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book club: the style mentors

why audrey hepburn and agyness deyn are way more similar than you think.

by: ali hoffman

November 14 2012

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"My look is attainable. Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large sunglasses, and the little sleeveless dresses."--Audrey Hepburn Is there a difference between stylish and trendy? Fashion historian Elyssa Dimant definitely thinks so, and she has little interest in the latter. In her new book The Style Mentors, which profiles more than 80 of the most fashionable women throughout history, Diamant shows no interest in predicting the next fad or It Girl. Instead, her focus--as she stipulates in the book's introduction--lies in "certain overarching styles that have endured, extracting new elements from each era and churning out icons that that allow each fashion momentum and gravitas." Sounds complicated? Don't worry--it's not.

 After naming the eight signature looks of female style mentors throughout history-- icon, maverick, bohemian, gamine, siren, minimalist, rocker, and classicist--Diamant dedicates a chapter to each, documenting the history of each, the women who exemplify that particular style most, and the key pieces one needs to incorporate the look into their own wardrobe. Though boasting enough amazing imagery that it could easily hold its own on our coffee table, the text is much too good to gloss over. Diamant writes with an academic clarity and a succinct tone. Take, for example, her chapter on "Gamines," which she introduces by personifying the style: "She wears tailored pants, fitted tops, and flat, conservative shoes…She is androgynous: simultaneously girlish and a tomboy. She is demurs, coy, and sweet." From there, Diamant delves into history, referencing every iconic gamine from Katharine Hepburn and Twiggy, to Charlotte Gainsbourg and Agyness Deyn. Basically, this is the ideal study guide to dressing timelessly fashionable, whether your style icon is Alison Mosshart or Ali McGraw.  

Get your own copy of The Style Mentors here.

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