Monday, October 25, 2010

Behold the Holy Grail of Style

Two years ago, while looking for a good read in my former university's library, I spotted this book sandwiched in between two design books that I do not remember anymore. I picked it up, and the first thing that I noticed was the author's name, Nina Garcia. I racked my brain and tried to remember where I heard it, when my eyes fell on the statement just below her name. And then I realized that she was that judge that I do not pay much attention to in Project Runway. (I'm telling you though, this was bound to change when I turned that first page.)

I was really bored, and so far I haven't found anything good (other than this) to read, so I went back to my table and started reading it. And little did I know that I just made one of the best decisions of my life. That was a tad too dramatic, I know. But, it's true. This book was what made me pursue my dream in Fashion. I've always had it, but I was still not confident enough to pursue it. After reading the Author's note, I knew then that I wanted to be like her. I wanted to be like the women she described in her note. I eventually borrowed the book from the library, and ended up getting an overdue fine for not returning it for three months.

The book covers the foremost basic principles of how one can build their personal style, starting off with confidence. The first chapter, Be Your Own Muse, is my ultimate favorite. Nina Garcia discusses how more important style, confidence and embracing one's perfections are than beauty alone. Put all of these together, and say hello to a better you. As Nina says: And once you've got confidence, the rest is gravy.

The second chapter is entitled, The Basics, which is also my favorite. It talks about the basic steps to finding your personal style and making it work for you. Style has no rules. Style should be free and unpredictable. But most of all, it should be personal. Although, there are basics that one must know by heart in order to become a style icon, this chapter won't tell you what to wear on what, as Nina says about the whole book. These steps will just guide you from editing your wardrobe, investing in the must-haves, importance of shoes, accessories, and a good tailor, mixing up your clothes, all the way down to working with your imperfections. You will definitely have fun while reading this chapter as you get to know more about yourself and how you want to convey it to the world.

This is one of many remarkable quotes that you will find in the book, which is found on the first page before the Preface. I guess, in some ways, this is what the book is all about: Inspiration, and to inspire more women to become like the women that inspired Nina. And she discusses more of that in chapter 3. All various forms of inspiration from movies, music, travel, art, and a whole lot more, are talked about here. Nothing in this world is ever original anymore. As they say, life inspires art inspires life. Everything is a vicious cycle, but as we recreate them, they can become ours.

The last three chapters of the books are what I call the technical chapters. In these chapters, Nina helps us out on how to know what outfit should be worn for different occasions. With all the different kinds of events with different kinds of themes, we've got to admit that it's getting confusing. We wouldn't want to go to a party underdressed or overdressed, right? So with the knowledge of the few terms commonly used for these occasions, we can avoid being called fashion victims.

Another exciting chapter of the book is chapter 5 called, Insider Tips and Tricks. Just as the name suggests, Nina has interviewed some important names in the fashion industry, from Diane Von Furstenburg to Rachel Zoe, to give us tips on how to survive in the world fashionably and stylishly. It's another way to get close to our favorite designers, models, and icons. It's the next best thing to stalking these celebrities' Twitter accounts.

The last chapter of the book entitled, Fashion Cliff's Notes, Decade by Decade, will be very helpful for those who are studying, or is just interested in Fashion History. It's actually fascinating. I used to think History is quite boring, but Fashion history is definitely something else. I wish I'd bought this book when I was studying the subject, because it will be more fun digging through the facts with all those pretty illustrations by Ruben Toledo, rather than reading my black and white handouts word for word.

This book is definitely a must-have. Every single word and every page with Ruben Toledo's illustration are worth every dirham. So, go to your nearest bookshop, and order a copy! Last I heard, Magrudy's in Al Wahda Mall, and BooksPlus in Khalidiyah Mall still have copies. But for the meantime, I'll leave you with my favorite Chanel quote. I didn't know it was in the book until I took the picture.

And some more of Ruben Toledo's lovely illustrations..

Table of Contents
Ruben Toledo is the god of Illustrations

Lovely, aren't they? You might also want to check out Nina's other books that followed The Little Black Book of Style: The One Hundred, Style Strategy, and her latest book, Nina Garcia's Lookbook. Order them now! 


  1. Im not a Nina Garcia fan but this book looks great. I really enjoy style books and they are great to look back on in a few years to see how style has changed.

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  2. Hey Daisy!

    I honestly didn't know her before I read her book. I mean, I was familiar with her because I watch Project Runway. I didn't pay much attention to her though, like I said. But, after reading my book, she is now my hero. :)

    You should get a copy! It's really a great style book. I also love style books. They never run out of inspiration. :)

    Thanks for the comment! I would love to hear more from you. :)