Monday, July 4, 2011

A Stylish Book Report: The Style Strategy by Nina Garcia

Finally a style how-to book I can fully embrace!  You may have picked up from previous posts I am somewhat of a clothing collector that loves to reinvent vintage, and embraces the cyclical nature of fashion.  You probably do not know I am lucky to act as steward to a small collection of hand-me-down duds from generations of my relatives from the 1800s to today.  Daunting, maybe, but a ton of fun!  With this in mind I always get annoyed when the first instruction in a style book is to purge anything you haven’t worn in a year.  Leave it to Nina Garcia to make me happy with her book The Style Strategy.

The Style Strategy is described as “A less-is-more approach to staying chic and shopping smart,” clearly it was written with the most recent economic downturn fresh in the mind, but it is more than a recession-ista guide to being stylish.  Nina gives great guidance on logical editing, reinvention, construction quality, and appropriate care of clothing and accessories.  She presents all of this sometimes less than sexy information with the same colorful illustrations, interesting historical fashion facts, and enthusiastic love of all that is stylish as her other fantastic guides.  The Style Strategy is a great intro for vintage shoppers, conservationists, fashion history enthusiasts, and artistic types alike.  
First in the book is a section on evaluating what you have and, yes, there may be purging involved.  Unlike other guides that direct blind purging, however, this evaluation section provides knowledge of garment quality, historical reference, and teaches an eye for how to find the treasures.  There are two types of clothing: disposable and collectible.  Many of today’s affordable clothing falls in the disposable category not because it isn’t stylish but because the construction is not finished to last longer than a few seasons.  After a few seasons unfinished edges begin to fray, colors significantly fade, hems pucker, or fabrics stretch out of shape.  Such is the case with some vintage as well.  Challenging are the fabric crazes of different eras.’  Some by necessity and scarcity of materials, others as technologies newest and greatest synthetics have fallen out of favor.  Sections one and two of this guide help you sort through them all to determine what really needs to go, and what can be reinvented and incorporated into new styling. 
When it comes to vintage, and some newer things also, a split seam, or imperfect fit is not necessarily a sign of low quality or a reason to give up hope.   Time could be the culprit in such wear and these errors may be cheated with appropriate care.  Section 3 of The Style Strategy describes the how, what, and where to get these workable imperfections addressed.  By highlighting tailoring, mending, caring for clothing and accessories it gives the option to extend the life of each item, and opens the wearer up to creating one of a kind and unique items.  It is also full of interesting info on how to tap stores off the beaten path for low cost, high quality items to incorporate into a wardrobe going forward.  Dance stores for tights, and flats; import boutiques for tunics and beaded items; and a plethora of other shopping resources.  Nina gives us her personal references on how to navigate so many shopping options for a find. 
In The Style Strategy Nina Garcia turns a frugal approach to fashion into an opportunity to feature individuality and ingenuity.  If you enjoyed reading the other style guides she penned you will also enjoy this book.  If you are looking for a light and fun introductory guide to discerning value beyond brand label you will also love this book.  The Style Strategy is a book to read for entertainment, knowledge, and is a good one to keep for reference.

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