Book review: Love Style Life by Garance Dore

One thing to know about me: I love fashion. Loooooove it. I have for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I had subscriptions to Teen and Seventeen magazines, and as I got older those turned into Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. I would spend hours pouring over them, studying them, in awe of and pining after beautiful clothes that I could never afford (and probably wouldn’t know how to wear even if I COULD afford them). And even though I was fascinated by all things aesthetically pleasing, I rarely (er, never) dressed the part of a fashionista. My excuse for the first seventeen years of my life was that I had to wear a school uniform – what was the point spending time (and my allowance) buying clothes that would never see the light of day? As I reached my late teens and early twenties, though, and those sneaky extra (few dozen) pounds I mentioned in an earlier post started making themselves at home, I wasn’t comfortable enough in my own skin to want to dress in a way that attracted any kind of attention, complimentary or not. Eventually, thankfully, the weight came off and I was faced with something I hadn’t really ever had the pleasure of experiencing – being able to buy (and actually fit into) those stylish clothes I’d always admired.

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One of my more recent (and better) style moments

And just as I was redefining my own personal style, I discovered street style. Street style blogs, specifically. Whimsical and glamorous as it is, high fashion is obviously impractical for, you know, normal existence, but I didn’t want to conform to the sartorial expectations of both where I live (a very rural area) and my profession (librarian). There had to be a happy medium that would let me tie both worlds together. I was trying to figure all this out when I came across an article in the New York Times fashion section about a guy named Scott Schuman, also known as The Sartorialist, and his colleague, Garance Dore. Both were photographers who had started blogs that highlighted their shots of stylish people – and not just those in the fashion industry, but real people – on the streets of New York. I’d never heard the term “street style” before then, but this described EXACTLY what I aspired to – something that had no rules, that allowed you to fully embrace and show off your quirks and individuality through your wardrobe.

So I followed Scott and Garance online, learning from and being inspired by them. Over time, Garance’s blog started to evolve to include musings on other aspects of life. It didn’t focus solely on beautiful exteriors, but turned introspective, discussing love, aging, travel, growth (personally and professionally). I found that I was interested in so much of what she (and her team, as her online presence grew) had to say, and as much as I loved Scott’s photography, I found myself turning to Garance for inspiration more frequently. Her personable, down-to-earth voice made it seem like she was just one of your pals, chatting about these things over coffee in her (incredibly chic and well-accoutred) home.

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Meeting Garance at her book signing this past fall. She was so kind and gracious, and I’m pretty sure I babbled incoherently.

When she announced that she was writing a book, I was thrilled. I expected it to be a kind of summation of her blog’s greatest hits, but it ended up being so much more than that. She shared her thoughts on fashion and beauty, of course, about being a Frenchwoman adapting to life in New York City, her style evolution, and what inspires her, all with her effervescent sense of humor shining through. But the story of her career arc is what fascinated me. I didn’t expect to feel such a kinship with someone living a life so utterly different from my own. She struggled to find her niche in the world. She was full of artistic ambitions with no outlet for them, no idea for how to project them. It took her a long time to find that outlet, but once she came across the right medium, she embraced it and made it her own. Her blog, started in 2006 before anyone even knew what in the hell a blog was, revolutionized the way that fashion is disseminated to us regular people. As beloved as they still are, we aren’t tied to print magazines anymore…she gave us an alternative that’s just as good, if not better, than the traditional format. Her journey was relatable but empowering, and considering the crossroads I’m at myself now, I drew considerable strength from knowing that she eventually succeeded. I enjoyed her blog prior to reading her book, but I have a whole new level of respect and admiration for her now. So, Garance, thank you for continually finding new ways to inspire your readers. ❤️

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