Retro Chick Reviews : The Well-Dressed Lady’s Pocket Guide

Today I’m taking a peek inside a book I’ve had sitting around to review for so long I can’t even remember when I got it!

The Well-Dressed Lady’s Pocket Guide is a teeny little book, though personally I would say slightly more than pocket sized, maybe a large patch coat pocket!

Although the book comes with a picture of Grace Kelly on the cover, and film stars are used throughout the book, it is a book about “classic” dressing, rather than “vintage” dressing.

Book

The book starts with a discussion of the female form and how to recognise your body shape. It is at great pains to point out that extreme thinness and a waif-like body are not prerequisites for elegance and beauty.

The remainder of the book is dedicated to a detailed discussion of each “essential” item in a woman’s wardrobe, from dresses through to jewellery.

Book1

I found the book very interesting to read, mostly for it’s brief insight into the history of each wardrobe item at the start of each chapter. By history we’re talking a discussion of wearing of dresses in the Middle Ages and scarves in Ancient Egypt. Proper History.

It also has handy descriptions of different styles. In the blouse section I was particularly interested in the collar shapes section, as that is the kind of detail that many people no longer know. What is a jabot or chelsea collar and the difference between a polo and turtle neck jumper.

In my opinion it fell down a little when it moved on to it’s stated goal of telling you how to dress appropriately for occasions and reintroducing the lost art of dressing well.

“The key is to judge each office by its own rules” and “when it comes to tights, judge each outfit on its merits” aren’t particularly helpful unless you already have an understanding of those rules and merits, though it does go on to attempt to give some advice in each instance it sometimes feels like the author is shying away from giving too much in the way of strict advice, though in other places has no fear of dismissing certain items such as scarves worn as tops or embellished jeans as something that should never be worn under any circumstances.

BOOK2

The book finishes with a handy capsule wardrobe guide and tips in storing your clothes. Again, it is somewhat vague advising you to judge what style is most appropriate to you by answering the questions “What age are you? Do you work in a smart office or are you based from home? Are you a professional or a stay at home mother? And what is your budget?” sadly it doesn’t go into any detail as to what you should do with the answers to those questions once you have them. If I am 18 or 38 what is the effect on the style of clothing the author recommends I should chose? I do love capsule wardrobe guides for allowing you to spot gaps in your wardrobe, so it’s a handy chapter. Most Women these days have wardrobes stuffed with clothes and nothing to wear, but a good capsule wardrobe at the centre of it should mean you always have an emergency go to outfit.

I always thought of myself as a classic dresser with a twist, I loved the elegance of film stars like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, and it was one of a multitude of things that led me more into the world of “vintage” and my current style. I tend to think that most of the people we think of as truly elegant follow those rules as set out in books like these, but put their own stamp on things and still manage to have their own unique and unmistakable style. The problem with any guide to how to dress, is that inevitably misses those little individual touches. You can’t TELL someone to add individuality with a scarf, or it’s not individual.

A Well-Dressed Lady’s Pocket Guide is currently £7.59 on Amazon, and I think overall it’s a cute addition to your fashion library, especially for it’s potted history of each item in your wardrobe. It doesn’t contain all the answers, but then what does? (Tip, this one, very nearly!)


If you fancy investing in a copy as gift, or for that fashion history then clicking on the link above will earn me a (very) few pennies from Amazon which I will most likely spend on cocktails. If you think I shouldn’t be so frivolous then feel free to buy it elsewhere.

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