Friday, April 03, 2020

“How to Not Wear Black” by Anna Murphy – A Book Review

Recently I read the newly published book How to Not Wear Black by Anna Murphy, Fashion Director at The Times of London. The book is a practical guide to help you find your style and create your forever wardrobe. Also, we will find great tips on the pages of the book how to always look our best with the help of clothes and accessories that are right for us.

The title is very suggestive too – the author teaches us how we can embrace color in our lives and in our wardrobes. Many times we turn to our black clothes because it’s just simpler and easier – don’t we all have multiple pairs of black pants in our wardrobe that we wear almost every other day, not to mention the black blouses and sweaters, and of course LBDs? Anna Murphy shows us how to wear other than black. It’s not like we shouldn’t wear black anymore, it’s just we shouldn’t wear it all the time.

It was a fun and easy book to read, and I really enjoyed it. I found Anna Murphy’s suggestions and tricks really useful, easy to follow, and easy to adapt to our personal style and our wardrobe.

The book is structured in 15 chapters, and in each of these chapters the author talks about different aspects of our wardrobe and how we should approach it in order to enhance our style, as well as boost our confidence when choosing our outfit every morning.

In the first chapter for example, “Bodymapping”, we learn that before we build our perfect wardrobe, we need to figure out our body shape. According to Anna Murphy, there are seven main shapes of our bodies – neat hourglass, full hourglass, triangle, inverted triangle, column, rectangle and rounded. “Fashion is architecture. It is a matter of proportions”, Coco Chanel said once. Once we know which shape is our body, we can choose the right clothes to flatter us and to fit us best.

In the next chapters we learn how to start building our perfect wardrobe by reviewing our entire closet, keeping the good and getting rid of the bad. Anna Murphy suggests a great technique how to select the winner clothes which will make up our new and improved wardrobe. Some of the questions that we should ask ourselves when triaging each piece of clothing are if it fits, or if we look and feel great when wearing it, and this way we will know which pieces will stay and which will go.

Next great tips that Anna Murphy teaches us are how to combine black with color so that we don’t wear black all the time; how to choose the right colors for us depending on our skin tone; how to choose expressive patterns depending on our body shape. One of my favorite tricks that I learned from this book is how we can use patterns in our wardrobe in order to balance our figure. It’s also a great idea to use patterns in order to attract attention to those parts of our body that we love the most. For example, if you are a triangle, with narrow shoulders and full hips and thighs, then your best bet is a patterned top and a monochromatic skirt or pants. On the contrary, if you are an inverted triangle (wide shoulders and small hips), then wear monochromatic and simple clothes as tops, and patterned bottoms.

One of my favorite chapters in the book is the one dedicated to sustainable fashion (Chapter 8), as I am a big sustainable fashion enthusiast myself. Style is about attitude, it has nothing to do with money, or quantity. We don’t need to buy more, we just need to buy better. Every single effort that we make in order to be more sustainable in our sartorial choices counts – it counts where we buy our clothes from, how much and how frequently we shop for clothes, and so on. I can talk a lot about sustainable fashion, but I will only mention a few tricks that the author reminds us in the book (because we already know all of this already, we just need to be aware of it all the time) – buy less, and buy better. Buy what truly flatters your body, and you will wear it many times. Don’t buy one-time items, because they will just take up valuable space in your wardrobe and in your life. Buy from brands who commit to be sustainable. The author also shares a list of 20 sustainable fashion brands at the end of the chapter, and she encourages us to embrace a slower fashion style. Some of the brands and designers from Anna Murphy’s sustainable list were already familiar to me – Eileen Fisher, People Tree, Stella McCartney. Also, H&M Conscious and Mango Committed collections are on this responsible list – while H&M and Mango are two behemoths in the fast fashion world, these two collections are their forays into sustainability.

It is a great book for all those who love fashion, but also for those who might need a little boost of wardrobe confidence. It’s a book that will teach you how to make clothes in your wardrobe work full time for you.
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