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I was recently given a copy of Nina Garcia's Little Black Book of Style. Ms. Garcia is the fashion director at Elle magazine as well as a judge on Project Runway. I am a huge fan of Project Runway and always enjoy Ms. Garcia's sometimes scathing, sometimes laudatory comments of the clothes the designers create. I am not, however, a fashionista. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I like my clothing to be comfortable and functional - I have an almost-three year-old and a 13 month-old. Even on their best days, they're little grime machines, so right now, I need clothes that will withstand their assaults.
That said, I enjoy fashion and when I do have the chance to get gussied up, I want to look put together. This book was definitely a primer on how to do just that. She urges women not to fall victim to fads of fashion, but rather to sculpt their own sense of style.
The easy, conversational tone of this book make it feel, for the most part, as though you're having a discussion with a good friend about clothes and shoes and handbags. She's never patronizing and she's not all about high-end fashion, telling you that you can find gems at H&M and Target and that an L.L Bean tote is just as classic as a Coach bag. Her description of being yanked out of the hot-house fashion world she inhabited in Columbia and being plunged into the preppy world of a Wellesley, MA boarding school are rather amusing - I'm a dyed-in-the-wool New Englander and I would imagine she stuck out like a sore thumb.
The illustrations in this little tome are fantastic. They are by Ruben Toledo and they perfectly complement the text. My only quibble with this book is the section of interviews she does with people like Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Carolina Herrera. She asks each person the same set of questions and after the first few, it gets monotonous.
I enjoyed this book. It's not a deep read and it didn't really tell me anything that I didn't already know, but it was informative nonetheless. The illustrations alone are worth the cover price - even if you don't get anything out of the book, you can always frame those fabulous pictures (which, sadly, I couldn't find online - just trust me, they're fantastic).