Book Review: Looking Good…Every Day by Nancy Nix-Rice

Readers,

Have you ever said, “This is the book I wish I had written”?

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I’ve already begun to highlight and flag my copy.

Well, Looking Good…Every Day is the book that addresses just about everything about wardrobe that drove me, in my extreme frustration, to create Getting Things Sewn to identify and solve my many sewing and clothing dilemmas.

I don’t really wish I’d written this book; I just feel as if Nancy Nix-Rice read my mind and then wrote it for me.

I’m skeptic both by nature and by training, having read thousands of critical book reviews when I selected materials for my library system, so it was out of character for me to pre-order this book from Palmer/Pletsch. But when I squinted hard at the contents page reproduced in miniature on the Palmer/Pletsch website to make out the chapter headings and descriptions, I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is what I’m trying to accomplish with that chart I made!”

My chart

My chart

That primitive little chart, composed of scrawled sticky notes arranged in columns to show the elements of wardrobe design and how they drive sewing projects and wardrobe-buying, looked to be the very rough draft of Looking Good…Every Day.

What I wanted my chart to do was help me see both individual elements of wardrobe and their relationships to each other in a way that would help me design garments and outfits I loved that would work for me. I’ve read lots of fashion advice, but not much that fits the pieces into a larger whole. It was exciting to think someone much more knowledgeable and experienced had done this already.

Monday I got home from my latest week of househunting in Ohio to find Looking Good…Every Day waiting for me. And although bleary-eyed from my travels, I could hardly stop turning the pages, seeing answers at last to age-old questions and wardrobe dilemmas in almost every chapter.

Nix-Rice’s orientation to wardrobe design is so intuitive it would be easy to overlook how ingenious it is. With a concept she calls “points of connection” she leads readers to identify their own coloring, figure type, proportions, face shape and more as the basis of their most flattering looks. I find that a lot of fashion advice is imposed from the outside onto us poor lumps of imperfection.  Nancy Nix-Rice seeks to bring out what’s wonderful and interesting within each of us and then to find those styles that best support us. It’s a very positive approach–and also grounded in practicality.

The first “point of connection” Nix-Rice covers, in Chapter 1, is skin, hair, and eye coloring. Most of us are familiar with the concepts of warm and cool coloring and that seasonal  color analysis that was so popular thirty years ago. Some people are textbook examples of a seasonal coloring and can be identified easily, but other people benefit from a professional color analysis. Nix-Rice explains what a color analysis is and what it can do, and walks us readers through a typical session.

In all my "contrasting Autumn" glory, complete with a Thanksgiving apple pie. (From 2003 or 2004)

In all my “contrasting Autumn” glory, complete with a Thanksgiving apple pie. (From 2003 or 2004)

I had a color analysis myself, coincidentally from the stylist for this book, Ethel Harms, back in 2002. Ethel pegged me as a “contrasting Autumn,” which seems obvious now, but wasn’t to me then. When I got home I weeded my wardrobe of cool, medium-intensity colors, saw how warm deep or pale colors work great for me, and have made much better color choices ever since.

Color and image consultant Ethel Harms put together this palette for me. It's been a great help!

Color and image consultant Ethel Harms put together this palette for me in 2002. It’s been a great help ever since.

Chapter 2, “Silhouette Connections,” shows you how to make and interpret a body graph. I’ve done this exercise, which you can see here and here using the instructions in another Palmer/Pletsch book, Fit for Real People. I know I have a triangle figure type, but using this book may help me reap even more information from this exercise.

Doing a body graph

Doing a body graph

Chapters 3-8 discuss other “points of connection” to train readers to understand body scale, vertical and horizontal lines in clothing, figure challenges, face shape, lifestyle and personal style.

Chapters 9-12 explain wardrobe-editing and -building, capsules, and accessories.

Chapters 10-19 cover a multitude of topics: underwear, makeup, strategic shopping, closet-organizing, having a dressmaker or sewing yourself, altering, and travel wardrobes.

What a lot of territory to cover!

Each chapter explains principles, illustrating with a wealth of examples using real women. You may have noticed: this is far from the norm in style advice books.

It is also unusual–okay, unheard of in my experience–for a style book to encourage readers to take everything with a grain of salt. In the foreword Pati Palmer writes,

Along your personal style journey, be a skeptic. There is plenty of misinformation out there:

–“They say…”

–“Everybody should…”

–“This season’s Must-Haves are…”

Don’t believe anything you hear about style–even this book–unless you can see the results with your own two eyes.

I’m doing that! I’m already off to a good start. I have done a body graph and seen the merits in those results. I’ve had a color analysis, and can attest to years of  valuable results from that investment. I’ve had more aha’s along the way, about silhouettes, and accessories, and ready-to-wear that work or don’t work for me. There’s more to learn, I know.

How does this scarf work? Does it have to be so hard?

How does this scarf work? Does accessorizing have to be so hard?

But I also want move to a new level, putting all my learning together and building on it. That may be where this book will really prove itself. I have felt that I’ve gotten a handle on one aspect of wardrobe and style only to feel I’ve lost my grip on another. This book seems to integrate principles and practices in a way I haven’t seen before.  I’m eager to put the rest of this book to the test.

Looking Good…Every Day is a toolkit for wardrobe decision-making and design like I’ve never had before. And that got me thinking. In one of those decluttering books I read recently, Live More, Want Less, Mary Carlomagno describes clutter as “piles of delayed decisions.” Well, often those decisions are delayed because I don’t have a sound basis for deciding!

With this book in hand I can analyze my piles of delayed sewing and wardrobe decisions with a fresh eye–and possibly make most of that clutter disappear–for good.

Much better!

Much better!

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One thought on “Book Review: Looking Good…Every Day by Nancy Nix-Rice

  1. After taking an 8 Hour Blazer workshop with Susan Pletsch back in 1982, I was hooked on all things Palmer Pletsch. Glad you are finding this latest book helpful as I am going to order it myself. I too had a color consultation 30 years ago and try to stick with “my colors” ! Need to do a body graph now.
    Marguerite
    PS happy house hunting!

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