|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.
Lol. Well, there you have it. Apparently I'm a lost cause, which is okay with me because I rather be wearing comfortable shoes. I have to mention I really enjoy reading your book reviews. Thanks for sharing your insights.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you enjoy them! I'm also a lost cause; probably low heels now and again doesn't quite make his cut ;)Delete
Thanks for such a refreshingly honest book review. Just out of curiosity when was this book published? Judging by your comments it seems a bit out of touch.ReplyDelete
2014, surprisingly. It feels much more early 2000s in the recommendations. A very limited audience, I guess, who might still follow these kind of 'rules'.Delete
Woah. Patriarchal and racist book. Did you put it in the recycling bin ? Yes it would be interesting as to when it was published. Also thanks for creating a fantastic blog. I really enjoy reading and one of my friends at sewing group who is an advanced couture level seamstress was complimenting your sewing and style too! Happy New Year.ReplyDelete
I'm so glad you enjoy reading, and thank you for the lovely compliment on behalf of your friend :)Delete
I was going to put this on the 'free' shelf at work for any takers, but couldn't even make myself do it. Recycle.
Love this review! I read it out to my husband and we both laughed and agreed with you! In Australia, or at least where we live, we would describe this author as a ‘tosser’. That’s quite polite actually.ReplyDelete
Ha! Yep, pretty much a complete tosser. Glad you had fun with the review, at least you won't have to read the book now ;)Delete
I love a good take-down review! Yikes -- the book sounds like a load of tripe. Now I'm off to do the groceries in my high-heeled nude pumps, hoping to please all those men out there who are entitled to see only 'hot' women in their daily lives. lolReplyDelete
Not a very useful book, really, unless you do like to do your daily errands in full makeup and heels, I guess... ;)Delete
I only recently found your blog and I love your book reviews! Thank you so much for being so honest with your feedback... very helpful!ReplyDelete
I'm glad you like them, Izzy! Thanks for the comment.Delete
This is a great review, thank you. I borrowed this book from the library a couple years ago and couldn't get through the whole thing. It reminded me mostly of one of the guys in a Mad Men scenario, staring at a woman and telling her what her assets and liabilites were. And Brescia actually uses those words - assets and liabilities. Yep, I'm just a commodity, out here trying to sell myself. LOLReplyDelete
Ha! So true. Mad Men era all the way.Delete