by Amanda Brooks
is exactly what I need. I’ve been having a little style stress lately. Why?
1. I live in Maine and I wear my snow pants, boots, etc. 6 days a week, at least. It’s a little hard to express myself through what I wear when I just have to cover it up with winter layers for warmth.
2. I live in a shack (have I mentioned this before?). A very small shack. I don’t have room to use my entire wardrobe. And again, shack living doesn’t necessarily promote my style. Shack living is cool and all, but it means I have to be more practical in dress than I sometimes feel I want to be. For example, flats don’t work in the muddy driveway or on the path to the outhouse. A silk scarf can sometimes get in the way of stoking the fire or pumping the water. Matchstick jeans are a little tight when I sit on the bed to work, eat, read…
3. I do a LOT of different things during my day. One minute collecting sap, the next crafting, then yoga, then getting wood, then baking something, then starting seeds, then going to dinner. You get the idea. I sometimes NEED to change my clothes, man, probably 5 times in one day. In one day! Clearly, I need some style sanity.
Anyway, Amanda, my new friend, gave me some ideas to overcome this uness stress. Amanda says, “Giving yourself guidelines for getting dressed–dictated by taste, practicality, body type, mood–can simplify your life.” In other words, make yourself some personal style rules. One of mine: I will not waste time looking at/buying/wearing high heels.
I gave these beauties away at the Clothes Swap after buying them at the Eco Min for $1.00. I wore them once (it was a sweet summer outfit–a bright green knee length dress with navy plastic jewelry) and thought I was going to break both ankles. Needless spending, even if it was just a buck, and needless risks will be averted by following that one rule.
Amanda also shares tips that have helped her along her road to Barney’s New York as fashion director which is fine, you are probably thinking, for New York, but what about us Maine girls? Despite probably never living in Maine, Amanda still presents some fashion sense that goes down like Allen’s coffee brandy and milk–easy.
She starts with a short personal style history, just enough to feel like we could have been her gf in 7th grade. She takes us through classic, bohemian, minimal, high fashion, street, and eclectic styles and then breaks shopping into 4 categories, basics, cheap chic, designer, and vintage. Brooks presses her belief that personal style needs to be a comfortable expression of yourself and that a basic wardrobe is the key to achieving this. She gives us the tools to pinpoint exactly what we need to establish our basic wardrobe and come out with our stylish selves. “Figuring out the foundation of your wardrobe is arguably the most important part of knowing your fashion identity, and half the battle is finding the right shape in the right color at the right price.” Rightio I say, but what about 1, 2, and 3 above? Make a pie chart. A what? A pie chart. Break your lifestyle down into percentages, says she, and then shop based on those percentages. Math and style. Usually for me, this relationship comes in the form of a price tag.
She says to figure out what you need for basics by making a list and taking a day to shop for those things and those things only. This would be the jeans, the practical pants, the jean jacket, the tank tops, the dress, leggings, the t-shirts, the socks, the undies, the things that you tend to wear almost every day. From there, delve into your style and spend money according to the pie chart. She explains what to buy cheap and what to spend the long dollar on.
In short, if a Maine girl with little fashion sense and experience can relate to this author and find her lessons useful (there’s even a section on how to pronounce those designer names like DOL-Chay and Gah-BAH-nah), it must be a book worth buying. I expected more snobbery and style that was out of my league, but as I flipped through the pages, I found I could relate, implement, enjoy and alleviate the style stress a muddy spring in Maine can have on a girl. I heart this book.