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?

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