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Personal Style by the Book

Posted by Anmarie Bowler Fashion blogger

23rd Feb 2015

I find second-hand shopping wildly inspiring; the way in which charity shop clothing hangs on the rails one unique piece after another - patterns clashing, colours mis-matching, textures rioting. I also turn to people-watching and exhibitions for new ways to wear old stuff. Like most followers of fashion, I leaf through magazines for style sparks, but somewhere along the way the glossies lost their shimmer. I find their pretty pages unrealistic and repetitive, not to mention expensive in the extreme- £4 a pop adds up.

So, some time ago I started a collection of fashion books, nearly all bought second-hand at my favourite charity shops. My personal fashion library now numbers more than 50 volumes, many purchased for LESS than the price of a fashion magazine. These books provide me with endless ideas for re-styling and accessorising. Books about style are building my fashion foundation - more than just a wearer of clothing, I've become a student of style.

Three of my favourite fashion books came from three of my favourite Oxfam shops.  

Shoes, Fashion and Fantasy by Collin McDowell with preface by Manolo Blahnik bought at the wonderful Oxfam shop on Marylebone Road, examines everything from shoe making techniques to the contemporary cult of footwear. The photos and drawings are large and exciting.  

If shoes move you, mark your calendar! Opening 13 June, The Victoria & Albert Museum will host Shoes: Pain & Pleasure This exhibit promises to be a real kick for high heel lovers and flat fans alike.    

Go to the Oxfam Online Shop

I found Street, The Nylon Book of Global Style, at my local Oxfam in Ealing Broadway. This fashion book provides photo after after photo of 'REAL' people in real clothes, styled with imagination and idiosyncrasy. This is like people-watching in book form.

I return to this book often. When I buy new charity shop tops or trousers, I dive into to Street for both ideas and the courage to wear things my way.

Finally, The Fashion Book by Phaidon, bought at the Oxfam Shop in Hammersmith, is my style encyclopedia, an A to Z of photographers, models, designers and taste makers. This book is connecting the dots for me - filling in the blanks in my growing but gappy knowledge of all things sartorial.

Look for fashion books in all your local charity shops, whether old or new, they are packed with inspiration and interesting ideas. Also, check out your local library for style books. So, start style swotting and hit the books!                  

Go to the Oxfam Online Shop

To find your local Oxfam shop visit the Shop Finder, or take a browse through the Oxfam Online Shop's book section to see what you can find.

Blog post written by Anmarie Bowler

Fashion blogger

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