I buy books. And sometimes I read them. This blog is for the times when I do more than just store shelf candy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

STYLE by Kate Spade

For the holy week, I had planned to read something that was not required reading. Nothing that was remotely related to my line of work. Nothing that everybody else was reading that I had to read so as not to feel out of place in dinner conversations. Nothing life-changing, mind-boggling, or gut-wrenching. In other words, I was in serious need of fluff.

And fluff was had.

Simon & Schuster’s Style, by designer cum author kate spade, is the perfect no-brainer book to decompress after one of the most stressful months of my 40-year life. No IQ cells were disturbed in the delightful process of reading. No brows knit. No thoughts provoked. No worldviews challenged. No words looked up at dictionary.com. And there were pretty pictures too!

Reading all 109 pages of this book felt like those ditzy gab-fests with girlfriends talking about feminine products, childhood crushes, and favorite Oprah episodes.

Kate writes about her style influences – Diana Vreeland, Bjork; Jane Austen, Dr. Seuss; Picasso, Andy Warhol; movies like Annie Hall, The Royal Tenenbaums. She doesn’t really try to teach anyone about style, since she (and husband Andy; and language masters Strunk and White) thinks that style is achieved by affecting none. So, instead, she just shares her own style – what she packs for a trip to Mexico or Kansas; her favorite colors, and with what she pairs them with; what she wears to work, to play, to a party, in winter, spring; her favorite accessories. The last chapter shares practical tips for organizing closets and caring for clothes and jewelry.

People don’t normally believe it when I say I’m not into brands. Yet it’s true. I’m no fashion victim, wanting to have the latest must-have brands. I’m not going to spend one month’s salary (or my husband’s salary) for a monogrammed Louis Vuitton. Jimmy Choos won’t exactly make me squeal with delight if the fit is bad on my farmer-proportioned feet and the styling does not make me feel, “me.” I’ll be equally happy with a tiangge-find no-brand plastic tote as with a Coach original. Okay, that’s not true. But what I’m trying to say is the brand is not the main thing. Brands, to me, are merely clues to good buys. They just make shopping a bit easier as they lead me to stores where I can find certain types of items at the required level of quality.

I’m no brand junkie, yet, I have this healthy obsession with Kate Spade. She is, to a degree, my style icon. I like what she represents – a lifestyle of enjoying what is beautiful, expressive, distinct, stylish.

Kate’s style is far from mine. She does not wear t-shirts; I live in them. She can wear yellow; the only time I wore yellow was to our high school reunion and only because that was the theme. Kate’s favorite fonts are baskerville and futura; mine is trebuchet. She likes full skirts; I have child-bearing hips that forever preclude such items from my wardrobe. But this book inspires me to define my own style. Not by plagiarizing other people’s style, but by opening myself to the world around me – to books, movies, art, travel, people that move me.

After reading this book, I conclude that sometimes, fluff is good for the soul.

P.S. Thanks, Sana, for giving me this book.

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