ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Starlets and stilettos are filling up New York for fashion week. And while we have no runway show to bring you, we do have some reading suggestions. Is this NPR or what? For our series Three Books, here are three books with the theme fashion from young adult novelist Melissa Walker.
Ms. MELISSA WALKER (Novelist): One of the biggest myths about the fashion world is that it's only for people who value lavish extravagance. Not true. Even the designs in the runway shows going on this week are returning to simple lines and more affordable looks. These three books will inspire you to find your true personal style, which has more to do with your sense of self than your bank balance. Marketed to teenagers, Erika Stalder's "Fashion 101" has more style information in its 128 pages than a gigantic September issue of Harper's Bazaar.
The clear prose and fascinating tidbits - did you know that the first sports bra was created from a jockstrap - make it a riveting read for aspiring stylistas of any age. Plus, learn why the military has a bigger influence on fashion than Anna Wintour and Tyra Banks put together. From underwear to outerwear, this is the ultimate primer for a newbie Project Runway fan. Once you've got your fashion vocabulary down, you're ready to meet Jennifer Brandt Taylor in the book "Vintage L.A."
A Hollywood girl through and through, Taylor knows how to find movie star glam even when you're short for cash. At age 16, she started designing clothes and self-published her own magazine, "Pesky Meddling Girls." All the while, she was gathering information on secret spots and riveting back stories from her celebrity-filled hometown. Taylor's reverential glee for all things iconic makes her the perfect tour guide through both the undiscovered and the infamous aspects of West Coast style.
And, finally, Diana Vreeland, the legendary editor-in-chief of Vogue. She knows that stylish is as stylish does, the only real elegance is in the mind. If you've got that, the rest really comes from it, she says in the pages of her memoir, "DV." I want to be a fly on the bright red floral wall of her celebrated Manhattan apartment. In the book, Ms. Vreeland tosses off inspirational gems like, we all need a splash of bad taste. It's hearty. It's healthy. It's physical. And I'm a great believer in vulgarity, if it's got vitality. Vreeland invites everyone who has a sense of personal style into her opulent world, where she celebrates ingenuity over affluence on every page. And under all that fabulous frock talk, her memoir reveals an extraordinary affection for her husband and a heart more dazzling than anything in her immense closet.
So whether you want to drop the history of the miniskirt into your water-cooler conversation, or just spend some time with three authors who understand that true style does have substance, these three books will inspire you to find your inner chic without ruining your credit.
SIEGEL: That's Melissa Walker who is the author of the "Violet on the Runway" series for young adults. And the books that she recommended are "DV" by Diana Vreeland, "Vintage L.A." by Jennifer Brandt Taylor and "Fashion 101" by Erika Stalder. You can find lots more suggestions for three books on a single theme at npr.org.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
This is NPR, National Public Radio.
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