A review of Unlock Your Style by Nikki Parkinson

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Unlock Your Style
Every Woman Can Look Good and Feel Confident – This is How
By Nikki Parkinson
Hachette Australia
ISBN:9780733631832, Paperback, 176pages, 29th July 2014

I have to admit to being rather sloppy about my ‘style’. The only ‘fashion’ that ever seems to work for me is simple and classic. Part of that is due to the fact that I’m not exactly proportioned like a fashion model: for one thing, I’m only five foot tall and big and bold just swamp me. My daughter has been functioning as my stylist since she was about eight – letting me know in a rather blunt (and humorous, if you aren’t me) way when I’ve got it wrong (something that happens often enough). I’ve been thinking that it’s probably time for me to learn to dress with a bit more elan, and to feel a little more confident about wearing clothing that isn’t just black, with a touch of grey, red or white. Enter Nikki Parkinson, fashion blogger, and author of Unlock Your Style. Unlike my wardrobe, Unlock Your Style is big, bold, and full of enticing colour. It’s as quick and easy to read as a magazine, and maybe as light, but sometimes, a little light fashion is just what you’re in the mood for, and after a few heady novels and poetry books, I was in the mood for light.

There are a few things I really like about this book. The first is that Nikki Parkinson targets the advice in this book to real women, and uses women models who are a variety of ages, shapes and sizes. The second is the warm, down-to-earth, non-judgemental tone that is always focused on feeling good over dictates. The book is real a style workbook and at the end of each chapter are little exercises. While I didn’t do them myself, I imagine if you’re really serious about making over your style, these would be a good way of working out what works for you and would add up to a pretty workable action plan.

There are chapters on how to edit your wardrobe, how to make sure you have enough classic basics, how to add in the odd seasonal “show-pony” or flourish, how to shop, how to dress for work, how to dress casually or for special occasions. The book also talks about choosing clothes for different body shapes, about using colour, accessorising, wearing swimwear, and also dealing with hair and makeup. Throughout the book there are lots of enticing images, big glossy pages, sidebars, and plenty of white space. It’s very easy to read through, and even easier to come back and check something out for reference – for example, to have quick look at the shopping section before a trip to the shops. One tiny caveat is that this is definitely a book targeted at women. There are plenty of good fashion books for men on the market, but this one assumes a female readership.

I’m not sure I’ll ever like shopping, or that I’ll give my wardrobe the amount of attention and time that Parkinson suggests.  My accessories will always be sparse, though I have certainly learned that a few chosen accessories can make a simple wardrobe a lot more flexible. However, Unlock Your Style has given me a lot of ideas for ways to make my existing wardrobe go further, and for minimising the number of purchases I make that simply don’t work for me.  This is a fun, light read that can make the job of choosing your outfit that little bit easier.


About the reviewer: Magdalena Ball is the author of the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Sublime Planet, Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks. Find out more about Magdalena at www.magdalenaball.com