The Fashion File Review
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Why would I seek fashion advice from a costume designer, especially one who outfits a television show set in the 1960s? What guidance could this woman possibly provide me, where the end result wouldn’t be considered ostentatious or outright gaudy? These questions prompted me to read The Fashion File: Advice, Tips and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men.

When I first received the book, I was impressed. Judging a book by its cover, and skimming through it, I noticed beautiful photographs and illustrations—perfect to decorate any coffee table.

But how about content and functionality? Emmy Award-winning costume designer Janie Bryant details the process of outfitting the characters of Mad Men and explains how you can use this method to find your own style, the image that you want to project, and the character that you want to portray at any particular time. She reveals her fashion inspirations throughout the decades and shows how to use each period to help define your style. This includes adding vintage pieces to a contemporary wardrobe.

Ms. Bryant does eventually get down to the nitty-gritty. She explains how to organize your “dressing room” (closet), and she lists the ten pieces that every woman should own. She also explains what each of the four body types should wear to accentuate their assets and detract from the less-desirable areas, and she shows how you can accessorize your outfits to make your wardrobe feel new. From scarves to jewelry to handbags to hats, she covers it all with clarity and humor. She also illustrates the numerous ways to change up that simple black cocktail dress.

And let’s not forget color, fit, shape wear, how to wear a scarf, and how to walk in those damn stilettos. She also instigates that touchy subject, “Comfort Versus Chic,” when she replaces “Fashion Felons” with “Stylish Substitutes.”

Each chapter concludes with a page of “Cocktail Chatter,” in which Ms. Bryant adds interesting celebrity tidbits that relate to the topic. I particularly liked the checklist at the end of each chapter, which not only summarizes the main points but also specifically adds an action plan.

Although this book is geared toward women, there’s also a helpful chapter dedicated to men’s fashion. You’ll even learn how to help with your man’s tie.

The Fashion File is everything that its cover makes it out to be—and then some. It would make the perfect gift for any woman—from the one who needs a lot of help in the style department to the one who thinks she has it all figured out but is still intrigued with fashion history. When I’m not referring to it, my copy sits regally on my coffee table. It’s too alluring to hide on a bookshelf.

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