Tell Us Everything, Fashion Consultant Amanda Brooks
The fashion world knows Amanda Brooks and, although you may not know her name, you've likely seen her - on the pages of the J.Crew catalog; appearing in a TOD'S ad campaign, and sporadically being featured in fashion magazines and on society pages. The former creative director of Tuleh, Vogue writer, and consultant to top designers recently published her first book: "I Love Your Style," a conversational style guide that mixes personal history with lessons from style icons. Brooks' writing is down to earth, yet she can't help but come off as the cool, in-the-know sister. She cites examples from styles worn by her famous friends and other fashion icons she admires using photos of herself and others at A-list parties looking great and daring to be different.
She was born into it: Raised in NY and Palm Beach, her mother's bridesmaid dresses were designed by Lilly Pulitzer. After Brooks' book was released Sept. 9 she made appearances at top boutiques across the country. Channel threw her two parties, Tod's threw three and Diane Von Furstenburg, who wrote the forward, hosted the book launch party in New York. We caught up with Brooks, now Fashion Director at talent agency William Morris Endeavor, and asked her to Tell Us Everything. Here's what she said...
What does it mean to be a muse? Sounds like the best job in the world.
The role of a muse is to inspire. It could be an official/ everyday job, or it could be just a friendship. A muse is the real life embodiment of the designer's vision – she may give opinions, wear the clothes in her own personal way, bounce around ideas with the designer. Its a collaborative process and it depends heavily on chemistry.
Finish this sentence: It's always smart to invest in ________ (for your wardrobe).
It's always smart to invest in expensive shoes. Cheap shoes bring your whole outfit down.
How did you happen to spend time in Oxfordshire? Has English-country style influenced you at all?
My husband grew up on a farm in Oxfordshire and we still have a house there. Being in the English countryside certainly influences my casual style. I recently bought a Barbour jacket in England – even though its new it looks vintage – its brown and very beat up looking. It's very English but I actually wear it in New York City as well - over a dress that needs to look more casual or on the weekend with jeans and boots.
Considering you're someone who came from such a conservative background in Palm Beach, how did you come to be so daring with fashion?
Ever since I was a little girl I didn't like to look like everyone else. There was a lot of good taste in Palm Beach – so much so that the expression "good taste" can actually have a negative connotation to me. So that led me to experimenting with different, more extreme styles.
I like the way you cite your own fashion mistakes throughout the book. Can you remember a time when you regretted your outfit while you were wearing it or does the embarrassment usually set it afterward?
Usually when I make a fashion mistake I know it the minute I walk out the door. The confidence that comes with taking a risk and pulling it off just doesn't come to me. These days, I tend to make most mistakes when I feel pressure to wear something by a specific designer that I wouldn't normally chose. So I tend to be careful about accepting invitations to events with designers – I only accept with those whose clothes I really love.
What impact has the recession had on fashion's creativity?
For sure the recession hurt the fashion industry but it did wonders for personal style. Money can really inhibit style – some people think that just because they spent a lot of money on their outfit they look good and that is often not the case. I usually put together the best outfits when I have to scrounge around my closet and re-invent things I've owned forever.
Tell us where is fashion going this spring and fall?
Wisely, the trends in fashion are heading towards very pared-down classic clothes. I call it minimalist classic. It feels right because who wants to buy loud printed dresses that you'll be sick of in three months when your budget is tight. Its much wiser to buy the perfect blazer that you'll wear for three years!
For someone who is noted for her personal style and sought out to collaborate with fashion houses, in the book your advice is really very grounded. You don't get caught up with "it bags," for instance. How does one achieve the right balance of staying on trend and being themselves?
The more you know yourself the easier it is to play with trends. Kate Moss is a great example of that – she is bohemian one day, classic the next, and lady like the day after that – yet she always looks like herself. When I am considering a trend I try to mix it with my favorite staples in my closet so I feel confident that I am doing my own take on it. Or I'll go buy the vintage version of a trend so I know that no one else is going to have it. When Balenciaga was making space-age inspired suits, I went to Palm Beach and found a $300 '60s Courreges suit in the thrift store – it fell right in with the trend but it was original.
What items will you be adding to your wardrobe this spring?
This spring I am into a relaxed '70s-feeling pant suit. The jacket is slouchy and the pants are rolled up at the bottom. Its very Lauren Hutton. They are 3.1 Phillip Lim and I bought three of them – white, black, and olive green! I'm also into buying great flat sandals – I love the combination of amazing materials and design, but with no heel so I can actually walk in them and jump on the subway.
What are five essential items for every woman's wardrobe?
Hanky Panky thongs (they work on all ages and most sizes), a perfectly fitting bra, expensive pumps (the price should hurt), a great military style jacket (any price), flattering jeans.
Gallery: Amanda Brooks' Style