Book review: Unlock Your Style by Nikki Parkinson

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 Permalink

Regular readers of my blog will know that I avoid non-fiction at all costs. I’m not sure why. I can’t recall any incidents of childhood trauma which could have resulted in my aversion. It’s possibly as simple as the fact that I read to ‘escape’ which means there’s no place for reality on my bookshelves. Perhaps therapy would help. 😉

Either way, I broke my no-non-fiction commandment earlier this week when I picked up Unlock Your Style  by Nikki Parkinson.

Unlock Your StyleFor those not in the know, Nikki’s blog Styling You,  won the Australian Writers’ Centre (then Sydney Writers’ Centre) inaugural Best Australian Blog award in 2011. Nikki – at the time – was transitioning from her previous life as a journalist then personal stylist – to full time style blogger.

Which is a long-winded way of saying she writes well and knows her stuff.

But more important than all of that and her real claim to fame is that we grew up together – back when she was Nicole and I was Debbie *shudder*.

We attended the same primary and high schools and were part of the same little (obviously elite!) social circle. Nikki talks quite a bit about her family and her childhood in Unlock Your Style  which was a little surreal as it was all very familiar. (And of course, when making my seachange a couple of years ago, I moved back to the beachside town neighbouring our childhood hometown of Maryborough.)

I introduced my mother to Nikki’s blog (and FB page) a couple of years ago and am now regularly regaled with quotes and advice from Styling You.  I don’t mind too much, but in my new little world (and my current frame of mind) I’m far-removed from the person who once cared much about the way she looked. Of course Nikki’s blog is about far more than clothes, fashion, beauty and so forth; as my wardrobe was reorganised by my mother who recently purchased a heap of thin velvety clothes hangers recommended on Styling You!

As she’s become such a fangirl I bought mum Unlock Your Style  for Christmas and she whipped through it quickly. Apparently she’s going back to do some of the exercises / worksheets, but she suggested I read it before she do that. (Perhaps she’s secretive about her answers.)

I have to admit I was reticent for the reasons above: my usual dislike of non-fiction; and lack of interest in anything style-related at this point of my life. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Unlock your Style  for a number of reasons:

  1. It was an easy read. Simple, to the point, and nothing overly complicated to befuddle even the most stylistically-inept readers such as yours truly!
  2. Nikki’s voice shone through. I have visions of writers ‘losing’ their voice after numerous sanitising edits but her writing was accessible and very friendly. It was as if we were chatting over a meal or few champagnes.
  3. Nikki is very pragmatic in her approach – she throws out the rulebook when it comes to body shape, weight and colours etc. As someone trying to learn to like the body they’re in, Nikki’s book goes a long way to promoting self-acceptance and positive body image. No matter what.
  4. The book is really practical:
    – it steps you through EVERYTHING – from auditing your wardrobe to shopping to dressing for different occasions as well as talking hair and make-up
    – it offers exercises (and not the arduous kind) at the end of each chapter
    – she caters to all readers, no matter what your budget or style preferences
    – Nikki actually lists brands and suppliers for readers to try.
  5. I learnt stuff. Many of us will know a bit or even a lot of what Nikki’s included but then there’s stuff on the less-discussed essentials. I learnt, for example, there are fabric types like modal, ponte and bamboo which breathe and don’t need ironing.

The only negative for me, and it’s not really a negative is that – while I like the inclusion of recommendations in the book (brands and products) – it means that the book may have a relatively limited lifespan and is very much geared to Aussie audiences. Perhaps however there are plans for world domination an overseas release reflecting international brands, or perhaps updated editions are on the cards.

Anyhoo, time to return the book to my mother now but I’m sure there’s a lesson in this for me about stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying books I would normally avoid!

Unlock Your Style by Nikki Parkinson (and accompanying guides), published by Hachette Australia is currently available. And if you check out Nikki’s blog (link above) you can check out her launches which have been occurring all over the country!

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