Sunday, December 13, 2009


I just finished reading Russell Smith's STYLE: The Thinking Man's Guide to Dress. I have to say I was duly impressed. I kept waiting for it to slip into the realm of snobbery, and it verged on it, but what started out as snobbery, came out, in the end, as honesty and insight.

I most definitely am not the market for this book. Ostensibly this is a guide to the rules of men's fashion, and it fulfils that role well, in an interesting and witty manner. But the premise is that if you're not wearing a suit, anything goes. I hardly ever wear a suit.

He does offer pointers for 'casual' dress, but feels that this is dangerous territory because most people have no sense of style, which is very true. Just take a look around. I have no real interest in the "rules" of fashion but picked the book up out of curiosity.

The real rewards for me were Mr. Smith's insight into culture, trends, and class, which transcends fashion and finds applications almost everywhere. I've cited this book dozens of times to back social insights that have nothing whatsoever to do with fashion. So my take away was that this is a great read, and maybe more aptly titled, "the thinking man's guide to culture." I found it insightful and extremely readable.

If you're looking for a "guide", but don't want some stuffy dry tome, you can't go wrong here. But even if you couldn't care less about the rules of fashion but enjoy good writing and social insights (in other words, you're like me) this book is still worth a look.

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