Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Always Pack a Party Dress by Amanda Brooks

Always Pack a Party Dress by Amanda Brooks ℅ Blue Rider Press
When a fashion industry legend like Amanda Brooks writes a book, it's time to take a trip to the local bookstore and get your hands on a copy as soon as possible. It's not enough that she's incredibly stylish, beautiful and witty… Amanda Brooks has worked for a range of notable brands like Hogan, Frederic Fekkai, Tuleh and Barneys in addition to consulting with brands including DVF and Tory Burch. She's been photographed for Vogue more times than you can count and written for numerous fashion publications. Her experience in the fashion industry is what many girls dream of. If that's your dream too, then you definitely need to get this book. Always Pack a Party Dress is a memoir of sorts, but told in a series of short stories. The author encourages reading the stories at your leisure and even in no particular order, however there's an epic journey here should you choose to read it start to finish.

Firstly, let me say that if you haven't read Brooks's first book I Love Your Style, then add that to your reading list as well. These books are excellent companions to each other. In I Love Your Style, Brooks lays out everything you need to help you define your own personal style and have fun with it. In Always Pack a Party Dress, she gives you insight into how she's learned these lessons, her amazing career in the fashion industry and what it means to be one of the few fashion heavy hitters in New York City. Sharing everything from how she first met Patrick Demarchelier in a restaurant to the reasons behind her swift departure after just 1 year as Fashion Director at Barneys and everything in between, this is a real behind-the-scenes look at a life most of us only ever dream of. Brooks is very candid, sharing details of the celebs she's met (Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Mick Jagger & Madonna to name a few), tales of her relationships with important designers, interactions with Anna Wintour, fashion mistakes, personal struggles and priceless guidance from mentors & friends like Francisco Costa and Diane Von Furstenburg.

From a professional point of view, some of the advice is invaluable. There's even a chapter about finding balance and happiness as a freelancer that covers items such as how to charge clients for meetings and how to determine your day rates. The fun fashion stuff is admittedly much more fun and my particular favorite part of the book is the chapter that details her process of preparing for the Met Gala every time she attended. It's an interesting insight into what it takes to attend such a high-profile, black-tie fashion event and though I knew the prep would be intense, for Brooks it was beyond my expectations entirely… Without giving away too much, I'll just say that for me, it validated my spending 3 solid days shopping (running around like a chicken with my head cut off) looking for the perfect accessories & outfits to wear to fashion shows a few years back and every taxi I've overpaid for just so I could wear high heels to dinner. I also love how Brooks talks about the creative process she applies to dressing for various occasions. She really thinks about what she wears and takes it seriously, whether it was during her youth when she shopped at Zara and Contempo Casuals or later in her career when she could borrow from Chanel. She seems to put equal emphasis on her look no matter how high or low the budget, showing that it's not necessary to be super rich or connected to be stylish and invested in your appearance.

Always Pack a Party Dress is a must-read for anyone who aims to work in the fashion world, loves fashion and style in general or needs a little entrepreneurial inspiration. Amanda Brooks is relatable, has a great sense of humor and has provided an invaluable resource by sharing her experience, advice from her connections and her own wisdom. I loved this book and plan on keeping it on the shelf, close at hand for reference in the future. 

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