Derek Blasberg’s debut book, Classy—a modern etiquette guide for young women—catapulted him from international fashion scene fixture to internationally-recognized author. Now, the fashion and culture writer is back with an update of his original, entilted Very Classy (Razorbill, $17.99). This version’s in paperback and offers even more advice on how to look good and act right—all imparted with a sense of humor, of course. We recently chatted with Blasberg about Very Classy and his thoughts on the current fashion landscape.
What’s the new book about?
Last year I wrote a book called Classy, which was a collection of humorous essays about etiquette. This new book is a continuation on that discussion, which means it’s completely revamped, updated, bigger, funnier and better than ever! There are two new chapters, nearly 100 new pages and all new essays and illustrations. When I wrote the first version of Classy, I thought it was everything a modern girl needed to know to be a chic woman. But in the year-and-a-half since that book was published, I found a bunch of other things I wanted to say. (Or rather, in many cases, a bunch of people pointed out a few more mistakes young girls were making today, which needed to be addressed!)
You made a big to-do about being considered a “real” journalist last time around. Do you feel like you’ve gained the respect you deserve?
I have to admit that in the months leading up to the publication of the first Classy I was very anxious and trepidatious about doing a book about etiquette, even if it was funny and (I hope) showcased my literary sense of humor. But, looking back now, I can proudly say it was one of my most gratifying publishing experiences. I say this with as much humility as I can muster: The book was a success! It was a New York Times best seller and it was translated into a bunch of languages to be sold in Europe, Asia and South America. Not only did I enjoy writing the book itself, I would do book signings and tours and I would meet all these amazing young women. I still get emails every day from people who were inspired by the book, which is touching and really encouraging. I think touching lives and getting good responses from people who read the book are as close to "real" writing as anyone can get!
You’ve been working in the industry for nearly a decade now. What’s been your most difficult job?
I’m not going to lie: Working in fashion isn’t always the easiest thing. I’ve been challenged from the beginning, and I’m challenged still now. In the beginning, the challenges weren’t too cerebral: How can I carry six coffees back to that studio at once? How can I pack up all these trunks in 30 minutes? Now the challenges are a little different: How can I write that story tonight when I’m on a red-eye flight? How can I be in two places at once? But I consider myself very lucky. When I moved to New York from Missouri I dreamed of working in fashion, and I am. It can be a difficult job, but you won’t hear me complaining.
We like to shop. You like to shop. What are five items every lady should own?
Oh, that’s a good question. For the first three things that a woman should own, I’m going to defer to Michael Kors, who once told me a girl should have these three things in her closet: a pair of jeans that make her look 10 pounds thinner than she is (no matter how cheap or expensive they are), a trench coat and a pair of oversized sunglasses that give her immediate glamour. To his list I’ll add two things: a comfortable, well-tailored cardigan that can go over everything from a T-shirt and jeans to a shift dress, and a sensible but high-heeled pair of pumps. What? I like a girl in stilettos!
Are there any trends that you absolutely despise right now?
Hmm, I don’t really even clock a trend unless it’s truly ridiculous. For example, I remember when everyone had those giant shoulder pads, which I thought was very amusing because all these chic young women started to look like football players from the back. But to be honest, what I say in my book is that, more important to being on trend with what she wears, I think a girl should feel comfortable. I know that sounds cheesy and predictable, but it’s 100 percent true. A girl who feels good in last season’s dress will look much better than a girl who feels weird in this season’s high waisted pants. If you feel good, you look good. (And the reverse is true, I guess: when you look good, you feel good!)
What was your favorite collection of Spring 2012?
Oh, that’s a tough question. I just told someone else that asked me this same question it would be like picking a favorite child, or worse, picking a favorite ice cream flavor at my local deli. Too many to chose from: I just got back from Paris, where I loved Yves Saint Laurent, Lanvin and Givenchy (but, for that last one, who doesn’t love a Gisele cameo?). Prada was tops in Milan, and I loved Burberry in London. And I guess Proenza Schouler was my favorite from the New York collections. But I could answer this question all day, ladies.
What will your next book be about?
Ouch, an even tougher question! Let me get this one out of the gate, and then I can start thinking of the next one. I have a day job too, ya know?
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