Friday, October 07, 2011

From the Style Shelf: Style Statement

I really can't recommend this book highly enough.  

If you're only every going to read/own one book to help you define your personal style, this is the one. This isn't just personal style as in "I wear black rather than brown" or "I prefer silk to cotton", although those kinds of considerations are addressed.  This is personal style writ large - the kind of basis for personal expression that can affect and influence every aspect of your life.  Seriously!  And it's a book well worth revisiting at any point in time when difficult decisions are to be made; it serves to remind you of what really matters to you (or at least what you THOUGHT mattered at the time you originally read the book).

I have never been one of those people who really liked books that had lots of "self-help" questionnaires that you had to complete.  For one thing, I think I'm preternaturally biased against writing in books (my parents would be proud!), and I always had the sense that I could get the gist of what was being accomplished without taking all of that time and energy to scribble down my responses.  But with this book, believe me, the exercises are well worth doing, and at the end of everything, you will have a two-word... slogan? mantra? manifesto? for the rest of your life.  That seems worth the trouble, no?

For example, the following is a sample of Either-Or choices from which you will choose one of the two words:

Answer the phone/Voicemail
Red wine/White wine
Milk Chocolate/Dark Chocolate
Live theater/New DVD
Morning person/Night owl

After you complete these various exercises, you distill, analyze, and ponder ponder ponder what you're written until you come up with the words that reflect the real you.

I turned out to be a Cosmopolitan Classic.

What will you be?

This very excellent book is available here from our favorite Powell's Bookstore.  Just trust me on this one.


  1. First attempt at leaving a comment disappeared.

    I'm a Refined Gamine. This book is one of my absolute favorites.

  2. It's definitely more in-depth than any other style book I've read, and only somewhat about wardrobe style.

    I've been thinking about picking up another copy. I also had a hard time writing in the book, and even pitched it about 6 months after completing it, because I just didn't like having a written-in book. Wish I hadn't done that, because now I want to go through it again.

    It has been a few years, and while I still agree with the "style statement" I ended up with (Cultivating Story), it's a statement that's more just what I am about--which is interesting, but the statement hasn't really guided me in terms of style choices in my wardrobe, home, etc. I don't put together an outfit and say, "Now that's Cultivating Story."

    I think I'll go at it again, making sure I'm thinking "style" in the somewhat narrower sense. I want a statement that actually says "style", like "Cosmopolitan Classic" and "Refined Gamine".

    Vivienne, from looking at the wardrobes you put together, and especially those that represent your actual travel or at home clothes, you are totally a Cosmopolitan Classic!

  3. I loved this book too. I just recently purged because I "knew" I had my notes and could refer to them. I can't find my notes so this was not a good plan. May have to get it from the library and do again. xxBliss

  4. I purged the book--I wasn't letting you know I just threw up or anything. Wanted clarify.

  5. Hi Vivienne, I plan on checking out this book over at Amazon, but I wanted to thank you again for your beautiful recommendations for my trip to San Francisco and wine country. I felt great in what I packed and used everything (no regrets on over or under packing!), only shopped for 2 additions that were not already in my closet. :) Marys

  6. This was the first (& last) book I ever wrote in. I came up with organic creative, which I think is really relevant to me & my choices in life - not just fashion choices.

  7. I love this book!! I am Sophisticated Refined. People have complained that you are "branding" yourself with this book but I love the idea that it focuses purchases and other choices if you stay true to your statement.

  8. As a former brand project director, I don't see anything wrong with branding oneself. It just means that you've focused on the essentials that make you different from everyone else, and you're presenting that essence in as clear a way as possible. That all sounds like a benefit to me!

  9. This book looks fascinating. I already bought my copy over the weekend after reading your post....can't wait to find out what I am!

  10. I'll have to check out the library for this. Thanks for the recommendation!


  11. Dear Adrienne,
    You'll have to let us know what you learn! Actually, I'd love to know what other findings people have from this book; please post a comment and share your personal "statement".
    and thanks for being here,

  12. I am a Composed Playful and would love to see your take on that statement style. Now I know why I'm not comfortable wearing all the bright colors I have in my closet. That was my Playful side coming out, but they are just too much! In the future I'll limit the bold colors and patterns to accessories only.

    Love the work you do and all the inspiration you give us. Thanks.

  13. I've just ordered my copy and am looking forward to working through it!

  14. I bought the book on your recommendation and the positive comments left here. I have worked my way through the reflective questions and concluded... Genuine Nostalgic. Now I am trying to apply it to my style choices. It is quite evident in my home, and I can see the application in my accessories but what this means for clothing choices is a little elusive. I guess it does explain my penchant for jackets with design elements from the past.

  15. Hmmm, I love Genuine Nostalgic! To me it feels like authentic fabrics, classic styles, and an almost vintage feel. What great words to use as a mantra for one's image...
    thanks for sharing - I love hearing from you!

  16. Thank you for share this informative post.

  17. I always try to find style in books.It is a great effort from you.I really appreciate this post.No doubt it is very signification information for me and many other.
    examples of personal statements