September 30, 2014

Chic Simple

Many years ago, I discovered a series of books called Chic Simple. They were beautifully designed and wonderfully photographed and they were all edited by Kim Johnson Gross and Jeff Stone. They were sort of a primer for a way to live life, and came in sizes small, medium and large. IMG_4266

When I moved to the UK, and got rid of almost everything I owned, I de-accessioned my collection of these books. I’ve started collecting them again, and made reference to something in one of the books today, and decided to pull them out and take a wander through them.

I wore a uniform to school for most all of my pre-college years, and am never 100% confident on pulling clothes together, so the Women's Wardrobe, Work Clothes, and What Should I Wear? books are staples in my bookcase.

The small books, which are about different components are about 5x4 inches. They are packed with information, great quotes and terrific images, all of the “good” stuff. Alligator luggage, Hermès scarves, Belgian loafers…IMG_4267

The next size books are deeper dissections of clothes. They come in at about 190 pages and are filled with myriad resources.
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Each book has great examples, like how to accessorize a LBD for any occasion, IMG_4273

or what to wear to work when your office is less dressy than it used to be (or for that day you’re poking around the archives with the ghost).IMG_4289

Some of the styles are a little dated, but if you’re like me, and wear classic clothes, you can accessorize with the latest statement necklace or belt, and be completely up to date. IMG_4283

What Should I Wear: Dressing for Special Occasions has options from hopping on a plane for a trip across the pond,IMG_4285

to hopping on a yacht for a spin around the harbour.IMG_4286

This is pretty much my travel outfit.IMG_4290

The book goes through the seasons and suggests appropriate clothes for any climate or locale. IMG_4292

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The largest size books are really packed with information – about 250 pages worth! The Home book explores the various types of furniture, delineating between a Windsor chair and a Thonet chair, types of vases, sofas, lamps, etc. Information like this never goes out of style or changes. An Iittala Aalto Vase is always going to be just that.  IMG_4282

I am not exactly sure how many of these books were published, there’s no definitive list. I just pick them up at the Book Thing when I see them. I have duplicates of a few of them (ask and I will send one). You can find them on Amazon, but you have to search, because if you put in Chic Simple, you’ll get every shabby chic book ever written.

24 comments:

  1. I wore a uniform for 12 years! Took me 10 years after that to learn how to dress.

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    1. It's hard to get the hang of wearing something different every day. I'd welcome a uniform sometimes.

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  2. How funny - I hadn't thought about those books in years! I bought the women's clothes book when I was in high school. I'll have to dig it out of my parents' house. My sense of style hasn't changed much since, oh, elementary school - it really does pay to keep things simple!

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    1. They're great books. I look for them at BT all the time.

      And I agree - my style doesn't change much either!

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  3. Great stuff! I love that cream colored outfit with the loafers... only I'd nix the leopard scarf and put on an old man's necktie, instead. And add a fedora.

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  4. I also collected these books. I worked in the corporate headquarters of Barnes and Noble and I collected a wide variety of books. These were among my favorites. I only remember the small books. They were beautifully photographed and the paper quality was heavier than you would expect. I wish I had kept them but when I moved across the country (twice) I lightened my collection of books and have always regretted it.

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    1. They've held up very well over 20+ years. A lot of the information doesn't change dramatically, so you can pick and choose and update them in your mind.

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  5. how wonderful these books must be + haven't seen them before + thanks. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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    1. Now you're going to start seeing them everywhere!

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  6. I have most of the Chic Simple series. And I gave my mom and sister some of them, too. I love them!

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  7. Whenever these books were first published, the styles are as classic and current as today. I love the different stylings on the LBD for example. I would put these all to very good use!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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    1. they were first published in the 1990's.

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  8. I believe this started as a series from Instyle magazine. I bought the first book when it was released.

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    1. Did it start as the series, or did the magazine serialize the books?

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    2. I thought it started at Instyle and morphed into a book. I was just in my attic and found the large Women's Wardrobe and smaller Work Clothes Casual Dress for Serious Work.

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  9. It's funny how some things remain timeless. There are a few pieces that made me say, "hey, I own that!"

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  10. I could really use the Work Clothes book right now. I'm trying to get back into the workforce after being home with the kids and I have no idea what I should wear. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Although the books are a little dated, you should be able to come up with a lot of good strategies to find out what to wear. You can get an inexpensive copy on Amazon.

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  11. Looking up the original author, Kim Johnson Gross, might help narrow the search results. I have looked her up online a couple of times, but don't know what she's doing now. Pity. The Nursery book was a particular favorite.

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    1. She's on FB, and is still writing and styling.

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  12. I just ordered two books from Amazon. I typed Chic Simple and Gross and Stone. They came right up. Thanks for the tip. I'll probably buy a couple a month. I love getting a book in the mail.
    Karen

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