Books: Author Chantel Simmons talks about the importance of having a style icon

Photography by Melissa Di Pasquale

Chantel Simmons, the best-selling author of Stuck in Downward Dog, released her second novel, Love Struck, earlier this year. Lighthearted and fun, the beach read explores what happens when 27-year-old image consultant Poppy Ross discovers that her husband is having an affair. The catch? Before she gets a chance to confront him, he’s struck by lightning and loses his short-term memory, including any details of his philandering. With the opportunity to erase history, Poppy recreates herself in his mistress’s image, with hilarious—and sometimes disastrous—results.

Rebecca Tay checks in with the scribe, who was advised by a real-life image consulting firm Gift Shop Girls (giftshopgirls.com) while researching her book, and learns about why style icons and accessories are of paramount wardrobe importance.

What were some pearls of wisdom you gleaned from Gift Shop Girls?
“’Who is your style icon?’ is one of the first questions the girls ask a new client. Their theory is that everyone has a style icon—someone whose style you admire, you think you look a little like, or wish you looked more like. I think they said that something like 45 per cent say Jennifer Aniston (at least, they did last year!). If your style icon is Gwyneth Paltrow, then you wouldn’t want the image consultants to be choosing clothes for you that Megan Fox would wear just because you have her body type.”

How did this help you in your research for Poppy?
“It ended up helping me really shape my two main characters in Love Struck. Poppy is a Gwyneth Paltrow–like beauty: refined, classic, polished. Her nemesis, Sienna, the woman with whom her husband had an affair, is a Megan Fox/Angelina Jolie type: dark hair, voluptuous, sexy without even trying.  Poppy thinks she has to transform herself to look like Sienna, but she fails because she’s conservative, preppy, pretty, and it’s very hard for those types to look sexy, no matter what they do.”

Did anything you learned from the Gift Shop Girls permanently change the way you dress or shop?
“Yes! I’m giving accessories my love and attention! I’ve always been terrible at accessorizing. I’m not sure I’m fabulous at it yet, but I definitely invested in some accessories (both classic and trendy). It’s true that accessories can really transform even the most basic or boring outfit–and although it may take an extra five minutes in the morning, it can save you hundreds of dollars on clothes. Another thing I learned is to stop being obsessed with the number on the tag. Even though we ‘think’ we’re a certain size, we shouldn’t be afraid to go up (or down) a size, to ensure we’re getting the best fit. I’ve also invested in a few quality pairs of black pants. The last thing I want to do is spend money on a great pair of pants, only to wreck the hem because they’re dragging on the ground.”

Read up on more of our summer book picks.

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