In today’s climate, being a lady (or indeed, a gentleman), are not high priorities on most peoples lists. Whether you are looking at fashion, television, music or the internet, it seems young ladies are encouraged to emulate the promoted lifestyles of reality TV stars, D list celebrities and stars of sex tapes. It’s hard to find an Audrey, Rita or Marilyn among the crowd (although even these stunning starlets were considered less ladylike during their day). You are more likely to find role models in the shapes of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Snooki than anyone of true morals, values, style or class.
Blasberg is revisiting and updating his first best-selling work, Very Classy and this time he has a few new comments…
You might wonder what a man knows about what makes a woman classy, and though your grandmother may know more, Derek has surrounded himself with enough fashionistas to understand both the basics, and the intricacies of what transform a woman into a lady.
Derek begins by stating that a previous car crash (such as Nicole Ricci) can uncover her inner lady, and a lady can revert to, what Derek refers to, as a tramp.
And therein lies the rub with Derek’s narrative style. He is irritatingly unlikeable. I am still unsure, having finished reading, whether Derek is gay or straight. The issue with Derek’s writing style is that it comes across as pompous, patronizing, ‘trying too hard’ and also faintly misogynistic. I don’t believe for a second that Derek is a misogynist, in fact I believe he loves women, but he throws around words like ‘skank’ far too often, despite criticising the fact that girls themselves often refer to each other with these insults. It seems Derek is simply perpetuating very unladylike (and ungentlemanly) behaviour in his depiction of two sharp contrasts of women…ladies and tramps (otherwise known as the Madonna/Whore complex…a woman is either an angel or a prostitute). Derek is not a true gentleman, so why is he telling women how to be ladies?
Derek also belongs to a world of crazy parties, mad money and celebrity friends, meaning that the average girl who wants to be more ladylike might find it difficult to truly take much from Derek’s materialistic, vapid world. The book is littered with pictures of Derek fawning over Hollywood stunners like a drunk deer desperate for attention and most of the women in the pictures don’t particularly look like endearing young ladies, but like posers, with stony, unsmiling faces and ‘over the shoulder’ glances that look practised rather than natural.
That’s not to say that this book does not have its bonuses.
For those looking to brush up on their manners, there are sections dedicated to wardrobe essentials, such as big sunglasses, LBD’s and trench coats, how to host dinner parties, set tables and establish themes, the perfect pictorial poses, and lists of movies and music, as well as artists, poets and theatrical productions, to set the tone of a true lady.
Although there are a few gems located within, I found the book a little too pandering. I think every girl is better when she treats herself like a lady, but we also have to move with the times and understand that if we were all to behave in a truly ladylike fashion, we wouldn’t be doing very much at all! Although Derek discourages this and actively encourages women to intermingle their individuality with their ladylike habits, it begins to feel like being a lady requires too many shallow affectations rather than a true reflection of character. For instance, he decries a woman who would wear casual clothing to an airport (totally negating that a woman might want to fly for comfort or relaxation). He also makes frequent references to celebrity friends who supposedly look like ladies but essentially aren’t which to me defeats the purpose of the book. There’s no point acting like a lady if you aren’t one. Derek seems to focus too much on the frock and the company you keep as well as ridiculous statements like leaving parties at the peak of your enjoyment just to preserve a little mystique, rather than the quality of the character within. What’s the point of being a lady if you are obsessed what others think of you and can have no fun?
If you want to learn how to set a table, wear a scarf in several ways and tackle relationships the ladylike way, this book is useful and a funny, witty read, but for me the author was unlikeable, a little too derogatory and up himself and essentially, most girls know what it means to be a lady, if and when they want to be.
If you really want to know how to turn on the lady like charm, turn to your grandma’s or the screen sirens of yesteryear, but most importantly…be comfortable being who you are, and if that means sitting in your tracksuit bottoms snuggled up on the sofa, well there’s nothing wrong with that!
Derek seems to confuse class with posing, expensive clothes and being seen with the right people always doing the right thing, rather than a true expression of the inner self, and for a supposed expert on class, he is nothing but crass!
Note to Derek; maybe write a book about being a gentleman next time?