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Dress Like the Big Fish: How to Achieve the Image You Want and the Success You Deserve Paperback – January 15, 2008
Years ago, after over 13 years in the Air Force, I found myself transitioning from flying jets for the Air Force to becoming self employed as an author and presenter in the civilian world. Being stationed in nearby Omaha, Nebraska, I had heard of the dedication of Richard Lerner and his brother Shelly of Bel Air Fashions. I so needed help. These two gentlemen were kind enough to spend hours helping me to understand color, fabrics, construction and fit of a gentleman's wardrobe. They made it easy. Through their efforts, I was able to mix-and-match, dress up or down fitting for any occasion. I'm proud to say that when I met President Reagan, I was dressed entirely through Bel Air Fashions. Whether I'm on Oprah, speaking with Fortune 500 companies or young adults, Richard and Shelly are with me every step of the way. If you are looking for a book that makes getting dressed easy then this is the book for you. --David Pelzer, author of A Child Called "IT"
#1 New York Times Best Selling Author
2006 National Jefferson Award Recipient
About the Author
As a Certified Wardrobe Consultant and Certified Custom Clothier, Dick Lerner is an image specialist who helps "sweat the details" to get dress and appearance right. He has been providing workshops for 33 years to assist men and women in choosing their wardrobes. Most notably, he works with people who are going through job transition. He is co-owner of Bel Air Fashions in Omaha, a wardrobe consulting firm. Among his clients are celebrities, military officers and savvy professionals who want to get ahead in their careers
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And therein lies the rub. Nowhere are there rationale for this author's choices, nor any references to research done in the field of professional dress. What one is left with is the opinion of a clothes salesperson, and while the author has 30 years experience selling clothes this does not establish him as an authority on what one should wear and *why*. Is an auto salesperson an authority on automobile design? Would you purchase an auto by handing your checkbook to the showroom floor rep? Then why would you let a salesperson choose your career path? One can understand that a salesperson might skimp on background reading, but authors should meet a higher standard.
Part of the difficulty with guides of this sort is a lack of focus. Do I really need to know how a belt is made? If I wear a less expensive belt with a suit, will this make a difference? Does this decision vary regionally across the country? Like innumerable authors before him, the big fish slips through Lerner's fingers, leaving him digressing into minutae which are of varying value (though I personally found them interesting). What the public pines for is a book addressing what actually, *measurably*, works for women and men in the workplace and how to most economically achieve this look.
There is good news for men: work attire for gentlemen is steeped in tradition, not fashion, so authorities do exist. If you desire a first book on gentlemanly appearance, the slightly dated "John Molloy's New Dress for Success" is based on his research, not sales opinion--one can update the look to styles of today once one understands the consequences of the clothing. A used copy of this book can be easily had on Ebay if not here, and the content quality handily exceeds Lerner's effort. If fashion is a gentleman's desire, perhaps to bait a longed-for woman of taste, I recommend "Dressing the Man" by Alan Flusser. His analysis of tricky color and pattern combinations is second to none. If considering other titles, I recommend previewing them with a critical eye toward discerning what the reasoning behind the advice is (if there is any at all).
Unfortunately, while guides do exist for women I know of none which adequately captures the current trends in clothing and style for the workplace. Writers and researchers would do a great service to many by meeting this need through a non-sexist but thorough treatise which acknowledges past and current sociological research on the effects of clothing.
In short, this book fails the needs of its primary prospective buyer: a woman or man seeking to understand the consequences of choices in workplace clothing. Try fishing elsewhere. The pond here is small and filled with naught but minnows.
As the author says on the cover, this is "...for men and women going through career transition or just entering the workforce". I didn't get this in reviewing the book for purchase. I was expecting to learn how to look refined but with a sense of personal style, with a creative touch. This is strictly high-quality, possibly slightly dowdy, uniform dresing.
The suggested wardrobe in this book was definitive of the smartly dressed woman in business in 1975. While the author says there's currently a return to traditional dress, this is very, very conservative. The book is excellent in giving a strong foundation in everything a butler of a rich man or woman would know about selecting clothes, the details about putting them together expertly and cleaning and maintaing them. For the college graduate just going into corporate business, the suggestions would be great for the interiew and probably the first day at work, but don't load the boat until you've been there.
I would have liked to see more about how to weave in the appropriate amount of 2008 personality.