Book Review: Magical Fashionista by Tess Whitehurst – 4/5

You should be reading this:4/5 – There’s binary discussion, some questionable and unintentional cultural appropriation and fetishing. Learn more about how I rate books here.

The book read much more like a lifestyle book for most of it rather than a magic or metaphysical book but that’s OK because the metaphysical stuff is there in later chapters. It’s going to be very much a topic book. If you’re interested in this topic, then you’ll likely enjoy the book. If you aren’t, then skip it. You won’t gain much from the book if this isn’t a topic that you’re interested in.

I picked up the book primarily because it orbits a personal project of mine and because, hey, library book. Why not?

The first part of the book covers some basic fashion tips. It’s the kind of stuff you might read in lifestyle books, blogs, or on pinterest. Useful, certainly, but not groundbreaking if you’ve read up on the topic. If you’re not up on the subject, then the information offered will be useful for you. Fashion can effect your mood and how you’re seen so it completely makes sense to adapt fashion and wardrobe to magical purpose. The first part of the book will cover some fashion concepts and ideas but largely, as said, it’s general all-purpose knowledge.

Keeping a notebook on hand while reading this book to jot down ideas is useful, especially if you intend to do any further research or want to answer the numerous little questionnaires throughout the book.

I don’t entirely adhere to Whitehurst’s paradigm and world-view but I respect where she gets it from and she strongly implies that her way isn’t the only way. I always appreciate that. It’s a single line in a book that can make all the difference to a reader.

The book spends a good chunk of the time covering correspondences, like elements, moon, holidays, and and figuring out the kind of person you are now and who you want to be. Some people will find the sections on elements and such excellent and others will only skim the pages. Depends on your paradigm and what you’re looking to get out of the book.

The more I read the book the more I realized this is less about magic and more about lifestyle changes. I’m OK with that. I do wish there was more magic though. (I always want more magic and spells.)

On page 105, the chapter You Are A Magician starts and that’s where we start seeing more spells and magic. While the spells written out have obvious Neo-Wicca influence, many are fairly neutral and even secular or atheist witches could use them straight out of the book with little issues. Some, however, invoke angels or deities but could be easily adapted. The ideas presented are rather good as well.

I’ve used the idea of Vestments of Power, as the book puts it, before. For some people it’s a magic robe or cloak wore during rituals. For others, it could be a shawl or pair of sweatpants. I’m a HUGE fan of enchanting ordinary objects for magical purposes so I always appreciate seeing it in others’ texts.

I wasn’t overly thrilled with how glamour was presented in the book because glamour is much more useful than she described it as but it goes with the book’s theme very well.

I also made frowny faces at the “pants” charms. There’s nothing actually wrong with it except some slight glossing of history that’s completely understandable for anyone who isn’t actually history-oriented but most people won’t even notice it. I dislike the idea that pants are inherently masculine thus the frowny face but I get what was being said. A few pages later skirts were given the same treatment as feminine. YMMV but maybe I was just looking for shit to not like? I’m really just not a fan of binary shit like that.

Slight cultural appropriation appears with the inclusion of the goddess Lakshmi in a spell because Hindu is considered partially closed in some sects. Chakras is mentioned a page later and I… I have issues with chakras because they are cultural appropriations but they’ve been so heavily westernized that the chakras most people think of barely touch the origins of chakras.

There’s also some exoticification and fetishizing of certain cultures, specifically French and Indian. It’s meant to be used as a comparison but, honestly, there are ways of invoking the kind of mystique or sexiness implied without taking away the history, culture, and context that their fashions developed in. It might be a little thing to some people but it’s the low-key stuff like that that people rarely understand and often causes the most harm.

That being said, the idea of using scarves, shawls, or hoods for magic is a long-time one. I wear scarves often and usually have one on me. I find they help me focus when I need to and they can be enchanted temporarily or permanently to a purpose without having to enchant larger clothing pieces. Because of the versatility in one’s wardrobe, they’re good for magic.

The book carries on, breaking down each article of clothing you may have and offers spells for them. Very useful.

Then came the “Three Secrets” thing and I just closed the book and sighed.

You can say that your practice needs gesture, vocalization, and visualization without having to use yogi practices or refer to fung shui. Leaving aside that this is NOT the only method of casting spells, it’s simply unnecessary to take any of the elements in this section from the original cultures. A simple meditation practice or a discussion on wands or raising hands would have worked just as well. Mantras needn’t been mentioned when you’re discussing affirmations. They’re not actually the same thing. Like, why use this special word from another culture when we have a perfectly good word to describe the exact same thing? Ugh.

Anyway, I wasn’t happy about that section as I felt it could have been handled a lot better and made far more accessible without incorporating mundras and yogi inspiration.

Another thing I frowned at is the “fashion angel”. This is, essentially, someone you would look up to or pray to for fashion advice or help buying stuff. I totally get it. You had a fabulous grandma? Sure, set up an ancestor altar and ask advice. But let’s be real here: Cleopatra isn’t going to give a shit about the color dress you’re wearing. You can absolutely summon the dead to ask such things but don’t boil people down to what you think they were like. Cleopatra wasn’t just beautiful – she was a fucking queen. Be fucking respectful.

There’s further discussion of colors, polarity, patterns in fabrics, scent, gemstones, etc. It covers the little details of clothing and wardrobe. Much of it is pretty “well, duh” kind of thinking. Covering what a scent might do (see: aromatherapy), color might mean (diverges culturally and throughout history), and so on. Useful if you just want to quick look something up or read another person’s opinions but either you have a list of correspondences you already use, don’t use correspondences at all, or make up your own.

There’s a little section in the jewelry chapter on pendants as pendulums. I use pendulums a lot and I own a lot of necklaces. Be aware that not every pendant will make a good pendulum and you might not want to use every pendant as a pendulum.

There’s also a discussion on tattoos and piercings, which I find rare in these kinds of books. The advice is sound enough but remember to do your research for this sort of self-modification beyond the few pages dedicated here.

A chapter filled with basics of skin and hair care follows, again, much of which is along the same lines of pinterest information but there’s a few magical ideas in there worth reading. There’s the usual advice of exercise and sleep and so on. Remember that everyone’s body’s unique so YMMV on the advice as a whole. But mostly, the whole chapter is about self-care on a physical level.

The final chapter in closing is about being inspired and finding the best way to balance things. Short and sweet in conclusion. Oh! And there was a bibliography too which is always good.

Overall, the book’s good. It will be a rehash of a lot of information if this is a topic you’ve studied up on but for someone not well-read in the field or someone looking to get started adding spells or magic to their wardrobe, it’s worth the read.