Fierce Style by Christian Siriano with Rennie Dyball
I used to watch and love Project Runway, back when it was on Bravo. But I also think Project Runway peaked after season four. Absolutely nothing can top Christian Siriano’s glorious win. For those of you unfortunate enough to not know of him, Siriano is a wickedly young fashion designer that’s just as outrageous as his distressingly gorgeous and romantic clothes. He’s pint-size (I do believe a fellow contestant brought him into the workroom in a tote bag at one point during the show) and fabulous. When I picked up his book to shelve it at my local library during my volunteer shift, I didn’t hesitate–it immediately came back with me to hide with my bag until my shift was done.
Fierce Style is Siriano’s guide to being, well, “fierce”, which Siriano uses to mean “the high point of being flawless and fabulous”. This doesn’t just mean dressing well; it also means being confident in yourself and taking chances without being reckless. Essentially, it’s being you as loud as you want to be.
I like to pretend that I’m stylish, and I do, I guess, have a style–military subversion–and I have plenty of don’ts, from Crocs to leggings to skirts and dresses. (Quite lovely on other girls, but it’s drag, and not the fun kind, for me.) But whatever figure I strike in the autumn and winter in my military coats and boots (Captain Jack, eat your heart out!), it’s often difficult to translate into summer, although a new vest and my trusty (and broken) pocketwatch have been making things easier this summer. I was hoping Siriano’s fashion wisdom would help me try and figure out how to translate my style, such as it is, into warmer weather. And in a way, it did.
Unlike other fashion books which I’ve flipped through which offer strict rules and regulations on dressing (but I like stripes!) and what should be in your wardrobe, Siriano and Rennie Dyball, his co-writer, focus more on discovering your personal sense of style and building a wardrobe around it. While he does offer a don’t list (which, naturally, includes Uggs and other fashion crimes against humanity), it’s about the person in question and not the fashion. Even in a chapter about ignoring what other people say and being yourself as loud as you want, he reassures people who are less outgoing that being yourself isn’t about being loud–it’s what you’re comfortable with. Instead of just a list of “what every woman should wear”, Siriano wants to help you figure out what you should wear, since fashion is a form of self-expression. I can’t tell you how much I loved that openness, especially in light of other fashion books.
Siriano also offers advice on shopping for garments on any budget, which are mostly just common sense–invest in quality, try everything on before you buy it, and Target is amazing. He then devotes a chapter to living fiercely, which is about keeping your head above water in the real world while remaining fabulous, which includes a solid work ethic and faking it until you make it (which, admittedly, I’m still iffy on, even if I do it myself). I thought this chapter was interesting. I have to admit, I was expecting a mildly frivolous coffee table book, and while it’s not much deeper than that, it’s still nice to see a book nominally about fashion to be about being the best you can be–and not a best that someone else has selected for you. Fabulous. (Or, as Christian would say, fierce.) The last chapter focuses more on Siriano’s inspirations in order to help the reader find what inspires them… I guess. It’s mostly an excuse for Siriano to talk about his inspiration, especially for design.
However, this is very much a coffee table book–almost ridiculously easy to breeze through (I read it in a morning), and it’s clearly geared for such a use, with square and deliciously glossy pages covered with fashion and cute pictures of the author. The writing is quite light and can be twee, including the glossary of catchphrases and terms, which, while useful, manages to adorn every page with a sprinkling of pink asterisks. And while he makes it very clear in that glossary that he doesn’t mean it or intentionally uses it in a derogatory manner, the term “hot tranny mess” can definitely get irritating. This is definitely not something to go out of your way to read, but if you like Christian Siriano or want to start actually cultivating a style for yourself, it’s a nice and breezy read. In fact, I think it would make a perfect gift for any awkward teenagers in your life to nudge them towards a little confidence and dressing a little better; it never asks them to be someone they’re not.
Bottom line: Christian Siriano’s Fierce Style is a fluffy coffee table fashion book that stands out by recognizing that one size doesn’t fit all and talking not only style, but substance. If you like Siriano or want to develop your style a little, this is a cute read; otherwise, reserve it for that teenager in your life that needs a little confidence boost–it never asks you to be someone you’re not.
I rented this book from the public library.