|Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life / George Brescia|
NY: Gallery Books, c2014.
Let's start with the good:
This cover is glorious. The colours, the texture, it's all immensely appealing. I hope the designer got a bonus for this one, since it makes a mediocre book seem irresistible. It has visual interest and a tactile appeal as well. Great job on it.
The other good I got out of this book was Brescia's reflection that your clothing speaks for you -- when you put an outfit on, ask yourself, "What does this say?" It's a good question to have in mind when I'm looking at what I have in my closet, or fabric stash, and when making plans for the next project.
Sadly, not much else about this book can be recommended. Though why I thought a white guy from NY would be able to add to my style conversation, I'm not sure.
It's much of the same old "styling tips" that are seen everywhere. He uses the old-fashioned colour types for women, and the most notable thing there is that his colour types are pretty much for white women. Everyone else can get squeezed into a corner with brunettes, maybe. And there is his belief that a straight, blow-out hairstyle is the best (ie: sexiest) one to have. So much for anyone with natural curls, you're just friendly, not hot. Another element is the tired idea of must-haves for everyone's closet - the nude (ie: light beige) pumps, the little black dress etc. Yawn.
And the whole point of his style makeover seems to be the idea that every single woman who wants to have style is really aiming to be hot and appealing to men. In the last chapter he smugly says that a middle aged client of his reports that she is now so stylish that she got cat-called! Hooray! I personally don't find that an outcome to look for.
There are other flaws too; he mentions librarians twice -- the first time to say how frumpy we all are, and the second to praise the sexy librarian stereotype. Neither of these statements helps our profession AT ALL, and the second in particular has caused actual harm. So I didn't feel very warmly about this use of 'funny' commentary.
The most egregious elements are simply the complete disregard for women of any skin tone besides white. He doesn't say it right out, but in all the silhouettes, the assumptions about dressing for work, the colour tones and hair styles -- it all points to rich white lady as his primary client. Which, if so, should have just been stated right out at the beginning so the rest of us could avoid the book.
Other readers have also mentioned his disdain for ugly orthopedic shoes with no awareness of why people might be wearing them (if you're not wearing heels every day, you're apparently a lost cause). And his view of "style" being defined as the most effective way to please the male gaze.
So, let's just say this was not the style book I was looking for. Good thing I found it at the Goodwill for only a dollar. Save yourself that dollar and pick up one of the books on style and fashion written by women -- like Stacy London's The Truth About Style -- or a book on fast fashion and sustainability, which also covers wardrobe, like The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth Cline or Dress [with] Sense by Redress.