A 1975 Fashion Guide Reprinted for a New Generation to Enjoy [Review]

 The Artist Librarian reviews the 40th Anniversary Edition of Cheap Chic: a mixture of both relevant advice and tips along with a fascinating (dare I say historical?) look into some of the fashion ideals of the 1970s.
(c.) 2015 by Three Rivers Press
Title: Cheap Chic: 40th Anniversary Edition
Authors: Caterine Milinaire & Carol Troy (Foreword by Tim Gunn)
Published: 2015 by Three Rivers Press (first published in 1975).

About the Book:
"Before there were street-style blogs and ‘zines, there was Cheap Chic. Selling hundreds of thousands of copies when it was originally published in 1975, this classic guide revealed how to find the clothes that will make you feel comfortable, confident, sexy, and happy, whether they come from a high-end boutique, sporting-goods store, or thrift shop.

Astonishingly relevant forty years later, Cheap Chic provides timeless practical advice for creating an affordable, personal wardrobe strategy: what to buy, where to buy it, and how to put it all together to make your own distinctive fashion statement without going broke. Alongside outfit ideas, shopping guides, and other practical tips are the original vintage photographs and advice from fashion icons such as Diana Vreeland and Yves Saint Laurent. Inspiring decades of fashion lovers and designers, Cheap Chic is the original fashion bible that proves you don’t have to be wealthy to be stylish."
The Artist Librarian's Review:
As a full time college student with limited funds (thank you, part time job), I aspire to cheap chic: I enjoy fashion and looking stylish, but don't want, nor can afford, to spend a lot on my clothes.  While not completely what I expected, the 40th Anniversary Edition of Cheap Chic is a mixture of both relevant advice and tips along with a fascinating (dare I say historical?) look into some of the fashion ideals of the 1970s.  Each chapter covers a type of clothing or topic such as classics, sportswear, work clothes, thrift store shopping, and ethnic wear, to name a few.  Interspersed in between are profiles and interviews with style mavens of the time such as Yves St. Laurent, Betsey Johnson, along with lesser known fashionistas. 

When I first heard of this 40th Anniversary Edition of Cheap Chic, I was under the impression that this was an updated or revised version of the original, which was first published in 1975.  However, other than a new forward written by style guru and fashion designer mentor Tim Gunn from Project Runway, it is basically a reprint.  While not what I was expecting, it was my misconception and mistake alone.  Regardless, there are some amusing details that date this book, such as the prices mentioned: "Sailor pants ... should run about $6" (pg. 17) --if only new pants were that inexpensive today!  Another historical aspect are the style interviews --it's interesting to see how the people the authors' chose to profile thought about popular 1970s styles.  Fran Liebowitz confesses, "I can't believe what some people wear ... incredible platform shoes, glitter, hideous fabrics ... useless extravagance" (pg. 77). 

Despite my initial disappointment, Cheap Chic has quite a few relevant ideas and advice that make this style book worth a read, in my opinion.  The idea cost-per-wear, in which you invest in a better quality, well made piece if you will wear it multiple times more than a cheaper option, is one that I've seen other stylists use or suggest today.  For myself, one of the most interesting portions of the book was a section on wrapping fabric into skirts, tops, sarongs, and other clothing items.  That chapter in particular definitely had a 1970s, laid back, hippies, boho chic, carefree sort of attitude. 

Though certain sections such as "The Chic Shopper's Guide" ---a directory of stores near the end of the book-- are most likely obsolete and irrelevant today, there are enough gems such as a chart of how to care or clean different fabric types and other concepts and advice that make this mid-20th century style guide worth a read or a check-out from your local library.

Brief content note: This was published in the 1970s and reflecting that era, there are a couple of photos of topless women such as those that illustrate some of the fabric wrapping techniques.

What are some of your favorite cheap chic style tips or tricks?  Where are your favorite places to get style tips?

About the Authors:
"CATERINE MILINAIRE is a journalist and photographer who has been an editor at Vogue; worked with Andy Warhol, Richard Avedon, and Diana Vreeland; and was at New York Magazine and Interview at their starts.  

CAROL TROY is a journalist and photographer whose work has appeared in Rags, Oui (where she collaborated with Helmut Newton), Condé Nast Traveler, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times.  She lives in Napa Valley."
[Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through bloggingforbooks.org for review purposes.]
A 1975 Fashion Guide Reprinted for a New Generation to Enjoy [Review] A 1975 Fashion Guide Reprinted for a New Generation to Enjoy [Review] Reviewed by The Artist Librarian on 11/17/2015 09:58:00 AM Rating: 5

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