Book Review: Steal This Style

Steal This Style:  Moms And Daughters Swap Wardrobe Secrets:  Looks That Make Hip Classic And Classic Cool, by Sherrie Mathieson

From time to time I think about fashion, not because I am a particularly fashionable person but because it is a form of communication as well as a lucrative area of business and both of those are issues I tend to care a good deal about [1].  At any rate, this is the sort of book that is designed to give principles that a female reader of any age can apply to their own choice in apparel that is also designed to inform through repetition, so that a reader can develop a sense of taste by becoming familiar with examples of good and bad fashion in the eyes of the author.  The standards the author speaks about are not entirely subjective, as in general there is a great deal of similarity in what is urged as far as fashion is concerned by different people that have certain consistent principles.  Even if I am not a particularly fashionable person, as someone who is at least somewhat familiar with the relevant literature on the subject, there are at least consistent pieces of advice that I see when it comes to fashion advice that serves to demonstrate at least some consistency in approach.

This book is a simple one, and its message is pretty relentlessly consistent.  After an introduction about the tension between timelessness and freshness when it comes to fashion and an introduction of the suitably diverse group of women of various ages who serve as the models for the good and bad fashion choices, the author compares looks that are never cool from those that are forever cool in the hope of educating the reader in such matters.  The next five chapters then look at different occasions and show good and bad fashion choices for these different occasions:  sports, casual wear, business wear, fancy clothing, and going out at night.  After this comes a couple of chapters that look at accessories and putting everything together, along with discussions about sources of inspiration for good fashion as well as places to shop for stylish clothing along with thanks from the writer to various people.  The book in total runs a bit over 200 pages and is not a particularly difficult read, managing on communicating a great deal through pictures and the somewhat savagely funny notes that accompany them–especially the bad fashion choices.

There are some consistent principles that this book emphasizes over and over again that are well worth paying attention to.  The author tends to argue for a middle road when it comes to fashion, praising neutral colors while eschewing colors that are either too bland and boring or too loud.  There is praise of styles that are vintage or timeless and that combine the best of older styles with the best of contemporary ones while speaking negatively about clothing that is age inappropriate or holdovers from previous decades without any updating whatsoever.  The author praises clean lines and clothing that covers while showing off the feminine form underneath in classy and modest ways.  The author praises sprezzatura and speaks negatively about undue fussiness, a desire to draw too much attention, or dowdiness and inattention to one’s hygiene.  These principles are emphasized over and over again, as we see a variety of clothing that look great for different people.  One sees that certain fashions are interchangeable and certain fashions are best for people of particular height or build or age, and this is done in a matter that shows as well as tells.  Obviously, this book is aimed at a female audience, but for those women who care about the message that they send with their clothing there is a lot to offer here.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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