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This comprehensive, colorfully-illustrated guide for the fashionably challenged was written by the hosts of TLC’s What Not to Wear.

The subjects are ordinary people of every conceivable shape and size. We first see them in bathing suits. After studying their proportions, we learn what different types of clothing work to balance them and why. The results are impressive.

The book focuses more on women than on men, and there are a disturbing number of references to Barbie included, though little is said of Ken. Much attention is focused on “The Girls,” (defined as “breasts, boobs, knockers, maracas, etc.”), who are seemingly the most common problem areas for women.

I’ve always instinctively followed the suggestions directed at the men—which differ drastically, and without apologies, from advice given to women with similar proportions. While top-heavy women are advised to wear snug jackets, top-heavy men are encouraged to wear jackets that allow free range of motion.

For women who prioritize comfort, some advice may be difficult to heed. “We love all girls in heels!” may discourage those who prefer the option of safely running to catch a bus or getting to the phone in time when they’re just outside their offices. Perhaps shoes shaped like slices of pizza will elongate a bottom-heavy frame, but what will become of the feet that are shaped like…well…feet?

Certain suggestions might not appeal to everyone’s aesthetic sense. Metallic shoes may be a “must have” for women, but for reasons I can’t explain, I wouldn’t wear them unless I were trying to be funny. And I was stunned to read that metallic shoes are not just for women!

It was fascinating to learn that razor stubble causes pilling on a man’s cashmere sweater, although it doesn’t say whether avoiding cashmere will remedy this. Other important highlights: Every man should own a high-quality umbrella, super-extended toe boxes will make a man’s feet look bigger, and, in certain instances, going without socks is indeed acceptable! And I considered the suggestion to distress a new hem on jeans with sandpaper simply brilliant.

Though most terms are well explained in the text, it includes a delightfully intriguing glossary to assist readers in navigating the exotic language of fashion—from dutchess satin and peplum to charmeuse and ruching.

The editing isn’t quite polished, but the book is interesting and very readable. Even if you’re not into fashion, anyone could benefit from some advice in this book.

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