Little Black Book of Style


There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to find the perfect outfit amidst a sea of ill fitting, outdated, or just plain uninspiring options (the latter of which tends to be the case for me, with the exception of dresses and fancy shoes). So when our friends at The Parent Bloggers Network offered an opportunity to review The Little Black Book of Style by Nina Garcia (of Project Runway and Elle magazine fame; published by Harper Collins), of course I was eager to do so.
Parallel to the creations that strut down Project Runway though, Garcia’s book is, in my opinion, a bit of a mixed bag. This is not a book for those seeking documentation of hard and fast fashion rules (e.g., what’s inappropriate to wear after Labor Day), and Garcia makes her point of view clear from the get go. Instead, her approach is to offer basic fashion tips (e.g., how to edit your wardrobe, what pieces you should invest in, the importance of fabulous shoes, accessories, and a good tailor, how not to be a fashion victim), and general guidelines on the types of clothing appropriate for various occasions (e.g., cocktail hour, meeting the in-laws, etc.). These tips are meant to provide a foundation on which one builds confidence and a sense of style; gravitating towards what intrigues and flatters, rather than chasing down every trend in the latest magazine.

There’s a bit of irony here of course, given that the spreads at Elle inherently offer fodder for said trend chasing. But Garcia continues to emphasize individuality throughout the book, and I appreciate her descriptions of the importance of embracing flaws and stylish imperfection, and the notion that fashion is expensive but style is not (kudos to Target and H&M). The book also really comes across as Garcia’s voice (i.e., not a ghostwriter), based on what we Runway fans know of her, anyway.

So what are the cons? The sections on fashion inspiration via pop culture, fashion guru Q&A, and decade trends seem less useful to me. In order to evolve into the cool little guide that accompanies women when they hit the retail pavement, Little Black Book would be well served by photos to offer examples of how, for instance, one might go about mixing H&M with Prada, or what that must-have Jackie O. bag looks like (to serve the purposes both of those who seek the real thing, and those looking to improv on a budget). I also think a section including basic fashion tips to help women understand the silhouettes and styles that complement different body shapes and features would really make this book a go-to guide.