Thursday, September 17, 2009

Freakin' Fabulous By Clinton Kelly- Book Review

The full name of Clinton Kelly's book is Freakin' Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally Be Better than Everyone Else. Basically, the man with the neverending supply of argyle sweaters wants to give our lives a makeover in his own special way.

For our friends overseas, Clinton Kelly co-hosts the American version of What Not To Wear, and he is, indeed, fabulous. A big part of Clinton's charm comes from his easy manners and the way he handles himself with the guests on the show as well as with his co-host, Stacy London, who can be a bit abrasive at times (I love her, but she's as acquired taste). He manages to be witty and kind even when delivering the toughest love to the worst dressers, the ones you feel like hitting on the head with their Crocs.

The refreshing part about Clinton's approach to fabulousity is how it's not restricted to dressing up nicely and mixing patterns with neutrals. It starts with being respectful, well-mannered, semi-articulate and employing common sense in social situations. There's a full chapter devoted to grammar, with examples that would make you giggle even if you failed Language Arts ("If she weren't a hoochie mama, she'd get taken out to dinner more frequently"). Style books don't tend to teach you when and how to use the word whom correctly, and maybe that's part of a bigger problem. Clinton wants us to realize that rudeness and sloppiness (of language, manners and domestic habits) is not cool and not fabulous.

The book offers advice on tipping, eating asparagus, sending Thank You notes, making a vinaigrette and arranging flowers. Some of it is basic and some is a little more lifestyle-dependent. Hosting cocktail parties for 60 people isn't necessarily part of everyone's routine. About 90% of the recipes are meat-based (and the rest would still give you a coronary), and I'm not completely sure I'm interested in the decorating wisdom of a man whose living room features a six-foot antler chandelier painted in high-gloss black (he even shows a photo, in case you think he was kidding about it). But Freakin' Fabulous is a fun book to read and might even be an appropriate gift for the very young who are making first steps in the world and could use some guidance about the world outside their frat house.

Bottom line: You don't really need this book, but it'll give you something fun to read on a rainy afternoon at Barnes & Noble, without the shame-inducing guilty pleasure of leafing through People magazine.

Freakin' Fabulous by Clinton Kelly ($24.95, $16.47 on Amazon) is available from from every bookstore in North America.


  1. A., the photos in the book are great, and I'm pretty sure the recipes are good. Too bad I'm a vegetarian.

  2. Tom, I love him, too. You know those silly meme questions about which important people, dead or alive, you'd invite to a dinner party you're hosting? You're supposed to say something like Jesus, the Dalai Lama and CocoChanel, to show how deep and spiritual you are (or something), but my list includes Clinton Kelly, Tim Gunn, Anderson Cooper, Oscar Wilde, Cary Grant and my scent twin...

  3. ooooh would that be the dinner! I'd make my chocolate mousse!

  4. I love him, find him funny and as you say, kind.

    And that antler chandelier actually sounds fabulous!


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