Last week I shared a list of my favorite style books. Following is a list of style books in my library that were not worth the money.
Esquire: The Big Black Book. These annuals are really more magazine than a book. I have the same problem with these annuals that I have with Esquire magazine; they are heavy on ads for trendy clothing and light on good advice. It’s a shame that the current magazine isn’t more like the Esquire of eighty years ago.
The Handbook of Style: A Man’s Guide to Looking Good, The Editors of Esquire Magazine (2009). This little book from Esquire magazine is a lot more useful than the big black books, but it does not offer anything unique that isn’t already presented elsewhere in more interesting fashion.
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab 5’s Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better and Living Better, Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez (2004). Carson Kressley’s fashion advice is dubious at best: “Black flip-flops look chic with almost everything, and you can wear them all summer long. I once sported a $3.50 pair with a couture suit. On CNN, no less.”
The Indispensable Guide to Classic Men’s Clothing, Josh Karlen & Christopher Sulavik (1999). Unlike some of the books in my list from last week, I have not found this book to be “indispensable.” It is just a wall of text with a few black line illustrations.
I’ll conclude with one book that is on my wish list. Woody Hochswender’s Men in Style: The Golden Age of Fashion from Esquire (1993) is a reference book of illustrations and editorial copy from Esquire magazines of the 1930s to the 1950s. Unfortunately the book is out of print and has become highly collectible. Nice copies fetch about three hundred fifty dollars. Even at that price, it’s the only book on this list that is worth the money.