link to 1979 magazine precis on this book
Actually, it really isn't about the money
"I am writing this book for women like me who have too little time & too little money, but an overwhelming desire to look their best. This is all about giving yourself a new look - a new figure, a new face, new confidence to face the world": Leslie Field: Look Like a Million, 1978. More Leslie details:
How she did things with not much money
- Leslie's code of living was to simplify everything, to err on the side of understatement.
- Simplicity doesn't mean poverty, less is more.
- It took her a long time to understand just how few clothes most elegant women have.
Leslie took a wealthy woman's advice to heart
She once interviewed a great beauty and socialite called Gloria Guinness, who was wearing a black shirt, black skirt, and a black cardigan draped over her shoulders (plus a luminous, expensive rope of pearls!).
Gloria gave three pieces of advice which Leslie had followed ever since:
- if you can only wear one colour, make it black and no-one will ever know if it's couture or chain store
- always put your money into shoes & handbags. Leather never lies, & it has to be good. People look first at your face, and then at your feet
- buy clothes that you love, & wear them over & over again. Overwhelm with the simplicity of your appearance. Black goes anywhere, anytime. For the day, a black shirt & skirt, at night a simple black dress, should form the basis of any wardrobe."
She did mix her expensive things, like boots, with cheaper stuff
Leslie encouraged people to have timeless clothes, clothes that they loved, but if you do invest money in clothes, shoes, jewellery, etc, they should continue to give you pleasure for a long time. However she also recommended looking in, for example, teens sections of stores if you're petite, boys and men's area for outdoor gear including tees, shirts, jackets, jeans. In other words, she had an open mind about what and where she bought.
And she had her own trick for making her clothes look, different
Leslie pulled her own wardrobe of mostly separates together with an assortment of belts and vests.
She looked after her belongings
- she mended, washed, (and hand washed quite a few things!)
- ironed her clothes (always iron inside out) so that they were ready to wear
- she polished her shoes and bags with neutral polish to keep them looking good
- she used a dressmaker to make any alterations on new clothes, or to modify existing clothes.
- and, I love this, it's something that I have always done, she kept a button box, where she stored any buttons from clothes which had had their day. She often changed the buttons on chain store clothes, which made them look less cheap
- Leslie learnt how to do sewing repairs, she found it relaxing, & had a wee sewing kit. I got mine from a $2 shop some years ago, & then inherited a friend's as well.
She used everything, for years
- her shoes & bags lasted her for years
- she wore the same jewellery everyday. She even recommended buying a knock-off version of her Cartier watch, with a black leather strap. She felt that jewellery should be personal, and suggested to either buy costume, or save up your money to buy a few things to last for ever
- at the time of writing her book , she was still wearing a shirt that was 17 years old, about 5 times a year, some of her skirts were 5 years old, plus she had kept a small pouchette purse from when she was 13, and still used it.
When she was younger, and poor, she dyed all her clothes black, which she later felt had been a gloomy look. (Sophia Loren had done this too in her young, very poor days) A friend and I used to have an annual dye session of turquoise and purple clothes to keep their colour, and for many years I would dye my "blacks" in the washing machine to refresh them. Leslie also recommended dyeing all your whites with Dylon white when their colour wasn't looking too good. You can't dye all fabrics, that's for sure, but sometimes a bit of dye can really perk things up.
It worked for all budgets
The point is, you could read a book like this and follow all the suggestions with expensive belongings, or you skip those, follow the advice but you could be prudent with your money, and go the cheaper way. Either way, you would still look great, and have style.