Dress up
December 4, 2012 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Book about style/clothing for a woman in her mid 20s wanting to look her age and put together a new wardrobe

I want to buy this book for my sister-in-law. Let me say this is something she would be interested in; she's mentioned several times that she wants to change her wardrobe and has asked for my help/advice recently.

She's 26 years old, in grad school, and wants to start dressing more professionally. She's also starting to date after a long period of being single (and, before a recent date, even my husband, her brother--who normally doesn't have much of an opinion on clothing--was like "You are seriously not going to wear those jeans on a date, are you?").

She still owns a lot of clothing that she wore in high school, and the way she dresses tends to make her look a little younger. I think she has a couple of really nice pieces, but she has no idea how to wear them and put them with other items. In case it matters, she's fairly thin (size 6 or 8).

I'm looking for a book that addresses topics like creating your own style, and helps with generalities like "these styles of top look good with a pencil skirt; these styles of top look good with an a-line skirt."

I DON'T WANT prescriptive guides like "If you have big hips, you should wear this and this" or "All women need to own these ten items." Nor do I want a book that focuses on trends, brand names, or make-overs, or has a snarky tone. I'd rather have something that addresses general techniques and style. I'm okay with a book that addresses body issues or self-esteem as an element, but don't really want it to be the focus.

If the book had even passing mention of thrift store shopping, that would be cool, too.

Any suggestions?
posted by Ideal Impulse to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I like this one. It was just published this fall, so it incorporates elements of contemporary fashion. It's real strength, though, is that it helps you develop a more sophisticated eye for creating outfits. It does touch on second-hand shopping as well as how to repurpose pieces you already own.

Good luck!
posted by yogurtisgenocide at 12:05 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Lucky Shopping Manual is what I used when I graduated from college and did a wardrobe revamp. It is broken up into sections (blouses, skirts, pants, jeans, etc) and explains a bit about each type of clothing, and how to buy them. It does have "if you have ___ ___, wear this," pages, but they are only a small part of each section and help teach you how clothing should fit when you buy it (which is helpful for us shorter girls).
posted by teslacoilswoah at 12:19 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sally McGraw's Already Pretty is intended for exactly this purpose. Based on awesome blog of the same name.
posted by rdc at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2012

Assuming she dresses in a "conventional" (read women are supposed to dress this way, men are supposed to dress this way) style, The Glamour Book of Do's and Don't's is all right. Even if she doesn't, it will probably still give her some pointers on what types of shapes, colors, and styles are flattering.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 1:56 PM on December 4, 2012

Not a book, sadly, but I bet she'd love the now-defunct academichic blog. It was written by several feminist humanities scholars, who all dressed well but in slightly different ways, and they covered more theoretical aspects of clothing as well as practical tips. It was so, so great.

Maybe you could get her one of the books listed here and mention it in the card (or the inscription in the book, if that's how you roll) as another place to look?
posted by dizziest at 2:33 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I really liked The Pocket Stylist. There is some of that wear this to flatter that body type etc. and the book is divided based on body type, but there is also a lot of great general-purpose advice as well. Nothing is presented in a body-shaming way. Personally I found it useful for separating out the essentials that I could go ahead and spend money on and the things that were extras or trends that could be bought as cheaply as possible.

Another online resource that she might find useful is the blog youlookfab.
posted by peacheater at 2:55 PM on December 4, 2012

Seconding the Lucky book.

IMO Already Pretty is coming from a good place but I find many of her blog outfits a bit frumpy for someone who is 26 and I often think they don't fit her well.
posted by oneear at 4:43 PM on December 4, 2012

I agree on the Lucky guide to style and Lucky shopping manual books for covering a lot of those topics - how to put outfits together, how to dress for work - in an easy to follow way. I would start there. Sort of appropriate, professional, tasteful American style.

I dig Ines de la Fressange's Parisian Chic which is so enjoyable to read and gives excellent advice on clothing/beauty basics, caveat being that the shopping recommendations list many stores found only in France. Though some things could be found in New York or sites like Net-A-Porter. Most of the labels mentioned are rather pricey, but you could just look for similar styles at a lower price, of course. If the title appeals to you it's a wonderful guide.

Dated but lots of fun and can be found used: Thrift Score.
posted by citron at 4:44 PM on December 4, 2012

One more - Corporette. They tend to err on the conservative side in my view and the comments can be a little harsh as far as policing what is and is not appropriate, but the site is a pretty good gauge of suitably professional clothing, shoes and accessories for women in the workplace.
posted by citron at 4:52 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like Corporette a lot.

Already Pretty's style is inappropriate for a lot of workplaces. If your sister in law is in grad school for social work or education or women's studies, then it might be a good match; if she's in business school or engineering school, probably not so much.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:24 PM on December 4, 2012

You Look Fab is another good website for this. Check out the section on the right titled "From the Style Archives" (scroll down) The target age group skews a bit older - I think around 30s and up - but there is good basic information about shapes, fit, and developing personal style.
posted by kitkatcathy at 5:52 AM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also swear by You Look Fab.
posted by Hawk V at 1:16 AM on December 13, 2012

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