Speaking of bloggers who we started following way back in the day, Jessica from What I Wore was one of those for me. She was incredibly helpful and supportive when I first started blogging. I remember her leaving me really kind comments on Weardrobe and adding me to her blog roll when I was brand new (even though my pictures were even worse than they are now!).
Because of all this, I rejoiced with her when she got her book deal and was delighted when Random House mailed me one copy to review and one copy to give away to an Adored Austin reader:
You don't have to do anything crazy to win. Just enter the form below and I'll draw a winner at random Wednesday morning. Please check out Jessica's What I Wore book site when you get a chance and be sure to order your copy, which is coming out this Tuesday, July 5th:
My review after the jump...
I consider Jessica to be somewhat of an internet friend of mine, so when Random House first asked to send me her book to review, I almost passed. How can one give an unbiased review of a book when the author is someone who has been a friend and mentor of sorts?
I was harkened back to my college days when I was the grader in an upper division creative writing/ screenplay class. I both hated and loved grading my friends' work. I hated it for two main reason: 1- What if my friend thought I was being too harsh or unfair and 2- who am I to critique something that someone has worked so hard on, especially when that someone is a person that I genuinely like? However, I loved being able to read my friends' work because sometimes it was through their writing assignments that I was able to really understand how loving and complex some of them were.
That's a little how I feel about being asked to review Jessica's book. So while I feel wholly unqualified to critique it (after all, I am a non-expert dresser, bad photographer, and never published author), I was pleased to learn a little more about her background and to see how her brain works in terms of shopping, putting together outfits, and organizing her wardrobe.
I really only have a couple points of contention and I'll start with those:
The photos aren't the greatest. The illustrations inside are really quite charming and thankfully that's the majority of the book. A seasonal photo of Jessica appears between each chapter, and in my copy they seem a little blurry or pixilated and grainy (there's also one random blank page which makes me wonder if I got a proof, not the final copy). Also, the cover photo is a little strange. Right? It's an outfit that I've never seen Jessica wear on her blog and could not imagine on anyone on the street. Don't get me wrong: I dig the skirt and the Jessica-esque shape of the outfit, but the cover does not at all do this beautiful woman justice. I think they were trying to put her in pieces that were timeless and seasonless, but the result is something that does not showcase what Jessica does best: finding (or making) cute vintage inspired dresses and pairing them with new accessories to make it fresh and modern, so please don't judge this book by its cover.
The absolute best part of the book are Jessica's illustrations. There are hundreds of them and they are adorable. Since I read What I Wore (and have been reading WIW for years) it was neat to see that Jessica used her own closet for her drawings. She's the real deal, folks. All of her tips and advice are things that she follows herself. I like that. I once bought a marriage advice book written by some dude who I later found out had been divorced and remarried three times after the book came out. He obviously wasn't drinking his own water. Jessica, on the other hand, is full-on swimming in hers.
It's great that she loves her wardrobe and her writing makes it clear that she wants you to love your wardrobe, too. The base advice is really great: pick one core neutral color (black, brown, or gray) then choose a secondary color palette and shop with those in mind. Her advice on organizing and splurging vs. saving is great, too. She illustrates hundreds of ways to create new outfits and how to use pieces over and over again in different ways.
It's a light read (cover to cover in less than an hour) and it's a good reference for those who want to start building a wardrobe that has staying power (this would be a great gift for a new college graduate or a young teacher). Keep in mind, though, that you are going to see are the same silhouettes you see on What I Wore: lots of full skirts, lady-like accessories, and great office wear. If you want edgy or trendy, go elsewhere. If classic and feminine are more your thing, this is the book for you!
Essentially, getting dressed and feeling good about how you look is just wearing what works for your life and your body. For Jessica, flip-flops and maxi length dresses or skirts or off the shoulder or strapless tops don't work. You won't see them in the book at all. Does that mean you shouldn't get them? I don't know. I'm not an expert, but by using Jessica's own credo, if it fits, looks good, and you feel good, go for it!
Verdict: I recommend this book for any woman who is stuck in a fashion rut or for the woman looking to build her first professional wardrobe. With hundreds of outfit ideas and a somewhat modest wardrobe selection, when you own "What I Wore: Four Seasons, One Closet, Endless Recipes for Personal Style" you have no more excuses to stand outside your closet saying, "I have nothing to wear!" anymore.
You can order your copy at WhatIWoreBook.com. Get it. It inspired me so much that I took seven bags of clothes to Goodwill so that my wardrobe is more streamlined. It sure has made getting dressed in the mornings a lot easier!