Tag Archives: fashion

Style Yourself, Inspirational Advice from the World’s Hottest Fashion Bloggers

13 Jun

Foreword by Jane Aldridge

Since the internet was launched, fashion bloggers have taken the web by storm and created an infectious network. Perfect for supporting those in need of fashion inspiration and daring readers to explore the endless possibilities within their wardrobes, there are tons of style writers all over the world uploading invaluable fashion content every day. Now, 95 of the best bloggers, from the UK to Japan, from the USA to Norway, have joined forces to compile the ultimate guide in personal style.

In a guide that is both logical and whimsical, bloggers give their advice on all wardrobe essentials. The book begins with a guide to which  items specifically should make up your wardrobe, e.g. number of skirts, tops and shoes, and then as it continues each garment is evaluated in meticulous details. Styles and shapes for each piece are explored and suggestions are made as to which variety of each garment is most suited to each individual. Throughout this process, bloggers sprinkle in their in-depth features on how to style a particular part of your wardrobe. Whether you’re after some advice on which colour suits you best, what trousers accentuate your shape or what kind of purse will compliment your earrings, this book is not to be missed. The balance between creating attainable concepts and outlandish collaborations is incredibly refreshing.

For a glimpse at some of the contributors personal blogs, why not visit some of the following websites?

Susie Lau from London, England
Style Bubble

Carolina Engman from Stockholm, Sweden
Fashion Squad

Funeka Ngwevela from Johannesburg, South Africa
Quirky Stylista

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

Style Yourself is published by Apple Press and will inspire you to play with your wardrobe for just £14.99.

If you liked this you may also like Style Diaries by Simone Werle.


Style Book by Elizabeth Walker

12 Jun

Fashionable Inspirations

Have you ever heard the expression “one picture is worth ten thousand words”? This is the sentiment that Elizabeth Walker uses to open her Style Book. When unveiling the truth behind her fashion inspirations, she takes photographs from all eras, locations and social situations to compile a “remarkable insight into the progression of fashion”.

Consisting of over 400 pages of photographs, Walker uses kitsch categories to divide her images into miniature style journeys. With chapters such as ‘Divine in Denim’, ‘Attention to Detail’ and ‘Button Up’, single fashion concepts are expanded upon and visited from film sets to sidewalks. A small caption is provided underneath each photo to provide an opinion, a story and details of the year it was taken.

Although famous faces such as Audrey Hepburn, Joanna Lumley and Twiggy crop up among the photographs, Walker uses lots of faceless fashionistas to “juxtapose” fashion moments from over the years. She is true to her claim that “from flowers to furs, from pearls to pools, there are all things here for all folk”. Despite being a beautiful book to flick through,  my criticism would be that I couldn’t help but yearn for more insight as to why exactly Walker had found these images to be inspirational.

A la Mode Appraisal: 7/10 – a wonderful collection of photographs, but perhaps a lower price tag would have been more suited.

Style Book is published by Endeavour publishers and will inspire your wardrobe for £20.00.

If you liked this, you may also like New Club Kids by Oggy Yordanov.

(Please note: the images used in this review have not been taken directly from the book.)

Vintage Fashion Sourcebook by Emma Baxter-Wright, Karen Clarkson, Sarah Kennedy and Kate Mulvey

12 Jun

New Looks and Labels and Where to Find Them

It is always lovely to have a one-off piece in your wardrobe that stands out a mile and can’t be replaced. You are never going to turn up to a dinner party in the same dress as someone else if it was a hand-me-down from your grandmother, or be embarrassed that someone is wearing the same cuff links as you if you’ve spent an hour on your hands and knees rummaging through the accessories at a charity shop. This sentiment seems to have spread to the minds of the mainstream fashion consumer in the last few years, leading to an enormous rise in popularity of vintage clothing. With so many competitive sellers on hand to offer their designs, and so many frauds willing to charge a fortune for a modern replica, four industry insiders have decided to unveil all about the world of vintage fashion.

In a decade by decade guide to vintage fashions of the twentieth century, the Vintage Fashion Sourcebook allows the reader to absorb trends of a specific period in fashion and to trace exactly where styles originated. This is helpful on numerous levels; not only can the vintage buyer gain a clear indication of how old their garment really is, but they can style an outfit to replicate a specific era should they need to. All sorts of context is given to fashion as the decades are explored, for example the vinyl dresses of Paco Rabanne are compared to the “party atmosphere” of London in the 1960’s and the hip-hop music of the 1980’s attributed to a “passion for bling and sportswear”.

To conclude the vintage timeline, the Vintage Fashion Sourcebook then goes on to offer tips on how to choose a vintage garment wisely, how to care for vintage appropriately, and offers a number of suggestions in regard to the best vintage sellers in England. Most of the boutiques are based in London which is unsurprising but nonetheless annoying for people from other parts of the country, so the ladies have also included a number of online outlets to accommodate for those outside of the capital.

An enjoyable and easy to follow book, this short read would be a lovely gift to a vintage lover who is eager to learn about the origins of their favourite garments.

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10 – great value for money.

Vintage Fashion Sourcebook is published by Carlton Books and is an essential buy for all lovers of vintage at a very reasonable £5.99.

If you liked this, you may also like Vintage Jewellery by Caroline Cox.

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.

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.

Paris Between the Wars by Vincent Bouvet and Gérard Durozoi

11 Jan

Filled with stories of artists, musicians, fashion designers and the city life, Paris Between the Wars uses 489 photographs and illustrations to bring to life a period that the French called “les années folles” – the crazy years. Depicting Parisian life between 1919 and 1939, this book paints a clear picture of scenes and movements that flourished in Paris at a time when the world was in a grim position.

“Packed with evocative illustrations, this book is a vibrant kaleidoscope of the incomparable City of Light at its dazzling peak.”

Mesmerising is a section entitled ‘The World of Fashion’. This time period is referred to as ‘the golden age of haute couture’ by Vincent Bouvet and speaks of the incredible significance of the fashion industry during this time – it is stated that Parisian haute couture represented as much as 15% of France’s export trade during the 1930s. Providing snippets of information about the foundations of designers such as Coco Chanel and Jeanne Lanvin, the roles of women in this society are also celebrated in an exciting and feminist twist.

Not only was the fashion itself spoken of in meticulous detail, from colours that designers preferred to types of models that different houses would employ, the influence of fashion on other Parisian elements is explored beautifully.  A memoir relived is the grand tradition of the ball, allowing for photographs of the likes of Picasso and his wife Olga in their finest attires. References such as this are frequent throughout the book; creative worlds such as art, fashion and music are all entwined and feed into one another as different aspects of Paris are explored. This style of writing accurately mirrors Parisian life of this time; the overlapping of these worlds was an enormous source of inspiration for lots of people in war time Paris.

An informative book, what I loved about it the most was its clear and concise photographs. Illustrations throughout the book were explained and contextualised in great detail; this enables the words to jump to life and allows the reader to truly feel as though they are in a Parisian past world. If you are intrigued by old glamour, fashion designers, artists, musicians, the world wars or indeed the city of Paris itself, I guarantee you will adore this book. An absolute must have.

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

Paris Between the Wars is published by Thames and Hudson and is cheaper than a trip to Paris, costing £28.00.

Wedded Perfection: Two Centuries of Wedding Gowns by Cynthia Amnéus

11 Jan

Since time began, little girls have fantasised about the perfect white wedding. An affair filled with joy and romance, there would be a few requirements in order for the fantasy to become a reality: a handsome groom, a delectable cake, and, by far the most important of them all, an immaculate gown.

Now, with the rise of popularity in reality shows such as Don’t Tell the Bride or Four Weddings, weddings are a hotter topic than ever and girls become fascinated by all of the finer details of their special occasion. Be it Vera Wang, Chanel or custom made, the wedding dress is usually the first detail that friends of the bride are gasping to hear about. For this reason, I was intrigued by Cynthia Amnéus’ book Wedded Perfection. In this critical textbook, Cynthia looks back at wedding gowns over time and explores their relationship to the women and societies that they came from, expressing further ideas about how the entire constitution of marriage has evolved.

Featuring photographs of over fifty gowns from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection of gowns and contextualised by essays from Katherine Jellison and Sarah Long Butler, Wedded Perfection tells the tale of gowns from Christian Dior to Yohji Yamamoto. Discussing concepts such as ‘the Evolution and Aesthetic of the Wedding Gown in Western Culture’, it outlines exactly what the rituals were in previous wedding ceremonies and how and why they influenced the physicality of gowns. I found these explanations particularly useful as an English Literature student for they related not only to the act of a wedding in particular but also spoke volumes about the role of women in society. Those interested in feminism or in comparing roles of both genders throughout time would be fascinated by this book.

 My favourite section detailed the importance of the appearance of marriage and traditional family values throughout the war. “Given concern that wartime conditions imperilled American domesticity, the white wedding gown seemed to preserve the traditions of marriage and family life so that they could survive during the war and flourish after the war” – page 83. This section, like the rest of the book, contemplates taking things at face value in two manners. Firstly, photographs and clear visuals are used to give the reader an aesthetic to focus on. Secondly, the notion of appearance is perceived in symbolic manner and the notion of reputation is considered in relation to marriage. For this reason, the book is fantastic. You have the best of both worlds when reading – the engaging, deeply philosophical pieces, and the divine optical bliss of the photographed gowns themselves.

A thoroughly enjoyable book, I would highly recommend it to all students of creative subjects. It raises timeless issues of gender equality, society and the ever changing roles of women, and does so in a way that still enables all girls to picture themselves lavishly clad in an elaborate vintage frock. Perfection!

A la Mode Appraisal: 9/10

Wedded Perfection: Two Centuries of Wedding Gowns is published by Giles and available for £30.00.