How to Be Yourself is the gift that will reset their year ahead

Simon Doonan’s life-changing guide is one of our better books for a better year ahead. Give someone you love a copy!
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How to Be Yourself
How to Be Yourself

2020 hasn’t exactly been the year to take a nice long swim in Lake ‘Me’. The worldwide pandemic has given almost all of us cause to think of others before ourselves. We may have put career moves on hold, held off on wardrobe refreshes, not really invested in finding that perfect new relationship – after all, what’s the point of dating in a time of social distancing? – and ignored any once-urgent urge for self-development in favour of Netflix.

With any luck, all that will change next year,  giving many of us new opportunities to restart our personal, professional and social lives once more. How do we make that leap back from ‘we’ to ‘me’? Perhaps with a little help from Simon Doonan.

The British-born, New York based author, television personality, columnist and fashion expert set down much of his hard-earned advice in his new book, How to Be Yourself.  Subtitled Life-Changing Advice from a Reckless Contrarian, this new title is a sincere plea for honest self-expression, from a guy who knows all about the hard work required for successful self-realisation.

 

Simon Doonan. Photo by Joe Gaffney
Simon Doonan. Photo by Joe Gaffney

Doonan has made it as a creative director, a journalist, an arbiter of style, and even a TV talent show judge. Born into a modest family in the south-east of England, he’s risen to the higher reaches of New York society, and still recalls many of the pitfalls that can arise along the way.

In his inimitable, pithy prose, Doonan runs us through the ways in which self-expression can help us in work, love and family settings. His advice extends out to home decor and clothing, pets and life partners. Some advice is simple, and easily put into action; you should, for example, avoid all office-based birthday celebrations. Other pieces are a little more challenging; when it comes to professional choices he counsels: “be wary of jeopardizing your peace of mind in the pursuit of status, money, or power.”

A series of photobooth portraits of Simon Doonan
A series of photobooth portraits of Simon Doonan

Readers unwilling to draw life lessons from the pages of a paperback can still get a lot from How to Be Yourself, as the book contains many tasty, bite-sized recollections and bon mots. Consider this one, in the chapter on style. “Elsie de Wolfe, a towering aesthete of the twentieth century, expressed herself through her love of beige and reminded the world at every opportunity. On first seeing the Parthenon, the legendary interior decorator is said to have screamed, ‘It’s beige! My color!’”

Doonan's lovable dog. Shelter name: Martha. Real name: Foxylady
Doonan's lovable dog. Shelter name: Martha. Real name: Foxylady

Or this, on lowering one’s expectations, when looking for love. “Andy Warhol once said, ‘People have so many problems with love, always looking for someone to be their Via Veneto, their soufflé that can’t fall.’ Take a tip from the man with the finger-in-the-socket white fright wig: when looking for love, be prepared to encounter—and reinflate—a few dropped soufflés along the way.”

How to Be Yourself

We may not all approach 2021 like Warhol and de Wolfe, but anyone lucky enough to receive this book in their stocking may well remake the New Year in their own image. To find out more and order your copy of How to Be Yourself, go here, and let’s all look forward to being ourselves a little more.


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Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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