Sunday, November 11, 2012

Non-fiction Review: 'Style Me Vintage: Look Book' by Naomi Thompson, Katie Reynolds and Belinda Hay

Style Me Vintage: The Complete Guide to Creating a Retro Look: Hair, Make-up, Clothes
Pages: 272
Genre: Non-fiction, Style/fashion
Release Date: November, 2012
Publisher: Pavillion
I bought it online.

The three retro-gorgeous tomes in the Style Me Vintage series, covering clothes, hair, and makeup, are brought together in one glam package For anyone who has ever wanted to introduce vintage into their personal style but felt unsure where to start, this resource is filled with tips on how to create the complete and authentic look.

It provides everything fashionistas need to know about all things vintage, so whether one is looking to completely overhaul a look, go for total vintage glam, or just introduce a few key vintage elements into the day-to-day look, this book explains how. Combining step-by-step hair and make-up styling techniques with a guide to sourcing vintage clothing from the 1920s to the 1980s, the book's detailed photographs and expert insight from its three authors provides readers with the knowledge needed to determine an individual style. It also offers tips on how to make retro styles work with modern accessories, making it essential reading for every girl who likes to dress up.

I really liked the idea of this book. While I am a bit of an old-fashioned girl, I wouldn't say I was particularly well versed in fashion. Like many things I tend to get confused which era it actually came from, but I do like it regardless. So, I thought a guide on how to create an authentic look might be exactly what I needed to learn a few things about each era and to master a few techniques like how to get that Audrey Hepburn look with my eye-makeup.

I chose to buy this volume rather than buying each one separately mainly because it works out cheaper. I don't know if the combining of the three books means that they have combined the "best of" the three or, the total complete three volumes, so anything I think is missing might actually be a part of the single volumes. I'm not quite sure on that part, and I'm not sure many people would know.

I really wanted to get this book for the fashion/style aspect. I don't have a lot of hair at the moment (got a pixie cut) and I think I do a good enough job of applying make-up (though I'd rather not try anything involving liquid eye-liner and false lashes without some sort of guide or assistance, so those aspects of the book were really just bonuses. I decided to buy the bind-up rather than just a style book, because you never know what you could learn and when you might be able to help someone else with some ideas for Halloween costumes, or when I might decide to grow my hair...

I thought the "Clothes" aspect of the book was really well set out. There were a few pages of information about the clothes of the era: what happened in the world that impacted the fashion, what sub-cultures emerged, what was in,  a dot-point list of what people were wearing and a picture of a model dresses in those era-specific outfits. I thought this format was nice and simple; easy to follow. It was too-the-point and full of information. I could find out exactly what I needed to know without being bogged down in dense descriptive text about rationing during the war (I've had plenty of experience with this in other books that I've borrowed from the library.

I wish the author had included a few more example outfits from each era, because I thought one night outfit and one day outfit was a bit limited . I think I would have liked to have seen outfits for different types of weather or occasions, or even the sub-cultures included in the information. I just thought it was too much of a generalisation to only show two (some eras were lucky enough to have three) looks per era.

I liked the section about shopping and the links the author suggested for more information and online shopping. I liked that the author included information about how to find out which era the garments you're buying came from and the emphasis she put on buying clothes that fit and have minimal damage (not everything can be fixed). My only dislike was that even though 80's and 50's dresses are quite similar, reader of this book are told to "run for the hills" pretty much because of minor details like the brand on the tag or the zipper being made of different materials. Actually, I'm a bit puzzled as to why any 80's fashion was even included in this book. Don't get me wrong, I love the 80s, but I thought 80's was hardly considered retro or vintage by anyone (at least not yet), and that the writer was particularly harsh on 80s fashions. I quote "It scooped up every major trend and made it bigger, bolder (but, arguably, not better)", which I didn't completely agree with.

One of the things I really liked about this book was the make-up tutorials. They were easy to follow and gave great results. I have now begun using an eyeshadow brush as a "socket brush", but don't intend to swap my trusty lip-stick for a lip-brush and gloss. That just isn't practical. I thought it was cool that they used celebrity looks, rather than era-specific looks to write tutorials for, but didn't love the fact that they used models with similar face-shapes and colouring for those looks. I think I would have liked to see more daytime looks. The only looks I thought were appropriate for that were the 'Marilyn' and 'Audrey' make-up looks.

While I didn't necessarily need to read the hair section of the book I thought it was the only fair way to do a review on it. I thought the hair tutorials were cool, but think it would have been helpful for the book to have a few pages about curling methods, because curls/sets/perms seemed to be very popular in many of the eras. I also thought that while it was cool for the tutorials to feature old-fashion techniques for creating old-fashioned hairstyles I thought it was a little unrealistic. In one tutorial the model is sitting under an old-fashioned salon hair-dryer (used for perms), when I think a hairdryer with a diffuser attachment would have been just fine.

At the beginning of the hair section there is a little note about what sort of hair-cuts work well with those styling techniques. I think it would have been really helpful if there were pictures of models with different vintage style hair-cuts included as examples. Along with descriptions of the cut, so that people know what to tell their hairdresser.

Overall, I think this book is helpful and good value. A great guide for people who want to know the basics of vintage style. I would have liked more detail in some parts of the book and not so much 80s stuff (if the author chooses to write about it in a negative way). I recommend this to people who want a basic guide and nothing more. I gave it 4/5 stars.

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