April 22, 2011

Dress For Success

Courtesy of Vogue.com

"You can do anything you want in life if you dress for it" Edith Head 
I have a confession to make. I cherish vintage fashion guides. Specifically those written in the mid to late 1960s. I have spent hours unearthing these treasures at my favorite secondhand bookstore. What makes these guides unique is their gentle wit, charm and no nonsense approach to dressing elegantly. I'm not nostalgic for a bygone era, but I find that these style guides provide an abundance of timeless advice for building a wardrobe that will work for every occasion. In addition to their focus on style, these guides also speak to manners and etiquette. Manners and etiquette are intricately related to style in my opinion. The vintage fashion guide is unapologetically ladylike, which I find appealing. 
Many of the best vintage fashion guides had limited print runs. The New York Public Library is one of the best resources for looking at these books. The demure illustrations and humorous tone of these guides can provide hours of enjoyment. If you've read A Guide to Elegance or The Deb's Dictionary then you know how tongue-in-cheek and divine these books can be. While my wardrobe is carefully considered, I do have a healthy sense of humor.
Years ago I began collecting vintage fashion tomes. I have a tendency to collect items that allow me the thrill of a good hunt (e.g. my vintage/limited edition Chanel necklace collection). How To Dress For Success has been on my list of books to source for quite some time. Needless to say I was thrilled to discover that How To Dress For Success has been reprinted. I won't be wearing gloves or hats anytime soon, however I strive to cultivate a wardrobe that is appropriate for all occasions. Edith Head dressed some of the most iconic women in Hollywood (Grace Kelly, Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn to name a few) and was ahead of her time in many ways. I can't wait to read Head's sartorial musings on the creation of a succinct wardrobe. You can expect a follow up post once I have read this book. 
I believe in dressing for success. In the morning when I select what I'm going to wear, my thought is always 'what is my most formal event of the day?' It's about being ready for whatever meetings or appointments might present themselves. Thankfully I have created a wardrobe that is versatile and  interchangeable. When something works why invent the wheel? There's something nice about having a style that is uniquely yours. Dresses are my go to for dressing for success. Dresses make life easy- Zip it up, throw on a gorgeous shoe, accessorize with a scarf or necklace and I'm out the door. I plan on doing future posts on elements that pull together an elegant look to me. Looking poised and elegant is something to strive for.
PS- The cover of How to Dress For Success features my signature high bun. How could I not adore this book?


  1. i couldnt agree more! i feel so much more polished and poised in one -as you noted, it's about being prepared for the opportunities that might arise, and with the right collection of dresses, one always looks sharp. what style/s do you generally go for? a more fitted look works better for me, and i always love a good print.

  2. interesting! i've been keen on looking out for vintage style guides as well, but that isn;t easy in a country with virtually no vintage bookstores. reissues are an easy way out! I read Genevieve Dariaux's A Guide To Elegance and while the advice wasn't always relevant to me, I enjoyed her dry humour very much, and I that fashion to her doesn't the sort of consumerist overtones you find in fashion magazines and modern-day style guides.

    Can;t wait to see what you think of the book!

  3. Son- I agree with you completely. A fitted and tailored silhouette works best for me. I prefer a classic and polished look. Anything too lose swallows me up. Timeless is what i strive for.

    My style consists of lots of skirts and dresses, but I love a tailored pair of pants. Simple is best.

    Lin- It's great that these books are being reissued. Many aspects are outdated, but I like that they categorize style as more than fashion and consuming. Some of the most stylish women I can think of consume very little and have signature looks. I also love that during this time period women wore the things they loved endlessly. I can't wait to read this book!

  4. Aww... LK you are so elegant. It's sort of CRAZY for someone so young. I love that you are single handedly bringing back elegance. I love it. Oh and I know I say this all the time, but write the style book... Please!!!

  5. Anonymous- You are too sweet. I really hope there will be a return to elegance. Single handedly bringing elegance back- that's ambitious. I'm humbled.

    The idea of writing a book scares me, but I've heard it before. We'll see;)