What I learned about style from Nina Garcia

by Sylvia

the little black book of style, Nina Garcia - a review

I have just finished reading the little black book of style. As you know I’m on a quest to define style, so I’m keen to learn from the experts. You may know Nina Garcia as one of the judges in the popular show Project Runway, but she is also the Fashion Director at Marie Claire.

Be your own muse

Style is all about confidence. That is one of Nina’s main messages and in the first chapter she explains how to be your own muse.

The first and most important step to developing style is to project … confidence. The kind of condidence that tells others that you respect yourself, love yourself and dress up for yourself and nobody else. You are your own muse.

I like that message and wholeheartedly agree with this. This is the main message that seems to be a thread on all stylebooks I have read sofar, so perhaps I should start writing an article on how to gain that confidence!

She also writes:

When a woman embraces her “imperfections” they can become her greatest strengths, definers of her character and spirit. When she plays up her weakness and draws you to her flaws, she makes them special, attractive and even enviable.

Something to consider!

The basics of style

Since style is so indefinable there are no clear ‘rules’ as to how to achieve it. It’s a very personal thing. Despite that she presents us with 10 basic principles you will need to master in order become a style icon.

  1. You need to know what you like and what looks good on you
  2. You need to invest in some good essential pieces
  3. Every now and then go for drama and buy something spectactular
  4. Get lots of shoes
  5. Learn how to accessorize
  6. Get a good tailor
  7. Don’t jump on any trend
  8. Money doesn’t buy you style
  9. Know how to mix it up
  10. Don’t aim for perfection

She goes into detail about each of these principles and gives you some quick pointers. Shoes are really important to Nina. Her motto is that you can never have enough shoes and most of them should have high heels!


Her next chapter is on getting the inspiration for your style. Major categories of inspiration include:

  • Style and film, where she lists a number of inspirational movies for style
  • Music, where she highlights the main influencers on style from the music scene
  • Travel, where she gives brief summaries of style in each continent
  • Art, where she highlights the inspirations of a few designers

What to wear when

In this chapter Nina describes what to wear in certain situations like on a plane, at a party, first date, meeting the in-laws, job interview etc. Descriptions are brief and minimal though so don’t expect to learn too much from that.

Insider tips and tricks

Quick and brief insights on some questions on style from Diane von Furstenberg, Zac Posen, Ralph Lauren, Margherita Missoni, Elle MacPherson and Michael Kors, Roberto Cavalli to name but a few.

Decade to Decade

The book ends with some key names to know from each fashion era during the last century. Handy for a quick brush up of your designer knowledge.


Nina’s book is a fun little book to read on style that you will finish quickly. Don’t expect too much in terms of learning about style, because it doesn’t go into much depth on topics and does not contain any photos for inspiration. Instead it offers tips on all topics described above in a concise manner. I agree with the main message of the book that you need to find out who you are and who you want to be in the world and then show yourself with confidence. To that end I feel that learning about yourself and finding your style statement can really help. You can buy the book from Amazon.

Have you read the Little Black Book of Style? What did you think of it?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Suzanne

I love Project Runway but people think Nina is mean on that show. 🙂
I have not read this book but I do read the blog that Nina writes for Target (“on the dot”). There is a lot of good information on that site – and lots of pictures. October was the first one and now November’s is up. She talks about her “obsessions”, hats, 4 “it” looks (colorblocking, men’s wear, modern grunge, & mixing patterns), how to “Break The Rules”, 5″ heels, make-up, and Nina’s inspirations (videos and film). There is an article on how to re-invent and re-imagine your clothes. I am inspired by her and think I would enjoy the book too. In the fashion world she is considered to have perfect taste.


2 Sylvia

Sadly I haven’t seen the last couple of series of Project Runway. Thanks for mentioning the blog. I will check it out.


3 Anna B

Oh thanks for making me aware of that blog. How interesting. I also think she is mean on that show. I think a lot of the celebrity and guest judges are. I think they’re told to act in that character though, as a way to add some interest to the show. I doubt they’re like that in real life.


4 The Style Crone

Haven’t read the book, but I like what she says about embracing imperfections and self confidence. Thanks for the review!


5 Sylvia

Yes, that is a great message and one I’m always keen to share. It was also the main message in the book.


6 Heather Fonseca

Interesting! I love reading style books and always get something out of them. Each author has their own take on fashion and style so they’re all a little different.
Like Suzanne I find Nina very unpleasant on Project Runway and I’m not sure I’d want to read a book by her because of that. On the other hand I like her belief that confidence is key – it really is.



7 Sylvia

She is the same in the book to be honest, so I don’t think that this is the right book for you. I find it very interesting to read different takes from people and currently have a whole pile of style books that I’m reading. Will keep you up to date!


8 Nanne

I love style books, so I might take a look at this! My favourites are “The Lucky Shopping Manual: Building and Improving Your Wardrobe Piece by Piece ” by Andrea Linett and Kim France and “What I Wore: Four Seasons, One Closet, Endless Recipes For Personal Style” by Jessica Quirk.


9 Sylvia

Thanks for the tips Nanne. I’ve got the Lucky guide to mastering any style already here. From the same series as the book you suggested.


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