Monday, October 08, 2012

How to Look Expensive by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig- Book Review

The full name of this book by by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig (a contributing beauty editor at Glamour magazine) is How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor's Secrets to Getting Gorgeous without Breaking the Bank. It's an interesting angle for a beauty book and one that points exactly to what makes one really and truly look her best. Not younger or slimmer or more professionally made up, but expensive, as in the opposite of a Kardashian or Kendra Wilkinson.

How to Look Expensive is the kind of beauty book I wish I had decades ago because it helps one relax a little: use less product in your hair and elsewhere, prioritize what's worth the splurge and what's not, how to do stuff yourself the easy way and avoid mistakes. The advice in the book is practical and makes sense. It comes from a very positive and empowering place. As Andrea Pomerantz Lustig writes:
"...I believe beauty is power. When your hair looks polished, you feel polished.When you get your skin under control, you feel more in control of your life. The right lipstick color can lift your mood...." 

The book deals extensively with hair, from cut to color and style. There are also chapters about skin, makeup, and body, all filled with expert tips and ideas, product recommendations that include both drugstore and high end items, and celebrity photos. Kate Middleton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway-- all of them are great examples for the "expensive" look. I do wish the author didn't resort to the four looks/types you usually find in beauty and style books. I don't fall into any of these categories (Park Avenue Pretty, Hollywood Boho, Glam Globe-Trotter, and Modern Movie Star). I also don't aspire to be one.

This is probably the book's greatest weakness. While Andrea Pomerantz Lustig agrees that there isn't just one way to achieve a pulled-together polished look, when it comes to practical advice it's clear that she's really not too familiar with the hair and skin of women from different ethnicity or even different "looks" other than the general Hollywood pretty, the one that's represented by Jennifer Aniston and her lookalikes (yes, now I'm the one generalizing). While the author and I come from exactly the same heritage we have such different hair and coloring that I doubt she'd be able to actually do my hair, despite her vast knowledge, because in the end of the day, she's an expert on what works for her and things that will benefit te average reader, but not necessarily everyone, and perhaps not you. So take that into consideration.

This is even more evident when it comes to fashion advice. Pomerantz Lustig has her own style that works for her and is pretty safe. But it doesn't make her a style expert or makes her ideas about clothes right. Her basic wardrobe rules are pretty good, but they're not universal (actually, there's no such thing as "universal" in style). The fact that she collects statement designer jewelry (and I collect vintage) doesn't mean that you should, too. Still, her points are worth reading even on this topic, at least as a starting point and a way for you to figure out a way of your own.

The one part of How To Look Expensive that nearly killed the book for me was the fragrance chapter. The advice there comes from someone Pomerantz Lustig considers a "fragrance guru", Jessica Hanon,director of fragrances for Sephora. Why? Because the author doesn't even own any perfumes (!!!!!!!!). She says:
"Instead I usually wear the less pricey fragranced oils and lotions versions of my favorite scents for a more subtle effect that also subs as a body moisturizer."
Beauty and fragrance are always linked together-- after all, The Non-Blonde is a blog about beauty and perfume a I'm passionate about both. But I dearly wish that people who don't know or like perfume would refrain from giving others advice about it.

Bottom Line: a good book, but skip the last chapter.

How to Look Expensive by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig ($11.99 for the Kindle edition) is available from Amazon.

All images via


  1. Great review ... I shall check out Kindle. I have a heading in my bookmarks bar titled De Rigeur. I want you to know that you are at the top of the list. I do two things (as I truly at 66 have more weight than I wish as a result of illness) ... I have 12 pairs of excellent colored bifocals, most made by Anne et Valentin and I wear fine pearls. I literally cannot leave the house without at least one comment upon my glasses ... which hubby marvels at. Thanks for your lovely and informative blog. Liz

  2. I think I would agree with all of this except for Gwyneth Paltrow who, I feel, contributes nothing in the way of glamour. Her mother does definitely; but no way does she herself. And no, people who do not appreciate perfumes should not give advice about them.

    I, too, appreciate your fine observations.

  3. How can one not wear perfume?? lol The bottles on my shelf are multiplying. I think I'd need a different book, especially as I too am out of those categories. Keep these reviews coming, they are very helpful. :)

  4. Choosing not to wear perfume is choosing to impoverish your soul. She said harrumphingly.

    I must confess, if there were only one adjective I could choose to have applied to my personal style, it would be "expensive." At bottom, it's what I'm always striving for. Partly it's because quality always shows - there IS a difference between a well-made pair of shoes and shoddy ones - and part of it is because (as Coco well knew) there is an implied restraint and tastefulness in looking expensive, even if you are (as I tend to be) expensively eccentric.


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