As I said yesterday, I was thrilled to be given the chance to finally read this book and review it.
To get the legal business out of the way up front, this IS NOT a paid post, the only thing I received for this post was a copy of the book so that I could read it, and the promise that a copy would be mailed to the reader of my choice if I provided an address. I am choosing who will receive the book by holding a contest.
To recap a little of what I explained in yesterdays post “Fashion Week at Frugal Upstate“, I don’t consider myself to be a fashionista. I do, however, think it is important to take some pride in how you look-if you feel that you look good, it makes you feel good. I also have a deathly fear of appearing outdated, or in a fashion time warp (cue twilight zone music here) having seen too many victims of that particular fashion faux pas.
On the other hand, I don’t want to spend a fortune to look good! I had great hopes for this book containing some good information.
Kathryn Finney runs a website, TheBudgetFashionista.com writes a syndicated column and of course, is an author. She, like many folks who have “come over” to the frugal side, had some unfortunate run ins with her credit card to the tune of $20,000 (not counting student loans). She eventually dug herself out of debt and vowed to be more frugal without sacrificing her love of fashion and stylish shoes. To quote her book:
I knew there had to be a way to be fiscally responsible and stylish at the same time. Like a Chanel clad phoenix rising from the ashes of financial stupidity, this book emerged. . . . I dumped my complete bag of money-saving fashion tips into this book in order to help you become a true budget fashion shopper.
This book is 222 pages long, and is basically divided up into 3 sections. Well, there is a 1 chapter introduction, and a 1 chapter conclusion, and 2 appendixes. . . . but the main bulk of the book are the 3 “steps”. Step 1 is the shortest at 14 pages and covers “Know Your Budget”. Step 2 “Know Your Style” is 103, and Step 3 “Know your Bargains” is 51. The two appendices cover “Online Budget Resources” and “Taking Care of Clothes”
Sprinkled throughout the book are “Budget Fashionista Tips”-these are pithy little tips that are highlighted with a grey box and a cute little icon character of Ms. Finney. Think of these as the author’s fashion rules to live by.
Ms. Finney’s writing style is very enjoyable to read. She has a modern, funny, “chatty girlfriend” voice that tells you the information without coming across as being preachy.
I must admit that there wasn’t much in the “Step 1-Know your Budget” section that really spoke to me. It was a quick down and dirty that covered a bit of budgeting, a bit about your FICO score, a bit about some ways to earn some extra cash. For me it was all old hat-VERY old hat. But then again, I write about being frugal every single day. For someone who has never really thought about being frugal or saving money it would give them some pointers, and hopefully a thirst for even more in depth knowledge.
I did however really find the list of “Other, Not-So-Ethical Ways to Raise Shopping Dough” hilarious, which included things like “Marry Rich” and “Score Celebrity Friends”. That Ms. Finney is a funny lady!
“Step 2-Know Your Style” had a lot of the meat and potatoes of this book for me. The chapter starts out with a quote from fashion icon, Yves Saint Laurent: Fashions fade, style is eternal. I often say that an item isn’t a bargain if you don’t need it. Well, we all have a lot of things in our closet that we don’t need because they don’t really look good on us, or don’t really fit us. Ms. Finney talks about reality dressing:
. . .dressing for who you are physically, emotionally, and financially at this point in your life-not who you were in college or how your favorite celebrity dresses. It’s about knowing what looks good on you and understanding why it looks good on you.
Lets face it, we’ve all spent a lot of money buying things for ourselves that didn’t fit that description. Imagine how much money we could have saved. . . .
I especially like her list of “The Perfect Ten, the Things That Should Be in Every Closet”. This is a list of classic pieces that every woman should have, along with some discussion on how each piece can be different depending on your personal style. I like having a list like this because it helps me to focus on items that I should be accumulating over time-perfect for a woman (that would be me) who does a majority of her shopping a thrift stores. I admit it, the prices are right, but the chances of finding a perfect black suit that fits my style in a size 10 might be hit or miss and take a few months, or even years! (but hey, when you finally score it for $10, you feel like you’ve won the lottery!)
She also had a tip (#10!) that is of especial frugal interest: Take Care of Your Clothes Like A Stylist, to include a chart with information like how to stretch a shrunken sweater! The longer we frugalites can make our purchases last, the better.
I was especially glad to see that there was a section on makeup-my two favorite fashion bloggers don’t wear makeup, so I don’t get any help online! I found a book that she recommended that I need to check out of the library, and was surprised to see that real makeup artists actually recommend that Wet n Wild brand that you see super cheap in the drug stores! Who knew? And for those of you who like DIY recipes there is a whole section on homemade spa recipes for scrubs, hair treatments, conditioners and such. Personally I’m one of those sacrilegious soap and water gals, I use cheap shampoo and don’t even condition–but don’t let that stop your fun.
The section on trends talks about and compares trends and staple items, and how to incorporate inexpensive trends in with your staples to make a more trendy look. (this is a favorite trick of mine. Thank you Wally World!) She even has a funny little piece on what to do when one of your favorite styles becomes a trend, and then becomes a trend that is over so that now our favorite item is a fashion faux pas
The single section of this whole entire book I am least likely to ever use in my entire life is the 3 pages or so about how to get in to the real fashion week tents at New York City (this falls at the end of section 2). I will never do this. I have no desire to ever do this. But hey, it’s only 3 pages of the book.
“Step 3 Know Your Fashions” had a lot of information about outlet malls, discount stores, family discounts and such that I probably won’t use much myself. It’s good information, and it’s there, but it just isn’t for me. There is info on buying via Ebay, and buying clothing from online retailers. All good stuff. But the chapter on thrift stores. . . . ahhh, now that is my favorite! It’s only 4 pages, but it has some good info, especially for novice thrifters. The biggest take away for ‘me? Calling the Salvation Army “Sally’s Boutique”. Ha! I’ll be using that one on my girlfriends There is also a few pages dedicated to the Do It Yourself (DIY) movement, including some sites where you can buy handmade one of a kind items. Personally, I prefer making things myself (if I can ever find the time).
This is an enjoyable and interesting read for anyone. Whether or not it deserves a place on your permanent bookshelf or just a library loan really depends on you and how much fashion interests you. These days I don’t buy books lightly and I wouldn’t have purchased a copy to keep, to me this was a read it, absorb it and return it kind of book-I’ll be donating my copy to the local library to share the wealth. However I can see where some of you might consider this a resource book. I would recommend either borrowing it from the library or leafing through a copy at the bookstore to determine if you really want to buy it.