Book Review: "How to Be a Budget Fashionista"

I haven't read a book for fun for a year. Seriously. My idea of "fun" reading for last summer was "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down," which was a depressing yet good read (and I highly recommend it). This summer, I really don't want to touch anything too heavy. The second year of law school is when they work you to death, and true to the maxim, my mental circuitboard was completely fried by the time finals were over. The only print publications I wanted to read were pretty glossies like InStyle and Lucky. For once in my life, I really didn't want to think much at all.

All of a sudden I remembered, oh yeah, I've got a 200+ page book to review! I've been an avid reader of Ms. Kathryn Finney's posts on her website, "The Budget Fashionista." When she offered fashion bloggers a chance to review her new book, "How to Be a Budget Fashionista," I jumped at it. But between the time I requested the book and the time I actually received, it, I started to question my decision. I've just been burnt to a crisp from memorizing hundreds of pages of notes on everything from legal ethics to insider trading, so I have good reasons to be intimidated by "Fashionista's" page count. I didn't know how long it would take me to read it, or whether the advice contained therein would be of any use to seasoned bargained shoppers such as myself (modesty be damned).

As it turns out, plowing through 222 pages was no drudgery at all. The font is big, but the book itself isn't. Within the 2 hours after I tore open the package, I read more than a quarter of the book already. I finished the rest of it whenever I had time over the next 2 days. After reading the first few pages, I knew that me and my book were going to get along juuuust fine. Ms. Finney knows how to establish rapport with her audience in an intelligent and humourous manner, drawing from personal shopping anecdotes and "help!" letters from readers that we can all relate to. She also incorporates interviews with industry insiders to put readers "in the know."

The very beginning of the book is perfect for the recovering shopaholic who is absolutely clueless about how to start saving money. As I read on, I recognized a lot of material that was lifted directly from the TBF website. However, it would be a grave mistake for long-time bargain hunters to dismiss the rest of the book as a rehash of what they already know. It is equally mistaken to say, "there's nothing new, I saw it on the website already." In fact, I learned a thing or two, or three, as demonstrated by the complimentary Lexis-Nexis tabs I stuck onto the pages.

Also, the book is more than just a print version of the web content. The "old" material is organized into a logical "big picture" structure, and serves as an intro to caboodles of new and intriguing information. Case in point: before I read this book, I had no idea that you can make money as a mystery shopper. Even though I don't intend to make money this way, it's still good to know I have that option. Additionally, my knowledge on consignment stores and thrifting have certainly been expanded.

I like how Ms. Finney's book is comprehensive without cramming too much down our throats. My favorite parts are the tables, especially the ones that match up expensive designer brands with cheap (or at least cheaper) alternatives. The tables get the point across without being wordy like me. For those who prefer the "skipity hop" reading method, the important parts you need to know are prominently highlighted as "budget fashionista tips." Furthermore, the ending wraps up nicely and reminds readers of the golden rules. The book is a fun and easy read, but easy does not equal to lazy: it covers a lot of ground. Being a Budget Fashionista is more than knowing how to save money--it's saving money AND looking fabulous. Therefore, Ms. Finney also discussed beauty tips, clothing care, styling, how to tell the Real McCoy from knockoffs, the importance of having clothes (including undergarmets) that fit, and so on. Speaking of fit, I'm usually skeptical of the one-size-fits-all label, but I do think that "How to Be a Budget Fashionista" is as one-size-fits-all as a guidebook can be. Ms. Finney covers cheap alteratives for different style types, different body types, and different lifestyles/budgets. Fashionistas of all ages can appreciate the book.

Finally, the book is sold for an affordable $10 on Amazon. A movie ticket costs about that much, but it offers fewer hours of entertainment and you can't keep the movie. As I've mentioned before, I think this book is perfect for someone who is starting out with bargain shopping, but it certainly has a lot to offer to bargain vets, especially those who want to move on to higher-end merchandise. It's an organized and fun read, and I know that I'll pull it out time and again as a reference. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I hope you will too.

Happy reading!


BrownEyedGirl said...

Thanks so much for the review! I am hoping I'll be able to put aside my no shopping online rule(just this once..lol) so that I can get this book! Hearing your great review makes me want it even more :). Now all I need is some extra cash!!! :)

Marcy said...

Hm.... I might have to add this to my summer reading list.

I'm never sure what to think of the whole Mystery Shopper deal. A friend of mine looked into it once and said that it wasn't worth it. I don't know.... I guess that's another reason to pick up the book. ; )

Sales Rack Raider said...

You're welcome, BrownEyedGirl! Maybe if you can get a coupon for a bookstore like Borders, you won't have to break your no online shopping rule (unless you want to, of course). Hope you can get that cash!

Marcy--according to the book, there are some shady mystery shopper companies. Maybe the legit ones would be better, but I'm not particularly interested anyways...