"One is not born, but rather becomes a woman." ~Simone de Beauvoir
Ok, so here's another one of my totally, completely favorite books. The Science of Sexy by Bradley Bayou, Gotham Books, 2006.
The Science of Sexy is unique not just because Bayou tackles as many different figure types as he can, but also for an unusually 'inclusive' attitude toward all sizes and shapes. He does talk about 'figure flaws' which I try to avoid because I don't feel there are really any flaws in how we're created- only bad attitudes towards it. What I LOVE is that his approach is to create visual balance with your figure through how you dress- that's my goal as well. (Starting to see why I like this book so much?)
In the first part he talks about some of his celebrity clients, goes into his strategy: 'conceal and reveal,' and helping the reader to define her style with his 'red carpet questionnaire.' All excellent stuff.
Then we're on to his 'ten commandments.' These are all very sound commandments (of course the fact that they're pretty much exactly what I preach may make me a tad prejudiced) such as choosing the proper undergarments, buying the best quality that you can afford, not attempting to force your figure into every style out there, ignoring the size and instead focusing on fit, and so on.
The part where this book veers off into the brilliant category is next: 'The Four Steps to Sexy.' (Step 1) he walks you through taking your measurements so that you can (step 2) match your shape, and then you (step 3) find your height and weight on a color coded chart, which enables you to (step 4) find your exact match out of his 48 different 'types.' This is what makes this book the most specific and precise book on personal image I've come across yet.
Most authors of books on personal image make big,sweeping statements; 'women with wide hips should wear boot cut pants,' for example. I find this disturbing because this approach fails to take into account all the other variables associated with the individuals figure. How tall is she? How long are her legs in relation to the rest of her body? Is she slim or fuller figured? All of these variables will affect how she'll look in said boot cut pants. Bayou takes on each of his 48 figure types and goes into specifically what will and won't work for each one, and why.
That's about as close as you can get to having your own stylist or image consultant without actually hiring one.