Style guides always seem to come with dos and don’ts — strict rules that we’re expected to adhere to religiously if we want to be considered suitable, well-dressed human beings. These standard sartorial tenets often make fashion stressful, turning something that could be fun and experimental into something humorless. It’s a shame, because beauty can and should be “completely comical,” if you ask Grace Helbig. The YouTube star-turned-author (among many other job titles), shares her unique and playful approach to fashion in her new book, Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It.
Helbig’s latest title is far from your average style guide. It’s the book for every girl who prefers sweatpants to stilettos and dry shampoo to dry cleaning. Rather than preaching fashion advice as if it's gospel, the comedian encourages readers to throw out the rulebook and stop taking style so seriously. It’s hard to resist her point of view, especially since it comes with a bad-hair-day character wheel, silly entries in the “The Sweatpants Diaries,” absurdly hilarious letters to “Miss Mess,” and much more.
Like with her approach to style, Helbig wanted to put her own stamp on the guide. “I read a lot of other style books by Lauren Conrad, Michelle Phan and Alexa Chung and they were all helpful,” she said in an email to Bustle. “Alexa’s book felt so true to her and her style that it really inspired me to create something uniquely true to myself.”
Mission accomplished. Grace & Style is full of Helbig’s trademark humor, right down to the intentionally awkward photos scattered throughout the book. The shoot, which was done with photographer Robin Roemer, attempted to “mimic and parody the awkwardness of high-end models and fashion spreads,” she said. The team noticed something funny happening, though: The irreverent photos looked legit. “It became ridiculous and hilarious to try to ‘out-editorial’ the high-concept editorials we had been using as references,” said Helbig. “I have a new respect for the absurd ways models contort their bodies for their art.”
The book isn’t all fun and games, though. In fact, the YouTube star, who has been outspoken about body positivity in the past, used Grace & Style as an opportunity to talk about her own self-image issues. (Fun fact: We owe her tarot-card reader thanks for Helbig deciding to take this personal direction.) “Once I was able to write about that I found my groove and was able to think outside the box more and create the book I really wanted,” she said.
By giving readers a look at her past, Helbig displays how her attitudes on all things beauty-related have evolved. We get the benefit of the lessons she has learned along the way, including her discovery that comfort and confidence are essential. “A new rule for me is trying to stay within my own comfort zone,” said Helbig. “Feeling comfortable in my own skin inherently fuels my confidence. I think one of the most attractive qualities a human can have is a grounded sense of self-assurance.”
Feeling comfortable in my own skin inherently fuels my confidence. I think one of the most attractive qualities a human can have is a grounded sense of self-assurance
When I asked her what style advice she’d offer others, her tip piggybacked off that wisdom: “Experiment and find the look or looks that make you most happy. That’s the fun thing about style, it can change constantly and it’s totally in your control. When it’s not so serious, it’s the best.”
Unfortunately, all of us can expect to come across haters at some point, but that’s no reason to cater to them. Helbig has had to cope with the hordes of Internet trolls out there, but she tries to use their negativity as motivation. “Every time a hater leaves a negative comment, think of it as them making a deposit in the ‘bank of you,’” she said. “Then use that money to invest in something good for yourself. Create more, do more, think more.”
Helbig certainly has been doing more. Her work has spanned a variety of forms of media, and she’s done everything from host on her own talk show to star in film and TV roles. So far, she’s showing no signs of slowing down. Of her future plans, though, the comedian was “#vague.”
Experiment and find the look or looks that make you most happy. That’s the fun thing about style, it can change constantly and it’s totally in your control.
“I’m taking opportunities as they come and aligning myself with projects and people that make me happy and allow me to create dumb, fun things,” she said.
Images: Giphy (3)