Looking to Look Your Best? We Can Help You with That!

clothesWell, not us, per se, but our books can.

Although you might not always be able to tell from looking at me, I am interested in fashion. Not in the haute couture, runways and fashion week kind of way, but more in the “I like to look my best and make sure that what I’m wearing flatters and doesn’t make me look worse” kind of way. I hear from a lot of people that they can’t wear this or that color or type of clothing. I believe that if you are able to locate something that fits you well, everyone can wear just about anything. (Except skinny jeans: I draw the line at skinny jeans for a lot of people!)

I also have more than a passing interest in makeup and skin care. As a woman-of-a-certain-age, I have to wear different makeup and use different skin care products than I did 20 years ago. I like to research what works best for my skin type and particular issues I am having. I also prefer to find bargains, rather than paying exorbitant prices for a tiny, little jar of something that might not even work.
I have found several books at the Library helpful for both my makeup and wardrobe investigations. Below are some of the items I have used and benefitted from. Even if you are skeptical about this sort of thing, try one. You just might find a tip that will improve your whole outlook.

You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal about You by Jennifer J. Baumgartner – Each chapter of this book reads like a What Not to Wear episode. You are presented with a wardrobe dilemma (look is outdated, have a shopping addiction, if you dress too revealingly) and then the author walks you step by step through the thought and organization process to change. My only wish was that this book had pictures. Oh, and color.

Bobbi Brown Pretty Powerful: Beauty Stories to Inspire Confidence, Start-to-Finish Makeup Techniques to Achieve Fabulous Looks by Bobbi Brown with Sara Bliss – This guidebook is part makeup techniques and part inspirations for living. You decide what kind of person you are (in temperament and lifestyle, as well as beauty routine) and you get a template for daytime and nighttime makeup application. Then you get to meet several women who embody that style, both famous and not. There’s a picture of each with and without makeup, plus a little bit of their “story”. Affirmation that truly beautiful women come in all shapes, sizes, colors and walks of life.

Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet by Tim Gunn with Ada Calhoun – Like the sub-title states, this book is less about helping you find the right clothes to fit your frame and more about giving you the history of everything from miniskirts to capri pants to high heels. I find it all fascinating, plus I love all of the old fashion photos.

The Wardrobe Wakeup: Your Guide to Looking Fabulous at Any Age by Lois Joy Johnson – Fashion advice for those of us at the other end of the age spectrum. How to look chic without dressing like your daughter or granddaughter. “Clothes are a necessity, fashion is an option, and style is your choice.” AMEN!

Jemma Kidd Make-Up Secrets by Jemma Kidd– Looking for step-by-step instructions and diagrams for the application of every type of makeup known to womankind? Then this is your book! A teenage girl I know is always asking me for makeup advice. (“How do you do a smoky eye?) I think I’ll be giving her this book instead of trying to explain it myself.

I Want to Be Her!: How Friends & Strangers Helped Shape My Style by Andrea Linett – The author provides a backdrop of her style for each phase of her life thus far – childhood, high school, the Hamptons, college, the magazine years – and then gives names, bios, and style choices of those she was acquainted with during that time who influenced her style and how. This could be as simple as “wear what you love.”

The Truth about Style by Stacy London – This is all about “Yes…and?” Yes, you may have certain issues with your body, but you need to accept them, not ignore them. And then you can begin to dress in a way that emphasizes what you want to, and minimize what you don’t. Each chapter is a woman who wrote her a letter asking for fashion advice. Stacy then breaks down each woman’s ʺproblemsʺ giving solutions for each and explaining why. You get to learn about Stacy too. For example, do you know why she went from a size 10 in season one to a size 4 in season two?

How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor’s Secrets to Getting Gorgeous without Breaking the Bank by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig – I love, Love, LOVE this book. A professional magazine beauty editor gives out the secrets for how to look your best, even when on a budget. For each high-end product that she recommends, she also gives a budget-friendly alternative. There are also instructions for achieving certain “looks” sprinkled throughout. I made a list of all the products I wanted to purchase and took the list shopping with me. I found, purchased, and have really liked several things that I would never have tried without this book.

Wear This Now: Your Style Solution for Every Season and Any Occasion by Michelle Madhok with Eileen Conlan – You’ll probably want to buy this book and keep it on your shelf as a reference. It breaks down every season, telling you what’s on sale to buy now (for other seasons), what pieces are must-haves for the season’s wardrobe and helpful advice on how to select and wear certain pieces of clothing – “How to Wear Thigh-High Boots, without Looking Like a Hooker” anyone? Plus the added bonus of what outfits you should wear for every possible occasion from a New Year’s Day Brunch to meeting the future in-laws to an orthodox wedding. Practical advice all around!

How to Look Hot in a Minivan: A Real Woman’s Guide to Losing Weight, Looking Great, and Dressing Chic in the Age of the Celebrity Mom by Janice Min – How to look and feel great after having a child (or children) is the premise for this one. Basics for revamping your wardrobe, hair, makeup and even your refrigerator to make sure that you can be at your best no matter how little time you may have for yourself (It was interesting to see that some of the makeup and skin products recommended matched those in the book above).

Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott – Based on the idea of quality over quantity, this book has lessons for life in many different areas and in general. There is a very nice section on wardrobe choices and skin care, but fair warning that some of the ideas espoused are a bit dated by current “American” standards.  And I’m not sure I, personally, could EVER really get behind the 10 item wardrobe idea…

Happy Shopping!
-Melissa M.


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2 responses to “Looking to Look Your Best? We Can Help You with That!

  1. Great post, Melissa! I, too, am “a woman of a certain age,” but for me, I believe less is definitely more. I hate shopping but, when I must, I prefer simple classic styles in limited colors–mostly black and grey. And I no longer wear makeup because I actually think it makes me look older. :)

  2. I’ve come across the Jemma Kidd book before and I find it hugely helpful. Most especially when I want to try out a new look for my makeup.

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