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That Extra Half an Inch and Four Other Style Must Reads

I was that awkward child in the sixth grade sporting Osh Kosh B’Gosh overalls while the cool kids were already toting baby Louis Vuittons.

However, I eventually turned to books to uncover the secrets of fashion and beauty. Books were my teachers, and their authors were my guides. Bobbi Brown taught me how to create the perfect understated smoky eye, and Lloyd Boston first fostered my love for nude high heels. I have read hundreds of books over the years, but style and beauty books are the ones I turn to time and again. Their authors’ passion is contagious.

Every girl needs something to dream of, and each of the books below makes one want put on a pair of her highest heels and face the world – because “that extra half an inch” will transport you to a fantasy land far away where term papers and final exams do not exist.    

Victoria Beckham
That Extra Half an Inch: Hair, Heels and Everything in Between

The title says it all. Victoria Beckham is a woman who takes no prisoners, and her style is about anything but comfort. She famously wore a skintight Roberto Cavalli Ming Vase dress which was so formfitting that she could not sit down. Later, when that same dress ripped midway through the evening, she stitched it up on the spot in the bathroom. Beckham is a woman who can wear a $20,000 dress better than most models. However, she is also a woman who knows how to quickly fix it in a cramped bathroom stall if it rips.

All in all, Beckham keeps it real, and she is a girl’s girl who is not afraid to tell it how it is. “You don’t have to match your bra to your knickers,” Beckham says on page 293. “It’s ridiculous to wear a frilly bra under a t-shirt, for example, as the lace will bump up through the material and make it look like you have four boobs.” Truth.

Nina Garcia
The One Hundred: An A-to-Z Guide to the 100 Items Every Stylish Woman Must Own

Nina Garcia, I am convinced, is secretly a Colombian princess. She exudes taste, grace and understated elegance in all her endeavors, and The One Hundred is a virtual dictionary of style essentials. From Havaianas to Rick Owens leather jackets, Garcia knows the best designers for every clothing necessity. And even if you cannot afford a $400 bathing suit, you can benefit from Garcia’s wisdom. “Some girls on the street don't have a lot of money,” Garcia says, “but they have the best style. It's not about being able to buy everything in the store.” But, you will definitely want to buy everything in The One Hundred.

Rachel Zoe
Style A to Zoe: The Art of Fashion, Beauty, and Everything Glamour

When Rachel Zoe proclaimed that she wore platform high heels on her seventh grade class field trip, I knew I had found a kindred spirit. She chose to wear what she wanted, despite the elements, and her devil-may-care attitude is something that every woman needs. “Who cares what you think,” her wedges defiantly declare, and throughout the book one sees many examples of Zoe’s rebellion. She makes her own standards. Glamour and beauty are her idols, and she revels at fashion in all its forms. A must read for anyone who prescribes to the “more is more” school of style.

Paula Begoun
Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me

Seriously. After reading this book, you will be afraid to go to the cosmetics counter without Begoun’s book in tow. She gives you the scoop on which products are all hype, and which ones are the real deal. Although I do not agree with her about everything (Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar is the elixir of youth, regardless of what she says), she really knows her stuff. This book is a great find for anyone who wants to know the science behind make-up or anyone who wants to remove the guesswork from the makeup process. Check out this book, and you will be spouting off terms like Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Retinoids in no time.

Nadine Haobsh
Beauty Confidential

Cruising the streets of Paris as a teenage exchange student, Haobsh first fell in love with the mystery of darkly lined eyes. As someone who experimented with eyeliner in her youth, I can appreciate anyone who is also fascinated by its mystique. However, Haobsh talks about way more than eyeliner. She explains bikini maintenance, hair curling and exfoliation in simple terms from which anyone can benefit. Overall, Haobsh is one of the most accessible authors on this list and the best starting point for beauty novices. A beauty journalist herself, Haobsh also provides an inside look at the magazine industry.

Read. Learn. Enjoy. These books are all by smart, engaging women who have a passion for what they do.

Rachel Zoe (photo): http://mina-fashionaffairs.blogspot.com; http://mina-fashionaffairs.blogspot.com/2011/04/style-inspiration-rachel-zoe.html
Nina Garcia The One Hundred (photo): themodchik.com; http://www.themodchik.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/nina_garcia_the_one_hundred.jpg
Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter without Me (photo): shopping.com;

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