Friday, June 11, 2010

Another fun book report: "Australian Style- manners, interiors, occasions, fashion"

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to pop into independent bookstores and pick up local-flavored offerings of poetry, art, gardening, literature and lifestyle books. This past week while in Melbourne, Australia I espied this elegantly styled book cover, leaned in to further investigate, opened up the pages and...was thoroughly charmed!

"Australian Style- manners, interiors, occasions, fashion" by Melissa Penfold and Jenny Tabakoff is not only a great reference tome regarding all-things-styling-with-lifestyling but it is neatly formatted and most pleasantly so v.e.r.y...well written. Strong statements about style are dished out with wit and humor. Points about properness are quite pithy. Arguments presented about appropriateness are orchestrated with aplomb. Tips about looking top drawer all the while being creative with what one already has or can glean from vintage shops are terrific. And so on.

Reading this book is much like chatting away with a close girlfriend in a frank yet refreshingly encouraging bantering back and forth conversational manner.

It has become quite rare to find non-formulaic, non-overly dramatic or non-banally "professionalized" writing these days but fortunately these ladies have let their writing personalities shine through the text and typeset. This alone is worth the reading-of!

Here are a few excerpts I enjoyed which were found amid a bevvy of much more detailed information:

"Style is a redemptive as religion. Everything is forgiven, you don't have to be rich, and every day is an opportunity for a fresh start."

"Update your look: you don't want people carbon-dating you by your makeup."

"Being stylish is not about following fashion. Fashion is merely what's on offer, style is knowing what suits you."

"Never trust a teapot made in a country where tea is not a tradition."

"Etiquette is about knowing which fork to use and the right way to introduce people. Useful, yes- but only when accompanied with manners."

"Round tables are more companionable and democratic than long ones (no head, no power-statement chairs with arms), they accommodate more people and are better for communal eating."

"Houses that have some link with the outdoors are always the most successful."

And I laughed over this section because it's too-true regarding the gifting of wine:

"Wine is always acceptable, but think beyond the usual red or white. Here are some ideas for different types:

  • The wine snob: vintage champagne.

  • The girl who wants to have fun: the latest vodka.

  • The book clubber: a soft merlot.

  • The power couple: pinot gris (aka pinot grigio).

  • Social climbers: unwooded chardonnay.

  • Intellectuals: boutique imported beer.

  • Environmentalists: a case of cleanskins.

  • Non-drinkers: fantastically pretentious mineral water from the most obscure point on earth. Or balsamic vinegar."

The authors Penfold and Tabakoff do indeed offer up a delightful read about Australian stylistic lifestyling that is almost globally applicable; Americans, the English, the French and other nationalities can glean keen style insight and timeless inspiration from this bound to become classic Australian book.

Ah, yet another great style book to keep on my bedside table for perusal! The stack continues to grow...


  1. Ooh, would love to get hold of a copy of this book! How fun! Fantastic discovery...thanks for sharing.

  2. Hey V! I sooo thought of you when I saw this book and unfortunately they only had one in the bookstore. I wonder if it can be ordered off Amazon n''s definitely a "keeper" :)

    Best, Lachlan