In the middle of a pile of books, if I remember correctly.
"How to Have Style" (Gotham Books, 2008) is designer's Isaac Mizrahi's first fashion book. He chooses 12 very different women and styles them each according to their tastes, lifestyle and physical appearance. One of the nicest aspects of the book is the inspiration board he asks each woman to construct, and he uses this s a guide in choosing and styling the outfits. It's a lovely book, very warm and a surprisingly good read. I bought this as a treat when I was in New York last year and ended up reading it three times cover to cover before I got home. He has a nice touch, does Isaac, and a genuine affection for each woman he styles.
Surprise: How much the inspiration boards assist in assessing the women's style.
Verdict: A very helpful book.
The jury is always out on Trinny and Susannah - it seems half the world hates them and the other half adores them. Personally, I think they are very clever business women and believe they paved the way for women's interests to be represented and expanded in popular culture (television particularly). Who do You Want to be Today (Orion 2008) is my favourite of their dozen or so books; I've chosen it because of the beautiful layout (the type and art direction are great) and because it encourages you to try all kinds of styles when most fashion books suggest you pick a look and stick with it. Like Isaac, they use a series of every day women (four to be exact) and use each as models for the twelve different types of looks they've devised. The results go along way to encouraging you to try a different look; for example, Rosamund in her late fifties is a beautiful androgynous look, while later in the book she is perfectly styled in boho garb. Inspiration boards are apparently the new black - each of the twelve looks includes an inspiration board and there is a pleasing attention paid to to the use of accessories.
Surprises: How easy it is to switch from one look to another.
Verdict: Would be a valuable tool for inspiration or rejuvenation.
The oldest book in my stash is More Dash than Cash (Hutchison 1982, part of the Vogue franchise) and was written by UK journalist Kate Hogg. The book concentrates on building a wardrobe from all kinds of sources, not just department stores and chain stores. Nothing new now but a very outre view back then. The photos are dated in some instances, as is the style advice (I can guarantee you I would never consider wearing a pink tutu as a party frock) but no doubt it was all cutting edge three decades ago. Still, most of the pictures are fascinating and there is some useful advice (for example, the hemline of a skirt is always more important than the shape - find your right length and you're set for life. She's right, you know!) It's a nice archive and a pleasant way to wile away a rainy afternoon with a pot of tea.
Surprises: That the classics really haven't dated at all.
Verdict: Put the kettle on and grab some bickies.
And like all slightly compulsive persons, I'm leaving my favourite until last.