As a lover of both literature and lipstick, for me, anything that combines the two is a happy occurrence. There is no shortage of beauty bloggers and fashion pages to be found online today and fashion journalism in the form of Vogue, Stellar, Xposé and the likes are our immediate fixes for all things fashion and beauty related. Sometimes it is nice to sit down with a good book and what better than when the book has tips, tricks and recommendations for how to stay stylish in a world that is always changing, especially the fashion world, which is hard enough to keep up with. As with everything else, there are constants in fashion which I think some books set out very nicely. Here are three book recommendations for fashion/beauty lovers to explore.
How To Be Parisian – Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas
Written by four ordinary women from Paris, ‘How to be Parisian’ is a light-hearted, ironic and sarcastic portrayal of the ‘endearing, melancholy woman’ that is essentially a feel-good read, not to be taken too seriously.
It covers, fashion, beauty, secrets and flaws, dinner-party tips and advice about love among other topics, and it does so in an honest way. The authors are not afraid to subtly mock the character they are portraying, which makes it a refreshing take on the personality traits of women which I think many would find quite relatable.
The Parisian woman is described as someone who ‘doesn’t have much resolve, and deep down, she really doesn’t give a damn’ and as someone who ‘drinks vodka in the evening and green tea in the morning’.
Books, from every genre, are a way to escape from the tight restraints of reality, and this one is no different. In a world with increased pressure to be your best self, to look and feel good all the time, it is heartening to relate to characters that have secrets and flaws and painstaking expectations just like you do and sometimes even laugh out loud at how ridiculous it all sounds, particularly at a section dedicated to how the Parisian woman answers the phone, knowing she can’t come across too eager.
It also has useful fashion advice like essential items to have in your wardrobe, stressing that you don’t have to spend a fortune to look good and one signature piece that looks great on you is a key piece that will never go out of style.
Full of reassurances, my favourite being ‘you’re not a slave to the cult of the perfect body- so learn to make the best of what nature gave you’, How to be Parisian is quirky and funny but also a helpful and calming guide to being a woman today. Hopefully, what you will take from it is the knowledge that it is okay to give yourself a break sometimes and not take yourself so seriously.
It – Alex Chung
Model-turned-TV presenter and fashion journalist working as a contributing editor for British Vogue, Alexa Chung wrote It. A book that is not complex or plot-based, but is kind of like an autobiography/style guide – I think this is the best way to describe it. You can read this book in a half an hour and admire the stunning photography inside.
Essentially, this is a pool-side read or a coffee-table book as it is not overly complicated or conclusive, but if you are a fan of Alexa or a fan of fashionable, original people who influence style, this book is an enjoyable collection of photographs, anecdotes, and inspirations.
If nothing else, this book will help you get to thinking about your own personal style and how you might define it. Alexa talks about her love of dinosaur T-shirts and Peter Pan collars alike, so by her standards you don’t have to sport one specific style.
Alexa gives tips on getting dressed, her favourite make-up looks and life advice, from heartbreak to heels, saying “practicality is high on my list and limping home to find plasters when I could be out dancing all night sounds like a shitty way to end an evening”.
What this book can offer you is recommendations of people you can look towards for style inspiration, and also music and book recommendations surprisingly as well as some honest story-telling from a woman who has lived through becoming a model at sixteen and turning herself into a career woman and what she has learned along the way.
Pretty Honest – Sali Hughes
Sali Hughes is a journalist who has a background in makeup and beauty and writes a beauty column for the Guardian. This book is her advice and wisdom from 20 years experience in the industry.
For most people who love make-up and skincare, reading product reviews, recommendations and how things work will never get boring, and you can never take ‘too good’ care of your skin. This book is great as it is filled with product reviews and tips about sustaining beauty routines, as well as giving practical beauty advice for all kinds of women, including women who have just given birth or undergone chemotherapy.
Her advice is aimed at women of all ages and skin types and includes drug-store make-up product recommendations for those who can’t afford their whole make-up bag to be made up of high-end brands.
The book is written from the perspective that beauty and wanting to feel beautiful through the use of make-up is completely natural and doesn’t make you any less of a feminist because you believe in enhancing your confidence through make-up. Sali encourages the idea that anything that makes you feel better about yourself is a good thing, including makeup; so you don’t have to be a makeup artist or know everything about it to enjoy the benefits.
Often funny and relatable, ‘Pretty Honest’ makes for an enjoyable and informative read and is a book that you will be able to refer back to and make use of instead of it wasting away on the shelf after you’ve finished reading.
By Fiona Cooney