Written by Esther Drill, Heather McDonald. Written and Illustrated by Rebecca Odes (of the awesome band Love Child)
You know that feeling when you create an outfit and something's wrong? It looks mostly fun, sexy, or smart, but there's just something that's throwing it off? The jeans are maybe too modern. The tights don't quite go with the skirt. The platform shoes look good with jeans, but maybe not with Capri pants. The Looks Book can help.
Originally, when I spotted The Looks Book in the office pile of review copies, I exclaimed, "This looks retarded." And truthfully, it is pretty stupid. The book often explains the extremely obvious, like that some women get boob jobs in order to have larger breasts, that glasses can dramatically change your look, and that "leg length often depends on body height." But, filled with interesting tidbits and cute testimonials, it's still fun to read, especially on the toilet.
While excessively graphic-designed, the book does have a lot of positives. It comprehensively explains beauty through the ages (showing the reader how fickle beauty trends can be), the power and manipulation of the fashion industry, and most fun, it helps you create a look. I'm not saying I turn to The Looks Book to tell me how to dress, but when that otherwise smokin' outfit just seems a little off, The Looks Book is a great resource. With a 55-page spread on looks from the Bombshell, to the Vamp/Goth, to the Future Babe, to the Chic Geek, the book is an inspiration for edgy clothing combinations... and is insanely useful when you're confronted with Halloween, any kind of costume party, or a formal event. It helps you create a style that's cohesive rather than confused.
Honestly, I'm giving my copy of The Looks Book to my high-school freshman sister for Christmas, but having consulted it at least 20 times, I'm having a hard time saying goodbye. (I will be Xeroxing the Vamp/Goth pages so that I can remember how to do the smoky eyeshadow look.) But I think this book goes best in the hands of young girls because it promotes an acceptance of their bodies and teaches them about body hair and bulimia when their parents don't. Most importantly, it helps to prevent girls from making the same mistake I did; wearing red pants and a Richard Marx T-shirt to the first day of sixth grade. KATIE SHIMER