There is one important part of the clothing makeover that I left out before—style. Previously, I was just aiming to not look bad as inexpensively as possible. However, for many people, there is another level—a personal style. Tim Gunn discusses the need to acquaint yourself with particular looks and choose a style mentor. He lists many women and several common styles, but because his book doesn’t have pictures, I had sort of skipped over that part. The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style fills in the gap with MANY pictures, lists of key items, shots of iconic wardrobes, and lists of stores to shop at to get the look (most are very expensive). It covers ten styles:
1) Euro Chic (early Catherine DeNeuve, Carine Roitfeld, Charlotte Gainsbourg)
2) California Casual (Faye Dunaway)
3) Rock and Roll (Debbie Harry)
4) Posh Eclectic (Kate Winslett, Helena Bonham Carter, Cate Blanchett)
5) Mod (Selma Blair, Zooey Deschanel, see “Austin Powers” movies)
6) American Classic (Grace Kelley, Katherine Hepburn, Jackie Onassis)
7) Bombshell (Marilyn Monroe, Ditta Von Teese, Sophia Loren, Scarlett Johanssen)
8) Arty Slick (Tilda Swinton, Bjork)
9) Bohemian (Ali MacGraw, Stevie Nicks)
10) Gamine (Audrey Hepburn, Sofia Coppola, Natalie Portman, Kirsten Dunst)
It also has a limited “Mix and Match” section at the end.
This book is a real departure from The One Hundred’s simple philosophy that owning a number of classic can’t-go-wrong pieces would allow you to assemble “classic” looks that are uniquely you. It is a book about “looks” someone else made famous and that a million other people are all trying to copy better than the next person. While I believe fashion to be a kind of language, and that you need to learn the vocabulary, I doubt this book is the best way to do it. It is filled with too many pictures of “essentials” disembodied from people, making it difficult to see what makes them essential or how they would go together in an outfit. In short, it can lead to that junior high mentality of deciding who the cool girls are and then trying to get their clothes. The best part about it is that by seeing other people’s wardrobes and hearing them talk about their choices, you begin to be able to see yourself in more daring styles. However, that could probably be better accomplished by watching iconic women in the films that created the styles. In Tim Gunn’s book, he lists a movie for most of the looks he identifies:
1) Euro Chic?/Les Francaises—Catherine DeNeuve in “Belle de Jour”
2) Masculin/Feminin—Katharine Hepburn, Coco Chanel “Masculin/Feminin”, “Desk Set” ”, “Last Year at Marienbad” (Costumed by Coco Chanel)
3) Risk Takers—Kate Moss, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chloe Sevigny, “Sex in the City” *Tim Gunn notes that you should only borrow one piece from any outfit of theirs.
4) Rock and Roll—Debbie Harry, Patti Smith, Cat Power, or your favorite rockstar.
5) Bohemians—Beatrice Wood, Donna Karan, Edith Bouvier Beale, “Grey Gardens”
6) Les Doyennes—Deeda Blair, Pauline de Rothschild, Lee Radziwell
7) Power Brokers—Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Vanessa Redgrave “Blow Up,” “The Devil Wears Prada”
8) American Classic—Anything with Grace Kelly or Katharine Hepburn. “The Philadelphia Story”, “Rear Window”, “To Catch a Thief”
9) Bombshell— “L’Avventura”, “Il Grido”, “How to Marry a Millionaire”
10) Siren—Angelina Jolie, Nigella Lawson, Julie Christie “Dr. Zhivago”, “Darling”, “The Go-Between”, “Shampoo”
11) Gamine (the Audrey Hepburn “waif” look)—“Funny Face” or “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” more recently, “Amelie.”
So queue up the NetFlix and settle on the styles you like. The goal is to get a clearer picture of how clothes can help you achieve particular looks and to fall in love with pieces that could make your signature look. If you need a little extra help, our friend Tracy does fashion consulting. She helped me five years ago when I had no idea what to do. In about five hours, I went from having four items of clothing to having an entire wardrobe. Having her hand me something I thought was crazy and then seeing how chic it looked on gave me the courage to move away from "cute" to "professional and hip." Sometimes another point of view is what you really need to remake your style.