and battling with lip liner just because Jane Bryant told you to isn’t very stylish.  If you’re naturally a vintage vixen, you’ll probably look and feel amazing.

The worst fashion manuals are the ones that tell you to lose weight.  Slim people do somehow manage to look more put together (*shakes fist*)  by merit of their svelteness but that’s a product of the world we live in.  Being told to lose weight in order to look good?  That book is obviously written by a very lazy person with zero imagination .  Stylishness is not dependent on what you look like before you put any clothes on at all.

Oh, I’m ranting now. Excuse me.

Could this be the best style manual ever?

My favourite style manual, the one I impartially judge to be the best and the one that would suit the vast majority of women out there is probably The Cheap Date Guide To Style, by Bay Garnett and Kira Joliffe (whose dad drew the original Monster Munch monsters, how cool is that?).  Thrift shoppers and stylists extraordinaire, Garnett and Joliffe founded the now-defunct Cheap Date zine (someone bring out a compilation book please) which quickly developed a cult following for it’s celebratory, inquisitive, non-pretentious tone.*

Bay Garnett said in an interview (click here to read),

‘I have an ambivalent relationship with fashion. I sometimes think it is a force of evil. The yearning that it creates. Not for clothes, but for thinness, for beauty, for perfection, and of course for the thousand dollar t-shirt. But I also love fashion, it is what I do. I just did a ten page story for British Vogue. Loved doing it. Fashion is part of our times. Look back at old fashion pictures, they are such a potent and strong indicator of the age, of the time. I love that.’

If you’re down with that, then this book is for you.  Buying the book is highly recommended.  You can get used copies from a penny on Amazon, so now there’s no excuse not to.

Here are a few pages to give you a general idea of what the book is about.

Sources of inspiration

Interviews with interesting, stylish people

How to have fun with your wardrobe

A list of classics to compliment everything

*And to the person who just outbid me at the very last second for Cheap Date No.5 – you are an utter bastard.  Calm thoughts, Sarah, calm thoughts…