“Point is, getting dressed shouldn’t be about perfection; it should be liberating and fun, in the same way that digging into your dress-up trunk when you were a little girl was the best way to spend an afternoon.”
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, even though I’ve liked fashion and fashion photography for awhile, it took me a long time to get in to fashion. You know, to really care about what is popular and what the designers are doing and what looks good on me compared to everyone else.
And being completely honest, I still have no idea what I’m doing.
I know art and photography and composition and color but I do not know jack shit about how to get myself dressed and put on makeup and make my hair look good, so when I saw Lauren Conrad Style in the teen section—yes, the teen section—of Barnes & Noble I thought I would give it a shot to see if I could learn anything. All I knew about Lauren Conrad was that she made some awesome professional-but-party-ready clothes at Kohl’s and was maybe on a thing called The Hills, but the book looked like an awesome how-to guide so I thought what the hell, let’s see what she’s got.
Overall, it was a great read. It was light, quick, and fun, and I managed to get through it cover to cover in just an evening. I wish I’d taken more notes, actually, because the book is filled with all kinds of great, solid advice and plenty of reference materials. She doesn’t just say “buy this,” she gives stores and places that you can buy these things. Overall, it’s exactly what I expected: a handbook for building your own style, learning how to coordinate your clothing, and choosing pieces that flatter you and your body type without shaming you for that. The chapters include a list of wardrobe “staples” that everyone should have, explanations of how to mix and match pieces so that you don’t have to go broke, ways to shop for different kinds of clothing, and even go into the hair and makeup side of thing. One of my favorite chapters also has a pile of packing lists so that you remember all the right pieces while you travel, depending on how long your trip is. I absolutely know I will be using that.
It also includes a lot of little “tricks of the trade” that are less thrown-together Pinterest suggestions and things that seem better suited to the sorts of magazines my mother used to read, like how to keep your blue jeans more blue (as simple as turning them inside out when you wash them!), how to touch up a suede bag that is getting ratty, that sort of thing. I especially liked that these sorts of tips spoke to those of us who don’t have a very large budget to begin with and want to get the most out of our clothing. There were a few bits of advice that made me wince—like where she suggests putting the contents of your purse into one you’re looking to buy to judge the weight; when you aren’t a well known TV star I’m pretty sure that might get you in trouble—but for the most part they were awesome, practical, and easy.
One of the biggest flaws this book has, however: Lauren, girl, this guide is great and I love the suggestions to custom-fit your clothing so that it suits you better, but who the hell actually knows how and where to find a cobbler? A tailor? A sweater reweaver? Did any of you reading this actually know that a sweater reweaver was a thing? Because I sure didn’t before I read this book. Of course, I could Google all of these things, but the book itself doesn’t tell you how in the world you’re supposed to find these artisans of yore, much less how to tell a good one from some guy on the street with some scissors and glue. I’d love to take this broken pair of black suede peep-toe heels in my closet to a cobbler to get a new rubber thing put on the heel, but I have no idea what to even look for in a cobbler. At the very least, though, she did make us feel like these were real options, and she did include a number of suggestions for things like hemming your own pants without taking them to a tailor.
The other place this guide really fell short, in my opinion, was in the hair and makeup sections. I ended up skipping a lot of the hair talk because it was almost exclusively for people with long hair. I get that Lauren Conrad has long hair and we should all aspire to her golden goddess waves, but I have a half bob/half undercut/half pixie monstrosity on my head that cannot be tamed with a blowout and curlers, so most of that advice was useless to me. I also found the makeup chapter seriously lacking in photos: we only get to see the finished product and no demonstration of how to achieve that. Just step by step explanations with the hope that you know what the hell a kabuki brush looks like (I didn’t) or what any of these motions mean. So it was helpful in spirit, but not exactly helpful in practicality.
With everything that I didn’t like about this book, there was a ton about it that I loved. I’m going to be re-reading what staples I should have before I go shopping next, and I have half a mind to sit down with the chapter on what pairs with what and see how many outfits I can make out of my wardrobe. On one hand, I definitely felt like some of it was information I already knew, but that was the beauty of it: I didn’t feel like I was being talked down to or shamed, I felt like Lauren was some weird out-of-touch friend who sees Louboutins as something that everyone has in their closet. And that was pretty cool.
My Rating: 3 classic bright red lipsticks and a bedazzled bobby pin