“Quintessential Style: Cultivate and Communicate Your Signature Look,” by Janna Beatty and Sharon White, goes beyond the how-to of style to discuss the why. Beatty’s aim is to guide women in creating a sense of personal style by delving into who they are as individuals, then teaching them how they can communicate that sense of self to the rest of the world.
Her approach is not cookie cutter, but one of practical wisdom. Sharon White, who shaped Beatty’s wisdom into this easy-to-read gem said, “As much as Janna tries, she can’t share 30-plus years of knowledge in a forty-minute presentation, no matter how fast she speaks. Now the book can speak for her.”
Beatty begins the book by asking women, “Who are you today?” To aid them in answering this big-picture question, she provides a worksheet to help them pinpoint and develop their own “Personal Style Statement.” This statement then becomes the base on which all of a woman’s style and beauty decisions hinge.
“If you think about it, personal style permeates every aspect of our lives. If we can pinpoint our individual style, it will make decision-making easier in so many other areas: dressing, home décor, buying a car, a couch or a dog,” White said.
After helping women define their style, Beatty uses the basic art principle of color to help them determine which color shades and tones work best with their skin tone and features. From color she discusses the art principle of “line” to help women determine their own natural body shape, teaching them to become “shape shifters,” women who know how to balance their body proportions by wearing flattering clothing that accentuates their best features.
Beatty is skilled at starting with the building blocks of a concept, such as creating a basic wardrobe foundation with pieces such as slacks, blouse and jacket, and moving on to the details that customize any outfit.
“To me, clothing simply sets the stage — it is my canvas. Accessories create the real art,” Beatty said.
She offers more sage advice in her chapter on closet organization and design. In it, she asks her readers to think of their closet as a “river, not the Dead Sea.” She believes that every piece in a woman’s closet should be adaptable for the life she currently has, not the life she used to have or wishes she has. She offers great tips for knowing what to store, give away and purchase to make every woman’s closet an extension of herself.
Beatty also demystifies the process of shopping for clothing so that women know what to look for to complete their wardrobe, and how to be psychologically “girded” for the shopping trip.
Beatty not only focuses on clothing, but delves into another foundation of appearance — skin care. She advocates “lifestyle skin care,” which involves learning what your unique skin type requires and choosing products that work best within your lifestyle. She explains the uses and benefits of every skin care step so that women can successfully create a skin care routine that works for them.
Other than clothing, it is clear that one of Beatty’s favorite subjects is makeup design. “Makeup is the final accessory,” she says. She explains that the “eyes seek light and color.” Makeup is simply the art of strategically placing both of these so that a woman’s appearance reflects her best self.
In her final thoughts, Beatty discusses the added “polish” women can give to their overall appearance for personal and professional success. She explains that this polish is all about paying attention to detail and being mindful of what you are projecting to others.
Her down-to-earth style is relatable, providing her readers with a multitude of tips that are easy to remember. Any woman can pick it up at any age and use it as a guidebook for personal style and even for life.
“This book will evolve with you as your personal style changes,” Beatty said. “It is an affirming shortcut to signature style.”