I picked up A Guide to Elegance from the library on a whim, and then read it in two sittings. The author has worked for some of the top Paris couture houses and helped some of the world’s best-dressed women accessorize their outfits– that’s credibility.
This book is a fun blend of old and new. Originally written in the 60′s, it seems to have been updated for the modern woman… in some parts…I’m not sure if the very occasional old-fashioned opinion comes from an author of advanced age, from a European sensibility, or from the original text. Either way, it’s hard to accept a basic wardrobe that doesn’t include jeans, for example.
Everything else about the book is genius, genius, genius. The focus is elegance. Not style, not sexiness, not fashion-forwardness, just elegance. Reading this book really made me think about what clothing I think looks good and why, what clothing I wear most and why, what clothing I own and why, etc. It also makes you think about how standards of dress have changed over time, due to women’s schedules/expectations and the materials/methods used for modern clothing.
A Guide to Elegance is written by topic, alphabetically. Some of the pieces seemed to be from some far and distant society of which I can’t imagine myself a part, due either to social class or general climate (Some examples: an alligator purse is really only for sport wear, white heels strictly allowed for resort dress, the need for matching one’s gloves and shoes, and changing one’s jewelry and dress according to time of day… with different rules for every 4 hours)
While I may not be able or willing to follow all of the author’s advice, some of it seemed very true and original. I had never thought of draped clothing as being more appropriate for older women, for example. I had never considered what type of swimsuit was most elegant, or what I would wear if I needed to attend a funeral in the fall or winter. Not everyone may want to consider (or value) all of these points, but it was helpful to me as I try to simplify and design my own wardrobe. Either way, it is a very fun read with a lot of information– and it’s sure to get you thinking about your style!