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True Whit by Whitney Port

23 Sep

Deisnging a life of Style, Beauty and Fun with Sheryl Berk


Welcome to the world of Whitney Port. She was part of two of MTV’s most successful reality TV shows, The Hills and The City, and has since become a style icon through launching her very own fashion line Whitney Eve. In her first book, Whitney aims to use her life experience to enlighten young ladies who are starting to find their feet in the real world. “What I wanted to create was a guidebook, so to speak, to starting out in your twenties. It’s your time to shine, to dig deep and discover who you are.”


So a la mode?


Whitney goes down to every little detail when offering advice on how to get your life in order. Using specific family recipes and detailing things such as what her personal fitness regime consists of make it lots easier for us to dabble in her routine and see how it works. She also gives tips on how we can channel her eclectic style, from encouraging shopping in charity shops to identifying specific hair types and using that information to explain how each hair type can be styled to emulate her own locks. Every base is covered, from how to deal with a difficult co-worker to how to impress on a first date.


Uh-oh a la mode?


One thing that did disappoint me as an avid fan of The Hills and The City was that lots of her personal experiences draw from things we’ve already seen on the show. I was hoping that in purchasing the book I’d hear a different side of the story than what I’d already watched, but advice seemed based on things we already knew – e.g. relationship advice based on her relationship with Jay or work advice based on her time with Olivia. Maybe next time if Whitney could give us a little spoiler of all the things we had missed then the read would be a little juicier!


All in all a brilliant guide for a young girl – I’d especially recommend it to anyone who has just moved away from home, for example a University student or a new graduate.


A la Mode Appraisal: 8/10 – more secrets next time please, Whitney!


True Whit is published by Aurum Press and will help every young lady in her search for herself at a very reasonable £14.99.


If you liked this book, you may also like Style by Lauren Conrad.


The Fashion File by Janie Bryant

14 Mar

with Monica Corcoran Harel
Advice, Tips and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men

Winner of multiple Emmys and Golden Globes, the US television series Mad Men has recieved endless acclaim for its striking visuals and fabulous representation of 1960s America. In order to create the sense of such a time period, one enormous element of design comes into play during every single episode… costume. In The Fashion File, Janie Bryant, the show’s costume designer, shares all of her creative secrets and enlightens the reader as to how the styling for the show really unfolds.

The book contains a foreword by Mad Men star January Jones, an introduction, and eight chapters that take the reader on an elaborate journey of styling. Despite drawing heavy reference to all of the Mad Men characters to illustrate her points and to juxtapose different styles, Janie provides styling advice that anyone can adapt for their own personal use. For example, in a small section entitled ‘Colour Me Chic’, Janie advises you to “hold a few different coloured pieces up to your face and see if the palette brings out your eyes or warms your complexion”. The end of each chapter comes hilariously with some trivial fashion ‘Cocktail Chatter’ and a checklist for the reader to tick off before continuing on their style mission.

As well as offering her own recommendations about styling, Janie constantly reminds the reader that she is someone who looks to other people for inspiration. I was fascinated to read that Janie compiles inspiration boards (boards on which you attach cuttings and pictures to help you reach an end goal – in this case, styling) and encourages other fashionistas to do the same in order to “capture the mood of how you want to look”. She also features an entire section of her icons and inspirations, featuring the likes of Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor. With these facts in mind, there is a constant undertone that each woman is capable of compiling her own individual style and that – although these tips may be useful – the reader ultimately has the power and creativity to style themselves perfectly. This, for me, is what sets The Fashion File apart from other books of its kind; it exhilarated me to want to concoct my own fashion recipes.

With so many fabulous elements, from descriptions of typical fashions in different eras to rules on how to dress for your personal silhouette, The Fashion File would be an asset to the bookshelf of any fashionista and is a compulsory buy for a Mad Men fan.

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

The Fashion File is published by Apple Press and will provide you with the priceless advice of Janie Bryant for just £16.99.

If you liked this, you may also like Paris Between the Wars by Vincent Bouvet and Gérard Durozoi.

Like I Give a Frock by Michi Girl

9 Feb

Following the fun I had reading Michi Girl’s Michipedia of Fashion, I decided to take a step backwards and indulge in her first book, Like I Give a Frock. With the tagline detailing ‘fashion forecasts and meaningless misguidance’, I began to read in the hope of finding more quirky anecdotes from my new favourite fictional character. The creation of Chloe Quigley and Daniel Pollock, Michi Girl is a fashionista weather girl who loves to give sarcastic opinions on the world of fashion with sprinkled references to the elements poking through along the way.

This light read is divided into four sections in accordance with the seasons and offers whimsical fashion advice to suit each time of year. In her usual arty manner, Michi Girl expresses her views on all sorts of fashion topics with illustrations and collages that please the eye endlessly. Using paints, pencils, textures and whatever else she can lay her hands on, Michi Girl likes to show the reader exactly what she means. Having painted a beautiful paisley print on a pair of skousers (skirt and trousers) in the Autumn chapter, she suggests the following: “sarcasm is the lowest form of wit and the most effective. Skousers are the lowest form of garment and the least attractive”. Later she goes on to illustrate the locks of a beautiful lady and inscribes in the colour of her hair, “no one looks good in mustard. Unless of course you’re a hot dog”. A little bit erratic, these snippets of information are highly amusing but seem to lack the structure of her later Michipedia of Fashion. I would recommend it as a gift as opposed to an investment, and can say whole heartedly that it will bring joy to the eyes of art lovers.

A la Mode Appraisal: 7/10

Like I Give a Frock is published by Apple Press and is available for £12.99.

If you like this, you might also like What on Earth Are You Wearing? A Michipedia of Fashion by Michi Girl.

What On Earth Are You Wearing? A Michipedia of Fashion by Michi Girl

16 Jan

“If you haven’t heard of Michi Girl, don’t worry, she hasn’t heard of you either.”

Welcome to the world of Michi Girl, a fictional weather girl created by Chloe Quigley and Daniel Pollock and “brought to life” by the illustrations of Kat Macleod. In a follow up to her first book, Like I Give A Frock, Michi Girl has released a Michipedia of Fashion that alphabetises common industry terms and gives playful explanations for them.

Before I began reading the book I was completely taken by its beautiful artwork. Both Michi Girl and the pages that she graces have been sketched and painted in many lovely configurations that have been accentuated further with different fabrics, prints and textures.  Once I had absorbed the prettiness of the book I embarked upon indulging in what I thought would be an idiots guide to fashion and, oh, how wrong I was! Michi Girl’s Michipedia is in fact a satirical guide to fashion for its knowing insiders. She combines quirky explanations for simple fashion terms and a few well crafted in jokes to amuse and inform her reader. Some examples:

Chicken Fillets: the breast friends of an A-cup.

Chanel: Old money.

Lycra: No.

Wig: In the words of a two-year-old I know, ‘a hair hat’.

In addition to acting as a fashion informant, Michi Girl also acts as a tongue-in-cheek agony aunt in little question and answer segments that punctuate the Michipedia. When she receives a letter from someone who was upset to have purchased a fake Chanel handbag her response began like this:

“Born in the early 70s to humble factory workers Louis Veeton and Donna Kebab, Cocoa Channel quickly made a name for herself in the fast fashion industry sewing upside-down crocodiles on polo shirts at her uncle’s Lacrock factory.”

Whether you’re a sucker for sweet, artsy creations or someone who knows their Dior from their Dolce and is looking for a giggle, this Michipedia is the perfect way to celebrate fashion whilst poking some fun at it at the same time. I guarantee you’ll end up being transfixed by the Michi Girl website too!

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

What On Earth Are You Wearing? Is published by Apple Press and will brighten up your bookshelf (and your mood) for £12.99.

If you liked this you may also like Bethanie Lunn’s The Modern Girls Guide to Fabulousness.

Fashion Drawing in Vogue by William Packer

11 Jan

Unveiling the intricate art work behind the gowns and garments that have tantalised readers of Vogue magazine worldwide for years, Fashion Drawing in Vogue gives fashion enthusiasts a rare glimpse into the artistic craftsmanship behind some of the most elegant designs of the century. Focusing predominantly on Vogue from 1909, the year in which it was taken over by Condé Nast, William Packer explores the sketches behind the clothing and how other art movements managed to influence fashion respectively. Packer presents highlights of sketches from seven decades (1920s-80s) of Vogue.

My favourite chapter was one entitled ‘1935 – 1946: Romantic Expressionism and applied Surrealism, Vogue’s eye on society in peace and war’. It begins by giving context to what was happening in the world at this time, speaking of the Great Depression in America and mass unemployment in England for instance. It is stated that “there is a war on, but London life somehow continues, perhaps even more sociable and high-spirited than ever”. Endless sketches of beautiful women give a visual to the usual standards of classic beauty; high cheek bones, small pouted lips and fluttering eye lashes are in abundance. Links between the war and fashion are also established; for example, were you aware that Michael de Brunhoff, editor of French Vogue during the second world war, closed down the publication in the summer of 1940 and did not resume it until the Liberation? I often feel that the fashion industry is overlooked as something superficial and intimidating. Books like this prove fabulously that fashion is merely an extension of society and situations and in appreciating it you can perhaps gain a further understanding of the world around you. (Failing that, you can feel fabulous and brighten it up a little bit!)

The presentation of this book is as sophisticated and chic as Vogue itself. Broken into sections of pink, white and glossy pages, it is easy to decipher different sections and quickly skim to the silky photographs that accompany them. Although we are often told not to judge a book by its cover, it seems unfair not to note that the appearance of this one is delicate and pretty, much like the sketches inside it.

Perfect for art history students, this collection of coveted names (the likes of Edouard Benito, Paul Iribe and Douglas Pollard among them) and ravishing designers amounts to a collection that is as exquisite as it is informative. A classy and indulgent book perfect for all fashion and art lovers.

A la Mode Appraisal: 9/10

Fashion Drawing in Vogue is published by Thames & Hudson and will enlighten you about the process from pencil to Prada for £19.95.

The Modern Girl’s Guide to Fabulousness by Bethanie Lunn

11 Jan

Bethanie Lunn is a power woman that every girl would love to be like. She’s a one woman enterprise and merrily juggles a number of fabulous fashionable responsibilities including the following: a widely read blog called The Modern Girl’s Guide, acting as fashion and beauty expert for Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, being a style expert and online presenter for Very online, and contributing columns to to name just a few. Now, the beauty has wracked her brains to compile an alternative A-Z for the modern girl, giving her the “fast track to the coolest places, services and products around” (quote taken from Bethanie’s blog).

The Guide begins with an introduction that outlines the aim of the book- to pin point the most fabulous things all over the country and enlighten women accordingly. Upon reading this, it has to be said that I felt sceptical. I have read lots of similar books in the past (no names mentioned) that claim to be excited to share highlights of the best regional attractions and then go on to gush incessantly about one city in particular; you’ve guessed it- London. Yes, a mesmerising city it may be, but when I’m in Liverpool and desperately need a manicure I’m hardly going to invest all of that time, money and effort and go all the way to the south for a decent set of nails. (Indeed, I would probably just pop to the nearest Barry M counter instead, but for the sake of this argument that is beside the point). What was refreshing and very engaging, therefore, was Bethanie’s very true representation of the entire country. Surrounded by angry, soaking wet passengers on the train, I couldn’t help but gasp for joy every time I read a reference to somewhere I had been to, knew of and already loved. Knowing that I completely agreed with Bethanie in the recommendations with which I was already acquainted lead me to believe that, if I were to visit another city, I could completely trust her judgement and take all other suggestions by storm and with confidence.

Favourite Birmingham hotspot:
Club Chocolate, home to amazing cocktails.
Club Chocolate on Facebook

Favourite Liverpool hotspot:
Raider’s Vintage, a small boutique that has been known to grace the pages of UK Vogue.
Raiders Vintage on Facebook

Nationwide must have:
Batiste dry shampoo (or for any fellow students that may be reading, a nice hearty dose of talcum powder!)

Number one website:
A personal favourite of mine, Elsiebelle jewellery- the most quirky and cute retailer of them all.

The magic of this girlie guide is that every type of woman needs to have it in her life; the housewife who loves nothing more than to present an exquisite meal for her friends and family and to lay an extravagent dining set, the tearaway who loves to push her limits and wants to fill her Saturday with a spot of risque burlesque, or even the PR executive who loves her fluffy canine friend to death but simply doesn’t have enough time to walk him. Bethanie manages to overcome all of life’s dilemmas and to do so in a way that girls all over can manage in our current economic crisis but still feel fabulous! A thoroughly enjoyable read, and a must have for any students who are planning a girlie getaway to visit one of their friends in another city.

To visit Bethanie on her book tour, why not pop along to her Liverpool signing on Wednesday 1st December at LK Bennett in Liverpool One? All you have to do to book your place is call the LK Bennett hotline on 02076376729. If this date is inconvenient then please click here to check her other confirmed appearances. I am very excited to tell you that I will be interviewing her on the day, so be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you don’t miss any of her anecdotes!

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

Publisher: Book Guild Limited
Price: £9.99

Why Girls Love Shoes by Georgina Harris

11 Jan

If you’re looking for the perfect stocking filler for a fellow fashionista then look no further than Why Girls Love Shoes. A small and simple treat, this book is one that is filled with illustrations of all manner of fabulous shoes and captures the no-frills jist of why girls turn to foot candy in times of need.

Upon turning over the front cover, you are greeted with a little to/from gift tag, further supporting the idea that this novelty is intended as a small present. Divided into pensive chapters, shoes are defined by status as opposed to physicality and thus the philosophy behind them is pondered humorously. For example, on the page dedicated to ‘Extra High Heels’, the author asks:

“Are these a pair of shoes or an attitude?”

The idea of shoes contributing to your character was quite amusing to me; I think we can all relate to feeling like Britney Spears in those sky scraper heels and someone from the Rovers Return in our work pumps. However, I must say that I was a little bit disappointed at how vague the book was. Sam Wilson, an illustrator that has previously been commissioned to create for the likes of Tatler and Elle Girl and who illustrates Mimi Spencer’s Fashion for Life column in You magazine every week (a supplement of the Mail on Sunday) provided the illustrations which were very cute. Georgina Harris, famed for having written for The Times and The Daily Telegraph, added her fashion expertise. But together they formed only a tiny tribute to a topic that seemed so exciting to them both. Although inclusive of some lovely snippets of information, such as the title quote above, I think that this book would be best enjoyed as a sweet addition to a large stocking of other bits and pieces.

Ideal for your little sister or for any lady who truly loves her shoes.

Perhaps you could team it with a cute little Victorian Fan Bookmark from Past Times to jazz it up a little? Available in a number of other designs and for only £6, it will surely brighten up your special person’s stocking.

A la Mode Appraisal: 5/10

Why Girls Love Shoes is available from Cico Books and is all yours for £6.99.

Vintage Jewellery by Caroline Cox

11 Jan

Following the success of books such as Vintage Shoes, Lingerie: a Lexicon of Style and Stiletto, Caroline Cox has returned with Vintage Jewellery, a book that explores jewellery from times gone by and how it has related to beauty and culture accordingly.

Caroline is a visiting professor at the London College of Fashion and also works as a cultural trends advisor at Vidal Sassoon. She uses her fashion expertise in Vintage Jewellery to give context and life to the wonderful photographs and illustrations in the book.

Discussing over 100 years of history, this book divides periods of time into decades and explores each 10 year period in terms of how jewellery looked and was celebrated. Here are a few of the highlights:

1940s: F for Fake
Featuring ‘Cocktail Hour’, a piece that divulges all about the all American fashions that prevailed in jewellery, saying of pieces that the general rule was “the more exuberant, the better”.

1950s: Mid-Century Sparkle
Featuring ‘French Figurative Jewellery’, spilling all of the secrets about how coveted French accessories were and those that looked even remotely French; Eiffel Tower pieces abounded by all accounts.

1960s: POP Goes the Future
Featuring ‘Hippie-Chic’, a section that talks about the significance of the Vietnam War and how jewellery was often used as a statement to represent free love.

More than just a photo album or collection of eye candy, this is a book that reminds you not to judge things at face value. Although celebrating the aesthetic qualities of jewellery (and including photographs of the likes of Twiggy and Cher to flaunt them with flair) it gives historical context as to how and why design has evolved in such ways. As well as providing elaborate and varied information about each period, chapters also conclude with a ‘Key looks of the decade’ page to summarise in a few simple words what each jewellery revolution entailed.

All in all, this book would be wonderful for ladies of all ages. From jewellery lovers to design admirers; older ladies wanting to reminisce about the 20s or young souls hoping to explore times gone by; this exquisite accessory timeline would be a luxurious and enjoyable addition to any girl’s bookshelf.

A la Mode Appraisal: 9/10

Vintage Jewellery is published by Carlton Books and can provide you with endless accessory inspiration for £25.00.

The Best Friends’ Guide to Life by Fearne and Holly

11 Jan

You can imagine my delight when two of my favourite career girls teamed up to create a tell-all book. Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby are both huge inspirations to me because their jobs are so varied.

A day in the life of Fearne:

  • Present her Radio 1 show
  • Indulge in her personal cosmetics range
  • Design clothes for Liverpool’s own
  • Host TV shows such as ‘Fearne and…’
  • Climb the tallest mountains in the world for charity!

A day in the life of Holly:

  • Have a laugh next to Philip Schofield whilst presenting This Morning
  • Join him again in another studio for Dancing on Ice
  • Design clothes for Very alongside Fearne
  • Take time out to compile this book
  • Still find time to be a wife and mom!

See what I mean? That’s what I love about their careers. They don’t have to oblige to one thing or another; instead, they manage to juggle everything that they enjoy and do so marvellously. I was so excited to hear their secrets and receive coveted words of advice as to how I may pursue the same lifestyle.

Divided into sections of things that will come up in any girl’s life, from friends ‘Partners in Crime’ to work ‘Nine to Five’, their book aims to enlighten young women in terms of how to have your cake and eat it too (incidentally, the girls use a clever cake analogy throughout the book to speak simply about balance and proportions of things in your life). Offering handy tips about common things such as what not to expose on your Facebook page to how many glasses of wine it is acceptable to consume on a first date, they use stories from their own pasts to illustrate their examples in a way that is hilarious and relatable. Lots of photographs from their younger years have been thrown in to tell the tales, and Fearne herself has provided some exquisite art work to brighten up the pages. Although you should never judge a book by its cover, it must be said that the presentation of the book is divine… think of a mix between your favourite vintage scarf and the graphics of an art students’ blog splashed eclectically onto every single page.

Spoken from two perspectives, the book is especially useful to anyone who may be confused about a particular issue or problem. Fearne and Holly both have very strong minds and sometimes very opposing opinions, so contrasting the two girls’ thoughts in relation to any given topic is useful in helping the reader to see both sides of a situation. This, I feel, is what distinguishes this book from others of its kind; the ability to feel as though you are part of a group dynamic as opposed to taking the words of one author as gospel.

I would definitely recommend that you buy yourself and your best friend a copy of this book – in fact, they’d make great hers and hers presents for Christmas. A really fun read with lots of handy hints, this book should be an essential to any young woman’s collection.

While you’re shopping along these lines, you might want to check out Fearne’s new make-up range, too!

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

Fearne and Holly: The Best Friends’ Guide to Life is published by Vermillion and available for £16.99.

Sugar and Spice by Lauren Conrad

11 Jan

Following the success of L.A. Candy and Sweet Little Lies, Lauren Conrad has returned with the final instalment of Hollywood juice in Sugar and Spice. The star of The Hills has created a stir with these novels; they seem painfully reminiscent of the tales that unfolded in her reality TV series but add extra dimensions and scandal to the stories we thought we knew so well.

Sugar and Spice continues to tell the tale of a group of girls that have found fame on a new reality TV show in L.A. The leading lady, Jane Roberts, appears to have been based on Lauren Conrad. Other characters, Scarlett, Gaby and Madison, could have been based upon lots of other starlets from the MTV reality show and so part of the fun of this novel is in attempting to work out which fictional storyline relates to which real life lady. The story resumes from the point at which Jane has discovered that the backstabbing Madison set up a tabloid scandal that almost ruined her career and explores the hardship that surrounds these bickering girls being contracted to work together still. With gossip, drama and an inability to decipher the true friends from the tinsel town snakes, Sugar and Spice is the perfect girlie indulgence and is easy to dip in and out of.

At a time when people are obsessed with celebrity culture and fascinated by the private lives of the rich and famous, Lauren’s novel is perfect. Not only is she able to hint at secrets from behind the scenes of her immensely popular reality show but she is also able to deny all knowledge of revealing such mysteries for she has concealed them in the words of a fictional book. This is an incredibly clever move for a girl who is notoriously diplomatic and careful of her words on The Hills. If you like the style of this almost confessional anecdote then I’m sure you’d like Nicole Richie’s almost autobiography The Truth about Diamonds.

Kindly observe the following checklist. Are you:

  • Female
  • Prone to gossiping
  • Addicted to The Hills
  • Intrigued by our dog-eat-dog world
  • Partial to fashion and beauty
  • Generally one for reading something light for a few minutes before bed?

If any of these apply to you then Sugar and Spice is for you.

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

Conrad’s final L.A.Candy novel is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books and is yours with love from Lauren for £12.99.  You might also like Lauren Conrad’s Stylefollow the link to see my review.