Nina Garcia's Look Book: What to Wear for Every Occasion

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"We must all listen to Nina Garcia. Sharp and genuine, her advice can make or break an outfit."
-Tim Gunn, Fashion Consultant and Mentor of Project Runway

Believe me-there's pressure when you're deciding what to wear to a meeting with an iconic fashion designer or a member of the press. It can be terrifying. But instead of panicking, I stop, take a deep breath, and remember that I speak "fashion." And by the time you have read this book, you'll...

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"We must all listen to Nina Garcia. Sharp and genuine, her advice can make or break an outfit."
-Tim Gunn, Fashion Consultant and Mentor of Project Runway

Believe me-there's pressure when you're deciding what to wear to a meeting with an iconic fashion designer or a member of the press. It can be terrifying. But instead of panicking, I stop, take a deep breath, and remember that I speak "fashion." And by the time you have read this book, you'll be able to speak the language of fashion too, at all the key moments of your life.
-from Nina Garcia's Look Book

Every woman, at one time or another, has contemplated an all-important job interview, first date, formal party, or important presentation and wailed to herself and to her closest girlfriends, "What should I wear" In Nina Garcia's Look Book, style guru Nina Garcia solves this universal quandary with an inspired and unbeatable combination of fashion knowledge and common sense. She shows us the pieces, the accessories, and the strategies to create the looks that will take us from the first day on a job through the day we ask for a raise and beyond, from the first time we meet our boyfriend's parents (or his children) through the day we see our own children walk down the aisle. With Nina by your side, you can't go wrong. You'll have all the tips you will need to navigate every day looking your best.

True style is not about having a closet full of expensive and beautiful things-it is instead about knowing when, where, and how to utilize what you have.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Author Nina Garcia has been a Fashion Director at Elle and Marie Claire, but she is best known as an insightful judge on Bravo/Lifetime's Project Runway. Nina Garcia's Look is her fourth book, following The Little Black Book of Style, The One Hundred, and Style Strategy. Just as The One Hundred sharpened women's sense of wardrobe essential, this book pinpoints what clothing you should pick for a full range of occasions. One stylish project we can all share.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401341473
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 8/10/2010
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 479,947
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Nina Garcia

Nina Garcia is the fashion director of Marie Claire, a star judge of the hit Lifetime reality series Project Runway, the author of three bestselling books on style, and serves as Target's 2010 Style Expert. Prior to her work with Marie Claire, she worked as Fashion Director at Elle, and prior to that held positions at both Mirabella and Perry Ellis. Garcia is relied upon as a fashion authority and has participated in numerous television interviews, most recently appearing on The View and The Today Show, among others.

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Table of Contents


Power Chic: What to Wear to a Job Interview....................8
Start Strong: What to Wear on the First Day of Work....................15
Honoring Tuesday: What to Wear on the Average Workday....................22
Gal Friday: What to Wear on Casual Friday....................27
Showtime Chic: What to Wear to an Important Meeting or Presentation....................30
Material Girl: What to Wear When Asking for a Raise....................33
Work and Play: What to Wear to an Office Party....................38
The Sweatpants Trap: What to Wear When You Work from Home....................42
Come Fly with Me: What to Wear on a Business Trip....................45
Coquette 101: What to Wear on a First Date....................54
And the Beat Goes On: What to Wear on a Casual Date (or Arty Date After the First Date)....................62
Ode to Cozy: What to Wear for a Netflix Night In....................66
Love Hurts-Style Shouldn't: What to Wear When You Break Up with Your Boyfriend....................69
Shopping Around: What to Wear on a Blind Date....................73
From Heartache to Heartbreaker: What to Wear After You've Been Cruelly Dumped....................76
The New Crew: What to Wear to Meet Your New Boyfriend's Friends....................80
Staking Claim: What to Wear to Meet Your Boyfriend's Ex....................83
The Moment of Impact: What to Wear When Meeting Your Significant Other's Parents....................87
Kid-Friendly Style: What to Wear When Meeting Your Significant Other's Children....................92
Task Mistress: What to Wear for a Day of Errands....................96
Details for Retail: What to Wear When Shopping....................100
"Do" the Right Thing: What to Wear When You Are Getting Your Hair Done....................105
Going Green: What to Wear When You're Gardening....................108
For the People: What to Wear When You're Volunteering....................114
Style Sessions: What to Wear to Therapy....................120
Over Easy: What to Wear for Brunch with the Girls....................123
Enchanté: What to Wear to a Cocktail Party....................130
Bon Appétit. My Sweet: What to Wear to a Black-Tie Dinner....................137
Curtains Up: What to Wear to a Broadway Play....................142
The Gallery Crawl: What to Wear to an Art Opening....................147
Bordeaux Baby: What to Wear to a Wine Tasting....................152
Glam Rock: What to Wear to a Rock Concert....................156
La Vogue Bohème: What to Wear to the Opera....................161
Smoke and Mirrors: What to Wear to a Club-Comedy, Jazz, Magic....................164
Style in Motion: What to Wear to Go Dancing....................168
Style Resolution: What to Wear to a New Year's Eve Party....................174
Hangover Chic: What to Wear to New Year's Bay Brunch....................179
Reality Bites: What to Wear If You're Single on Valentine's Day....................182
Love-In: What to Wear to Valentine's Dinner with a Significant Other....................186
Spring Has Sprung: What to Wear for Easter Dinner....................191
Let My People Glow: What to Near to a Passover Seder....................194
Weekend Warrior: What to Wear on Memorial Day and Labor Day....................198
Patriotic Panache: What to Vicar to a Fourth of July Picnic....................203
Pure Style: What to Wear for Bosh Hashanah....................206
Costume Drama: What to Wear for Halloween....................208
Autumnal Chic: What to Wear to Host Thanksgiving Dinner....................214
Talking Turkey: What to Wear for Thanksgiving with Your In-Laws (or Boyfriend's Family)....................218
Gelt Glamour: What to Wear for Hanukkah....................221
Santa Baby: What to Wear When You're Hosting Christmas....................224
Dare to Dazzle: What to Wear for Christmas with the In-Laws (or Boyfriend's Family)....................231
Special Delivery: How to Pack a Hospital Bag for Your Baby's Birth....................236
Who's Your Daddy?: What to Wear to Meet a Potential Surrogate....................242
Sweet Chic: What to Wear to a Baby Shower....................247
Baby Bliss: What to Wear to a Baby Ceremony....................250
Cool in School: What to Wear to a Parent/Teacher Meeting....................253
Just Do It: What to Wear to Your Child's Sporting Event/Play....................256
Youth Gone Wild: What to Wear to Chaperone a School Dance....................259
Pomp and Circumstance: What to Wear to Your Child's Graduation....................263
Objection, Your Honor: What to Wear to Jury Duty....................266
Good Mourning: What to Wear to a Funeral....................269
Spoken For: What to Wear to Your Engagement Party....................274
Last Whirl with the Girls: What to Wear to Your Bachelorette Party....................280
Ladies Who Lunch: What to Wear to a Bridal Shower....................284
Love Is in the Wear: What to Wear to a Rehearsal Dinner....................287
To Honor and Adorn: What to Wear to a Black-Tie Wedding....................291
A Fine Romance: What to Wear to a Casual Wedding....................297
Matriarchal Chic: What to Wear to Your Daughter's Wedding....................301
On the Road Again: What to Wear When You're Traveling....................306
Hair: A Glossary....................315
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First Chapter

Nina Garcia's LOOK BOOK

By Nina Garcia


Copyright © 2010 Nina Garcia
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4013-4147-3

Chapter One

Power Chic

What to Wear to a Job Interview

There is no better way to start the Look Book than with the question we've all asked ourselves: What should I wear to a job interview? This, along with first dates, which we will, of course, explore later, is the mother of all first impressions, a minuscule slice of time when a potential employer gets a peek at your essence. Especially now, when competition is fierce and the stakes are higher, it is critical that you consider not only what you will say to impress your interviewer and sell yourself, but also how you will look the minute you walk into that office. Who will the employer see? How will that make her feel about you as a colleague? The smallest detail can set you apart from your competition. It's essential that you appear professional, capable, and confident without going overboard. Extremes of any kind are an absolute no-no. Your wardrobe should complement your skill set, never detract (or distract) from your assets. You want your ensemble to say, "I have good judgment, I am extremely competent, I am socially adept, and you are a true visionary if you choose to hire me."

It's a tall order to live up to, but I have faith in you.

Today's suit has so many options and variations that it never has to be stuffy or boring. In fact, a suit can be quite glamorous while still maintaining its business edge. I can't stress enough the importance of keeping your look relevant; fashion is cyclical and you've got to be aware of trends without becoming a slave to them. A suit says that you are serious, that you take the position seriously, and that you know how to make a great impression. A streamlined silhouette conveys structure and organization, two characteristics that your potential employers will surely seek in a candidate. A woman who walks into a room wearing a chic, modern take on the classic suit is immediately in the game.

Even in the middle of summer, a jacket is a must to pull your outfit together. A jacket says poise and maturity, and it conveys the professional energy that you should radiate when you walk into that room. And, if you're anything like the rest of humanity, you perspire under pressure, so the more layers between your skin and the rest of the world, the better. A jacket may feel uncomfortable, but it looks cool, calm, and collected.

When striving to make a great business impression, you want everyone to focus on what you're saying without being distracted by what you're wearing. Avoid too many bright colors and bold patterns. Mind you, judiciously incorporating color or pattern into a slick outfit will get you noticed in the right way. If you opt for neutrals (navy, brown, gray, and the ubiquitous black), add a colorful belt or patterned tights. Or, wear a smart jacket with a bold pattern such as a hound's-tooth check or a frothy blouse in a vibrant hue, but keep the rest of your ensemble neutral.

When I'm interviewing a prospective employee, I appreciate an eye-catching touch of flair. It's refreshing to see a woman who can artfully weave her individuality into an otherwise safe ensemble. But use your flair tactfully; always take a second and third look at yourself right before you walk out that door. I work in the fashion industry, where flair done right is always appropriate, but never forget your audience; be extremely sensitive to what sort of attire is appropriate for the job you are seeking.

It's unbelievably difficult to muster up sufficient enthusiasm to impress anyone when your current job situation makes you want to go home and watch hours of bad sitcoms or drink yourself into a comfortable stupor. So it's vital that you take care of yourself and keep a positive attitude during this process. Use the negative energy of your current situation as the starting point for your strategy to change it. And make sure to look fabulous doing it.

Other than what to wear, the job interview question I'm asked most often is, "What do you look for in an applicant?"

I look for someone who takes herself seriously without being overbearing or pushy. A woman who can think on her feet and come up with creative solutions, and someone who seems like she would be pleasant to work with in addition to being highly skilled. If a prospective employee seems uncomfortable or stiff in her clothes, she may be stiff and uncomfortable every day-not an appealing prospect. Your clothing is like a protective suit of armor-wear everything as if it were custom-made for you, as if you were born in it.

Practice your interview style with friends, get comfortable answering questions on a number of topics, and always research the company you are applying to. I love it when an interview feels like a conversation rather than an interrogation, and when the person I'm speaking with is really listening to what I say before she responds. Know your weaknesses but paint them in a positive light and don't be afraid to list your strengths. You are your own best advocate: too many women forget this. Also remember that you won't click with everyone: it's best to figure that out up front. You just may dodge a bullet if the position/employer combo is not the best fit for you. Success is just around the corner. Believe this, act on this, and it will be.

WHAT'S in YOUR bag?

So many women don't pay enough attention to the handbag they carry to a job interview. Details, girls! Your bag should go with your ensemble without being too matchy-matchy, and it should be very, very neat. Nothing makes a bad impression like having to search through a jumble of lipsticks, used tissues, breath mints, and God knows what else when you're looking for a pen. Be prepared and efficient. Do match the class of your bag to the level of the position you are seeking. If you are interviewing for a receptionist job, don't carry a Louis Vuitton Monogram. Never upstage the boss.


When in doubt, these chic hues are guaranteed to work together in perfect harmony.

Navy Black Brown Navy Loden Gray Gray Aubergine Camel Ivory


DON'T WEAR FUR. It can be controversial; not to mention it's a little over the top for a job interview.

DON'T WEAR LOUD JEWELRY. The only kind of bling you should sport is something like a classic strand of pearls, a simple pendant on a delicate chain, or an equally minimal piece. Dazzle them with your wit and intelligence, not your baubles.

DON'T WEAR HEAVY MAKEUP. Your look should be sweatproof and showcase your beautiful features.

DON'T WEAR SHINY FABRICS. Unless perfectly executed, they come off as cheap and too informal.

NO CLEAVAGE, NO GAPPING BETWEEN BUTTONS, NOTHING SEE-THROUGH. You're a girl that works. Not a working girl.

NO WILD PATTERNS, AND KEEP RUFFLES AND EMBELLISHMENTS TO A MINIMUM. Too much pageantry at the first interview is too distracting. Simple and streamlined keeps the focus on you and your skills.


You can only make one first impression, so make it your best. Be well groomed, pressed, and with not a hair out of place.

DO WEAR A WATCH. A classic men's watch is not only functional but one of my favorite accessories for an all-business look. Your future boss will see that you've beautifully integrated punctuality into your style arsenal. And punctuality is a must.

A MANICURE IS ESSENTIAL. Hands are so expressive; they cannot be overlooked. Keep your nail color chic and understated; avoid long acrylics and bright polish.

DO SPIT OUT YOUR GUM. Fresh breath is a must, but no one looks good chewing on a wad of gum.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Research the company and be prepared to think on your feet. Knowledge is power and Google is your friend here.

EXPRESS YOUR PASSION FOR THE JOB AND RADIATE ORGANIZATION. Passion and organization are an unstoppable combination.

rules are made to be broken

Never wear black with brown or navy.

Rubbish. Black with brown, navy, or gray is a thoroughly modern twist on classic dressing.

rule breakers we love

Quenn Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I personified the concept of dressing to impress. Her extravagant style influenced men and women throughout England and beyond, and intimidated her opponents. She lived by the philosophy that "more is more" and in so doing, created an empire. She's the ultimate can-do woman.

Start Strong What to Wear on the First Day of Work

The details are not the details. They make the design. CHARLES EAMES

You did it. You landed the job. You have spent the night before this first day sleepless-excited and nervous about what this new position will bring, fantasizing about the possibilities for you and your future. The sky's the limit. But when the morning dawns, the outfits you thought about wearing don't seem right anymore, panic sets in, and that bright future you dreamed of is suddenly dark and stormy. The questions begin all over again: Should you wear the skirt or the pants? Are the heels you've planned on just too high? Is your statement piece making too much of a statement? I mean, unless you're attending the art opening of a Rhode Island School of Design student, is electric blue velour really ever appropriate for anything? Breathe. Get it together. You've got some quick planning to do.

The key word on your first day at a new job is DETAILS. You are the sum of all your details, the nuances that make you unique. Expect to be scrutinized by just about everyone during the first week or two. Nothing jolts energy into a work environment like the new girl. And how she is received will he shaped by the impression she makes at first glance.

Presumably you got a look at what the others generally wear when you first came in for your interview. For at least the first week amp the formality of your attire up a notch, gut just a notch. It's essential to strike that delicate balance between relatability with your peers and respect from your superiors. You want to look approachable yet interesting, and most important, you want to make your boss proud.

As always, I'm not telling you to completely suppress your own inimitable style (as if you could), but just to tailor it for the situation at hand. Let your flair emerge subtly on that first day. Your outfit should say, "'Hello, I'm the best candidate for this job. I have the experience, the people skills, and the savvy to take this company to the next level." It doesn't matter whether you are an administrative assistant or a vice president, your ensemble should project skill and efficiency. People love to put a label on everything, especially in the office, so it's important that your initial label is one you can live with. It's not easy to undo a good first impression, but it's nearly impossible to reverse a bad one.

Use what you wore to the job interview that landed you the position as a guide, and plan your first day from there.

Now that you have a good sense of what to wear on your first day of work, you should be able to sleep more soundly the night before. After all. wardrobe aside, sleep and rest are indispensable to keep your mind sharp and your creativity flowing for that first day.

THE coif THE face

A blow-dry is a must. Nothing compares to the polish and shine of properly blown out hair. It's the perfect finish to every outfit, so learn how to do it like a pro. Your hair shouldn't hide your face. Brush those sexy long bangs to the side.

Natural, neutral makeup is perfect for the office. No bright blue eye shadow and no glitter. Glow subtly, and leave the shimmer to after-hours and weekends. Finish your look off with rosy lipstick; it does wonders for your complexion in the harsh fluorescent lighting of most work environments.


How to become indispensable and upwardly mobile in the office-and in life:

Anticipate problems and solve them resourcefully. Your initiative won't go unnoticed.

Always say "Yes" to a challenge and give it your best effort.

Never mix work and romance. I know it's tempting, but office romances are distracting and they rarely end well.

Never make the same mistake twice.

Ask questions; never stop learning about your position and your company.

Always keep a notebook on hand to jot down notes. It'll pay off, believe me.

WHAT in YOUR bag?

Keep the bag simple and the contents neat. Do a weekly bag edit so you aren't always searching for your wallet in an endless abyss of receipts and business cards. Always bring your day planner, a pen or two, and mints. You never know what your boss might need at any given moment, so be prepared. Make sure the bag's size makes it easy to stow in a desk drawer.


DRESS: Wear a frock that's professional but interesting. Look for unusual details like structured pleats or intricate seaming. A fabric with great texture, like cloque or bouclé, or a subtly unique pattern will intrigue and impress. Think Michael Kors with a hint of Christian Lacroix.

TROUSERS: Go for streamlined and modern trousers with clean lines.

SHIRT: There's something about a crisp, collared, white button-down shirt that makes us stand up a little straighter. A whimsical blouse with a little frill at the neck looks smashing under a structured jacket. The interplay between soft and crisp creates an unforgettable look.

JACKET: If you prefer to go the pants and jacket route, this is a great day to experiment with a different silhouette. You could wear a cropped, fitted jacket with strong, angular shoulders and high-waisted trousers or an oversize blazer with lean cigarette pants.

PUMPS OR BROGUES: Avoid stilettos or platforms unless you're absolutely they're appropriate for your office and that you can realistically spend an entire day wearing them. Go for something sleek and simple. Wedges are OK, but they can look casual or clunky with a suit, so choose wisely.

STOCKINGS: If you want to add a splash of color, this is the place to do it, but don't go too bright. You must look professional, and not like you're on leave from a stint with Cirque du Soleil.

ACCESSORIES: Simple, simple, simple. A small pendant or pearls. Wait until your second day to sport piles of lavalieres or a chunky statement piece. Don't wear anything that jingles or clanks.

rule breakers we love

Gloria Steinem

Ms. magazine cofounder Gloria Steinem showed women everywhere that feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive concepts. She is smart, strong, and confident, and was sexy enough to famously go undercover for a story as a Playboy bunny in her quest to portray the state of women's rights. Her honey blond hair and oversized glasses became her trademark look. Create yours.

rules are made to be broken

It was unacceptable for women to wear pants on the floor in Congress until the nineties

I can't believe it took that long for Congress to join the rest of the country. Women can wear pants anywhere they please. With impeccable tailoring, few pieces command as much respect.


Excerpted from Nina Garcia's LOOK BOOK by Nina Garcia Copyright © 2010 by Nina Garcia. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2010

    If money is no object, this book is for you.

    In the area for what to wear to a job interview there is what's in your bag?, it says in one spot, "If you are interviewing for a receptionist job,don't carry a Louis Vuitton Monogram. Never upstage the boss." For us in the real world, that won't be a problem. This book goes through outfits for work,day to night, life events to dream travel. The illustrations were cute, pictures of real items would have been a better visual. Nina has a lot of style, I'll give her that. If you haven't the sense how to dress for any occasion i.e. a baby shower, a wedding, a funeral you might find some handy tips. I learned two things from this book, one is I didn't wear a proper outfit when I met my future in-laws. Second, I'm not active enough to need to know what to wear to a Art Opening or a Black-tie Wedding. That made me a little sad inside. Hey Mrs.Garcia, next time write a book for fashion, on a realistic budget. (think blue collar workers who want to look amazing in their tiny cubicle.) I think it will be a challenge for all involved.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I believe that some women have a better chance of filling their

    I believe that some women have a better chance of filling their closets wisely, thus avoiding clutter, by gaining knowledge about how to dress and shop. Nina Garcia’s Look Book is one of the books I would recommend to such a client.  It is a funny, highly personal look at what-to-wear fashion: pants vs. dresses, when to go casual, time-honored tips, tricks and all. Look Book is indeed arranged by occasion, from job interview to New Year’s Eve Party.  The occasions are grouped by themes such as “life events.”

    But Ms. Garcia, the fashion director of Marie Claire magazine and a judge on Lifetime Television’s Project Runway, goes far beyond fashion.  She offers opinions on everything from how to ask for a raise to surviving meeting your significant other’s parents; honors her charities of choice; and decorates her pages with irreverent, wise, timeless quotes of gifted people ranging from Amelia Earhart to Lauren Bacall. The quotes could be a book in themselves.

    A reader will not, however, find guidance on how to dress.  There are no formulas for accommodating body-shape, no hints about color choices.  Unhappily, Ms. Garcia also engages in the common, bewildering-to-the-outsider habit of name-dropping – designers and their styles are referenced as if they are a reader’s quirky family members. And like many style editors, Ms. Garcia assumes that everyone knows the basics, concerning pattern, fabrics, etc., as she converses about options.  I for one wish someone would explain bouclé.  The book is not for beginners, but it is educational and entertaining. Lauren Williams, Casual Uncluttering LLC, Woodinville, WA  USA

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    A must have guide

    Read this and you will never wonder what to wear to any occasion! I thoroughly enjoyed it and if there was a doubt before on what to wear when, there is none now! This is great whether you are new at this or a seasoned shopper with lots of style! Fun read!

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