Little Black Book of Style – Review


I’ve just finished reading Nina Garcia’s The Little Black Book of Style.

With advice like “throw out what you don’t wear and what doesn’t look good on you” which is pretty basic stuff (though what many find hard to determine for themselves) there is some good advice to follow. Her basic 10 pieces of advice contain some very useful tips. But her obsession with only wearing high heeled shoes, unless travelling on a plane, is unrealistic and also not great for your poor feet (though it will keep a heap of podiatrists in work).
The next chapters on Inspirations which details a bunch of movies that you might find some fashions of their time well represented is dull. Then there are the musical persona’s that you may wish to consider as ‘inspiration’ which I’m not keen on as it’s not about working out who you are, but following in others footsteps.
The chapter on What to Wear When is useful for understanding what is appropriate for different dress codes – which many find confusing today. But the chapter titled Insider Tips is lots of Q&A style tips from ‘celebrities’ who give their opinion on what they like, not either particularly inspiring or useful.
This book is the kind of book you could easily browse in the bookshop, read the “Basics” chapter and move along.
Have you read it? What did you think?


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  • No, I have not read it and most likely won´t. You gave a pretty good view of it, and that´s enough. Yes, I have read similar articles in the media and every now and then I can find something interesting there. But, I think that your blog has been more thorough; the writing and all the comments!

  • I got it from the library and thought it a fun read, but for about the same reasons you did. The Basics and What to Wear chapters were the ones I liked while the Insider Tips felt more like name-dropping than anything else. Like the Isaac Mizrahi How to Have Style book, I think these books are fun one-time reads that are great to get from the library.

    Now I have to ask, have you read any books like this that you feel are keepers?

  • I usually try to be reasonably polite but… ordered it from Amazon and if it wouldn't have been so expensive to send back, would have returned. Superficial, badly-written, cliched.

    Your blog is way better. So, Imogen, when are you writing your book?

  • Another "skimmed and left on the shelf" experience.

    Agree your info on body proportions and how to develop a personal style is much, much better. How-to books rarely merge the latter! In fact I'm trying to think of any that do….

    As far as the straight proportion stuff, the book I'm actually wild about is designer Bradley Bayou's–though if you're like me you have to get over the title! ["The Science of Sexy," which refers to creating an hourglass shape.] WIth Bridgette Raes' book a close second.

    BB's book discusses dressing 4 main silhouettes, but breaks that down further by height and weight. [Because he feels–and I agree!–that what works best on a short, very slim Rectangle is going to differ somewhat for most flatters a tall, plus Rectangle etc etc.]

    Though if I'd found you before Bradley and Bridgette I might have saved some money, ha!

    Seriously, though, if you created a book that led people through proportion AND style assessment and came complete with polyvores/visuals for common "results" [so Short Legs/Big Bust + Dramatic vs Short Legs/Big Bust + Rocker etc] I think people would LOVE that.

  • I will pass on Nina's book on fashion advice. I would like to read the inside story of her days at Elle. That would make for some interesting reading.

  • I didn't read that one, only browsed through it in the bookstore and didn't find it very enlightening. But I orderer her "The one hundred" and liked it pretty well. She states in the beginning that the items chosen are HER personal one hundred and merely ment to inspire, which I think is a good idea. It also includes little boxes with historical information how certain items came into being and how they developed (the LBD, the trench, …) and while we probably know several of these stories already, it was still interesting to read.

    otherwise, I agree with commenters before… we are awaiting your style bible!

  • I'm glad I didn't spend money on this book…I got it from the library! In the few weeks I've been following your blog, I'm amazed at how much I have already learned. Thank you for sharing your talent!

  • I (purchased and) read Nina's book. I agree utterly with Duchesse. Cute pictures, though. I think I sold it back on Amazon. By the way, why isn't Nina on Project Runway anymore? It's just no fun without her and Michael Kors.

  • Yep, I've had a look at a few of these books, and never bought any of them.

    I particularly remember one (but don't remember the title) that advised women to develop their personality and clothing style along certain lines to conform with how men would relate to their body shape. Petite women should cultivate being adorable and in need of protection, with a classical, Audrey Hepburn style, blondes should be bubbly and outgoing and more sporty, etc. Yuck.

    This tall geeky blonde put that book down, picked up a Richard Dawkins book and called Imogen the next day.

    I think those books aim to be glamorous but not really useful. Or, at least, not useful unless you are a chronic high-heel wearer (or aim to be one). Not that there is anything a-priori wrong with that, but it's kind of a limited set.

    Even Trinny and Susannah have their issues. And I've found there is no substitute for the personal touch. I might be able to follow a system or particular approach to various body types/colourings, but I've found the major difficulty is being able to accurately judge where your characteristics fit within a system. I find it really difficult to make accurate, unbiased judgements of my physical appearance.

    But I do like the idea of finding them at the library and getting the basics. But I doubt I'd pay money for them.

  • My daughter really enjoyed this book: I bought it for her when she was 20. It's definitely a read for younger women who are just learning about style and developing their own sense of it.

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