Books tackle fashionable subjects
The Hollywood writers' strike has robbed us of scripted television and, more important to fashion fanatics, the annual awards season with all its gowns, finery and morning-after cattiness as we recount the evenings' best and worst dressed.
For those in need of a fashion fix during the lull until the major Fashion Week showcases, settle back with some good old-fashioned entertainment in the form of a book or two. You still remember what those are, don't you?
Yomotsu is a Web designer who is one of the few male Angelers, or followers of designer Takuya Angel, who has a kimono-meets-clubwear aesthetic.
» "The Tokyo Look Book,"
by Philomena Keet with photography by Yuri Manabe (Kodansha International, softcover, 224 pages, $29.95)
Tokyo is one of the world's most fashionable cities, home to some of the most creative dressers you'll ever see, and if you lack the funds to get there, you need only turn to "The Tokyo Look Book" to peek at the people who influence fashion around the globe.
The book is by anthropologist Philomena Keet, who is conducting doctoral research on Tokyo street fashion with London University's School of African and Oriental Studies Program. But don't expect a dull thesis. Keet goes into the clubs, streets and designers' studios to get to know the people and personalities involved in the creation of looks and movements. Among those represented are the Goths and cosplayers who hang out at the Jingubashi Bridge on Sundays, the kids on Harajuku back streets, as well as stylish young professionals, and those who blend traditional kimono with modern luxuries.
And for the truly word-challenged, there are choke photographs that wow, entertain and inspire.
You get a sense of Keets' struggle as an anthropologist for an explanation for the Tokyo Look phenomenon. What we get is, "Culturally, there may be something in the Japanese ability to have fun with clothes and enjoy them for what they are rather than perceiving them as some meaningless frivolity which detracts from the 'inner self.'"
For some people, trying to define or make sense of the quickly evolving Tokyo Look is futile.
But it does make sense when she surmises that a cultural trait of refraining from speaking one's mind, or feigned apathy, might have allowed spectacular style to thrive without fear of open ridicule.
» "Tokyo Style File: A Shopping Guide," by Jahnvi Dameron Nandan (Kodansha International, softcover, 270 pages, $16)
As a guide to 600 boutiques offering everything from designer brand luxury to recycled fashion, this book is best suited to the individual planning a trip to Tokyo.
Few others would find much reason to delve through page after page of listings, unless you're an entrepreneur planning a Tokyo strategy.
Even if you are Tokyo-bound, the book is not easy to navigate because listings are alphabetical, instead of by the way people actually hunt and shop, which would be by area.
There are maps and cross-references, but you still have to flip through a lot of pages to find what you want.
Samu began following Takuya Angel after seeing a visual-kei (visual style) band wear the look on stage. She is pictured here at an Angeler night, an event that weds music and fashion.
» "Just Try it On: A Month by Month Guide to Shopping and Style,"
by Susan Redstone (Citadel Press, paperback, 221 pages, $15.95)
New York fashion writer Susan Redstone has put together a fun how-to for navigating malls and boutiques with a lot of insight into the retail cycle, and, as every fashionable soul knows, timing and planning are key ingredients in getting the best deals and staying stylish.
The timing of its release this January means you'll be able to make full use of Redstone's tips throughout the year, and slow readers can take in the chapters a month at a time.
This month, she advises readers to put together a fashion emergency kit so that you'll have all the items you need to divert any potential disaster. Your kit would include basic sewing implements and spare buttons for quick mends, as well as double-sided tape, baby wipes and stick moisturizer for instant fixes, including holding down flyaway hair.
That said, this is not for the person who is already an expert shopper with a strong sense of style. But for those with any doubts, the author gives the OK to shop at thrift shops and mix high and low merchandise, and explains why it's not always wise to follow sales. To wit: "In general the oddball selection and variety of sizes, colors and styles in the sales don't necessarily offer up a good enough reason to shop them. Then consider the fact that should you find something cool, like a top or even a discounted designer dress, that other people ... will have already been wearing. ... So hold on tight to your pocketbook at all times when you can in January."
Topics covered to deal with throughout the year include "The Vacation Edit," "Why Uncomfortable Shoes Will Never Change," "How to Build a Stable of Bags," "Dress Code Decoder," "When to Splurge" and "How to Create Iconic Style for Yourself."
» "Crazy About Jewelry: The Expert Guide to Buying, Selling and Caring for Your Jewelry," by Susan Eisen (Full Circle International Publishing, paperback, 246 pages, $16.95)
Jeweler and appraiser Susan Eisen has created a guide for efficiently maintaining, safeguarding and organizing jewelry wardrobes in a way that allows wearers to accessorize with ease.
Answering a few basic questions and establishing an inventory and wish list, for instance, will help consumers avoid the dilemma of making too many expensive mistakes that prevent them from building the collection of their dreams.
Among topics covered are common jewelry-buying mistakes, matching necklaces to necklines, ways to transform your old jewelry into exciting new pieces, and the appraisal process.