Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Book Review: City Chic

City Chic: The Modern Girl’s Guide to Living Large on Less
Author: Nina Willdorf
Amazon Price: Currently Unavailable / RRP: $14.99

Overview: ‘Money may be an object but you refuse to let it be an obstacle… what you lack in funds you make up for in daring and desire.’ Well, this book certainly does require a little daring; City Chic challenges and inspires you to jump head first into thrifty living with its extensive list of savvy survival tips. If you’re looking for the perfect pocket companion to a beautifully budgeted lifestyle, this could well be it.

Evaluation: City Chic is utterly practical, by no means does it have you scrimping every last penny away into your retirement fund; instead Nina encourages you to have fun with money; to know where to save and where to pick your luxuries 'Life would be bananas if a girl didn’t go crazy every once in a while… Occasional excess is an important part of mindful thrift. It’s the yin to the yang. The tonic to your gin.'

Helpfully divided into ‘Home’, ‘Body’, ‘Eat & Drink’ and ‘Wear’, each section is packed full of practical tips with each chapter crowned by its own list of ‘Modern Girl’s Websites’ to help you further your mission for fabulousness in specific areas, which I thought was a great addition.

The book is primarily aimed at an American audience, and specifically the New Yorker, but don’t let that put you off if your nationality differs, it doesn’t tend to make the advice any less accessible. Interesting features included ‘Seasons for Curbside Shopping’ (although I’m not totally convinced) ‘Best Case Life -Span Scenarios’ for your wardrobe, tips to ‘Refashion Found Furniture’ and even a wine guide; this book has everything covered.

The only real negative I found was that there were several points of advice where I was kind of thinking ‘well, duh’. For example, dropping that gym membership in place of running or exercise at home… But there were plenty of new and inspiring ideas too, and it’s always good to have the oldies reinforced, and ultra handy to have them categorized together in such a cute, reference-style way. Ultimately, the real impact of the book came from Nina’s friendly and conversational tone which was more like having a girlfriend share a few well-practised secrets with you than a prescribed course of action.

The best bit about reading the book was the excitement it ignited in me to embrace a budget lifestyle; you sense that it’s a worthy past time; that you need feel no shame; that you’re part of an elite even!

Summary: If you’re a cosmopolitan gal with shopaholic-like tendencies who yearns to embrace frugality, then this is the boost you need. Nina writes in such a way that makes City Chic both entertaining to read from cover to cover, and handy as a reference tool to dip your manicured hands in as you wish! A great and comprehensive lifestyle guide that will stand the test of time from student to career girl.

Heart-o-meter: (4/5)

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Sherin said...

The book looks good, and very useful for us poor students.
My tip for living large for less is to play with the clothes you already have. So mix and match more daringly and be more creative with outfits. If you don't have a lot of different stuff in your wardrobe, you can go to a charity shop and pic up some great stuff cheaply. You can also customise what you already have, like sewing on bead and sequence etc.

Harriet said...

Looks like a good book!

My advice for living large on little is to learn to love lunch menus (all the Ls!). As someone who likes to let others cook for her as often as possible I am on a constant quest to eat out on the cheap.

Most restaurants will have a set lunch menu so you can choose a couple of courses for as little as £5-6 as long as your prepared to make lunch your main meal or eat dinner before 6 or 7pm. yuumy!

sandraaa_xo said...

ooh one tip:
raid your mumzie and dads wardrobe! the weirdest things come back into fashion :)

Claire said...

With clothes, look at runway shows, online sites (such as Net-A-Porter), other blogs and see what your wardrobe might be missing to draw it together. Often it just needs a fresh set of eyes, so get a friend to look over it too!!

greenbuttonblog said...

Coupons! It sounds ridiculous, but I get the Sunday paper every weekend. I never use any of the food coupons, but most people don't realize that there are lots of coupons in there for makeup, hair products, and other grooming-related things.

Kristen said...

Coupon codes! If you're buying online, even if it's not that expensive, I always Google to see if I can get some kind of discount on what I'm ordering.

Once I ordered two skirts, a pair of pants, and a pair of shoes from Old Navy, and did a coupon code search. I found two codes: one for free shipping if buying shoes (score!) and another for an additional 50% off all clearance clothing (the skirts and the pants). I saved almost $30! I know coupon codes are nothing new, but I'm shocked at how few people I know actually use them. DEFINITELY one of the better ways to get new clothes on the cheap!

Ney said...

The grocery where I shop marks prices WAY down on Monday mornings. Steak, veggies, fruits, bread, they've got to be sold by that Friday. Awesome, especially as prices for food are NOT cheap around here. There's also a local bakery that sells day-old bread for 1/2 of what it normally retails for.

I also do the obvious, shopping at thrift stores and re-designing what I buy, jogging outdoors instead of at the gym, and using my library as much as possible. (Although my card has a $20 fine currently, not so frugal! ;))

Along the clothing line, I've got some good girlfriends about my size and we swap clothes back and forth.

Seonaid said...

The book sounds great, especially since I'm so OCD that the categorisation by topic really appeals to me. :)
My number one tip for 'living large on less' is to try DIY or crafting, in all areas of life. Make your own clothes or revamp old ones, handcraft cards or birthday gifts, bake or cook from scratch. All these things will save you money as high-street or designer or supermarket options respectively usually end up costing a ton more than if you do it yourself. Also, who doesn't want the added kudos and ego boost when someone asks you 'Oh, where did you get that dress/find that present/buy that cake?' and you can respond 'I did it myself!'

Alisha said...

My tip? No matter how little you have, be in the moment. It's amazing how life-changing a free or cheap experience can be (take walking through the park) when you take the time to truly experience it. Stop and smell the flowers, watch the kids and dogs play, feel the sunshine, and recognize how truly miraculous it is just to be.

Christine said...

This looks like a really good book, I've got to admit.
My tip for saving money is to stop shopping. I don't mean to stop bying things, or pretty things you really want and need, but instead I'd suggest that you shouldn't consider shopping as a hobby, as many girls I know do. You should find different hobbies which make you happy... Of course I can totally understand the thrill of a new dress... but for me it is far more satisfying to knit or sew something.

alexandraonline said...

This book sounds like something I could seriously use right about now! My advice for living large for less would be to set goals every month and then agree to reward yourself with something you really, really want if you accomplish them all. I do this because it makes me work harder at achieving the 3 or 4 goals I set for myself each month, and it also helps me justify a little bit of a splurge once a month by treating it as a reward to myself for hard work. It also helps curb my haphazard spending because I know I have something to look forward to at the end of the month and I want to have the money left over to be able to afford it! :)

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