Style by Lauren Conrad

Lauren Conrad celebrated her 26th birthday earlier this week, so we thought it’d be appropriate to write a review of her fashion guide, simply entitled Style.  This editor had seen the book in Urban Outfitters about two years ago.  It looked halfway decent, but didn’t get around to borrowing it from a friend until last November.  Honestly, I was pretty skeptical when I started to read it…  Don’t get me wrong – I have loved “LC” since my college roommate and I stayed in the dorms instead of going home for our Fall Break freshman year, and watched an entire Laguna Beach marathon.  Ever since she stated that she wore her eye makeup according to her mood, I have been on Team Lauren.  But we know she didn’t get a coveted internship at Teen Vogue because of a unique sense of style, or dedication to the subject.  She looked like every other teenage girl in the US at the time – slim-cut jeans, flip-flops and straightened hair.  We know, because we saw her sport these outfits every week on the TV show that followed around her high school clique.  BUT, she was one of the few American teenagers with her own reality show at the time.  Conrad went on to work for the magazine (whose sales doubled, following her hire), and eventually for the fashion PR firm, People’s Revolution.  Despite her career origins possibly stemming from a stunt, she obviously has true dedication for the subject, otherwise she still wouldn’t be working in the industry; she would have accepted other ridiculous reality show deals and movie offers her tacky co-stars have indulged in.  My other hesitation about taking LC’s fashion advice seriously, is the fact that she continuously thanks her stylist, makeup artist and hairdresser throughout the book (she even dedicated it to them); while it’s lovely she thanks the people responsible for her “look,” shouldn’t they be the ones writing a style guide then?  Despite that, it seems Conrad has picked up quite a bit of knowledge working in fashion, and living as a television celebrity.  The book is divided into three sections: Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle, and their subsections: Building Your Wardrobe, The All-American Uniform: Jeans and T-shirts, The Hunt: How to Shop, Mastering Your Closet, Accessories, Getting Dressed: The Fun Part, Makeup, Hair, Work and School, Travel, and Events and Parties.  The basics sections of these guides tend to all sound the same, promoting the same exact items every woman should have in her wardrobe: a little black dress, a pair of well-fitting jeans, a button-down shirt, a blazer and so forth, and Conrad is no different listing the same items with a few of her own additions.  Kind of a “been there, done that” feel.  (Seriously, was there some kind of Procrustean fatwa issued to fashion authors from clothing companies that makes them all repeat the same things?)  Although, this list is notoriously repeated probably due to the versatility of each item.  It’s the starter kit for any American woman trying to reform her wardrobe.  (Note: Let it be said, due to Conrad’s background, this guide is more of a how-to look like an upper middle class girl from southern California.  It’s got some fantastic tips, but Lauren did grow up in Orange County, which heavily influences the way she dresses.)  Conrad does do an excellent segment on the LBD (pictured, above right), showing how it can be worn five different ways: bohemian, evening, preppy, casual and edgy.  People often write how a little black dress can be easily changed with accessories, but rarely demonstrate how many ways the same dress can be worn.

Throughout the guide, Conrad gives makeup advice, how-to hairstyles, and what to buy and wear.  It’s similar to a lot of basic fashion books, but LC does give this one her own edge.  The absolute best statement Conrad makes is, “Style Is Lawless” (on page 108).  She explains that she doesn’t believe there are any rules in fashion, saying that people can wear white after Labor Day and that black and navy can definitely be worn together if the materials differ (like black jeans with a navy blazer).  We agree with her 100%.  While there are guidelines of what to wear to work, weddings, churches, funerals, interviews, and other social events, there’s no reason people shouldn’t be adventurous in their own down-time with their own clothing!  How else are you going to take risks and learning what you like?!  Conrad also lists some excellent discount fashion websites, including Gilt, Rue La La, HauteLook, and Editors’ Closet, which I highly recommend.  There are truly unique items at real discount prices on these sites, which people could lose hours looking at!  Conrad promotes the use of cobblers, which we also love.  Our editors are descended from Italian shoemakers (which probably accounts for our stiletto passion), and we rarely hear people esteem this dying art.  Every pair of shoes, no matter the price, eventually does get scuffed, scraped or worn down.  We have our favorite pairs fixed often (mostly getting the taps replaced on our well worn “skinny stilettos”).  It’s a great investment, and much cheaper than buying another pair of shoes!  Conrad mentioned that she gets boots that are too tight stretched out at her cobbler to make them more comfortable, and noted that shoes can be stretched in width, but never in length, so it’s important to buy the proper size.  (Two things this editor did not know footwear!)  Miss LC had some other very cute ideas.  She discussed several guidelines for buying vintage, and showed a very dated 1980s prom dress that she had bought – and how adorable it looked when she just removed the puffy sleeves on it.  In one simple move, she showed what could be perceived as garbage, and made a brand new cocktail dress!  Genius.  Conrad also likes to use shoe clips to dress up simple pumps, instead of buying multiple pairs of fancy heels.  We thought this was such a creative idea, because how often do people use shoe clips anymore?  Plus it saves money!  It gave me a reason to finally use the decorative white barrettes from my First Communion that have been sitting in my sock drawer for 18 years!  The last piece of Lauren’s advice we loved was the idea to buy pins with pearlized ends from a craft store to hang necklaces from.  It sounds basic enough, but makes a lot more sense than using nails and flattened staples (like I did as a teenager…) if you’re looking for a pretty way to store jewelry other than in a box.  Other than my original hesitation, the only complaint I have with the book is the advice given in the Work and School section.  Conrad has really only worked in the fashion industry, so the rules for appropriate work clothing is different for her than the majority of the world.  She mentions wearing tights and cardigans to work, which seems harmless enough, but it also sounds like she’s outfitting a little girl from the 1950s.  While American men dress for the job position they’re already in, American women actually have to dress above their own position if they hope to get promoted (i.e. If you’re a secretary, you should dress like an executive.  So no sweater-sets if you want to move up in the world!)  The fashion world has completely different rules for office clothing, because they’re under the pressure to look edgy, as well as professional.  This advice is explained in better detail in the classic Dress for Success by John T. Molloy, one of the most important style guides ever written.  (Guess it would have made sense to review that book before any others – especially since we’re always referring to it!)  LC has come a long way from the quiet teenager on Laguna Beach and it’s nice to see her have a passion for fashion, when so many of her counterparts seem like they want to make a quick buck off their 15 minutes.  Despite my initial reservations, Conrad put together an entertaining and lovely style guide for young American women.  We’re proud to still be on Team Lauren, even 8 years later! ❤


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