Savvy Chic – Anna Johnson


“Everything you love for less!

Anna Johnson is not a tea-bag squeezer, a penny-pincher, or inherently thrifty in any way—but she knows how to enjoy the finer things in life . . . for much, much less! In Savvy Chic, she shares her secrets on how to dress, decorate, entertain, and travel in high style without breaking the piggy bank.

All it takes to live well is taste, style, imagination, and rebellious flair—and Savvy Chic will show you how. Fun, fulfilling, and frugally fabulous, here’s your indispensable guide to five-star elegance on a one-star budget.”

I’ve never been one for memoirs. Generally I find them boring – hearing the details of people’s lives, stories about the time they played in the leaves in the fall as a child followed by the best ice cream ever. Of course, there is always a certain amount of wisdom that can be passed on through the stories of people’s lives but it requires a lot of skill to bring those stories back to life.

On the surface, Savvy Chic by Anna Johnson seems like a book filled with tips and tricks about living a stylish life without having to break the bank, with a few anecdotes from the author mixed in. And yes, for the most part it is that, but it’s really more like a book of memoirs with some advice included in the mix. In the end, I don’t feel I learned very much other than if you want to make your financially humble life richer, it’s all a matter of perspective.

The book is divided into six parts – Clothes, Shelter, Income, Food, Travel and Entertainment. Johnson draws on her experiences from working for magazines such as Vogue, her many travels particularly through Australia, the United States and Europe, as well as her life as a recently divorced single mother who has the financially precarious job of being a writer.

The author grew up quite bohemian, and it’s those sorts of ideals she tries to pass along. Most of the time when you are examining your penniless situation it’s a matter of finding the bohemian romance in simplicity in order to keep your sanity before money finds its way back to you.

This is also seen as a way to get back into life. She suggests rarely watching tv, perhaps once a week (if at all), instead, going out to the opening of art galleries, free concerts or to poetry readings. This is all well and good but it made my TV loving, Glee watching heart get a bit squeamish.

I feel that probably younger readers will have trouble relating to Johnson, and her anecdotes since to us, at lot of her ideals might seem a bit….old fashioned? Unappealing? Maybe a bit too bohemian? I personally didn’t find the memoir side of the book very interesting and made the book a bit of a drag to read.

Something I found strange at first, but eventually though it was funny was the constant reference to something Indian – Indian sheets, Indian shirts, Indian sandals, Indian baskets, Indian saris…

Oh my God we get it, you like Indian stuff.

On a lighter note, the book has been BEAUTIFULLY illustrated by the author herself and added a very cute and quirky look to the book.

Of all the sections I found the travel chapters to be the most useful and interesting, as well the chapter in the Fashion section that made you reason with yourself – do you really need these boots just because they’re on sale? It’s good to get a reminder on how to restrain your impulse shopping.

The opening and closing chapters about our feelings and attitudes toward money and possessions were quite thought provoking – in the end do you own your things or do they own you?

Even if you don’t take every piece of advice given, there’ll be something in this book for everyone. A little change in your ways can do you some good, and save you money too.

Pages: 312
Publication Date: December 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins
Challenge: n/a

Teaser Quote: “Many large museums and art galleries offer drinks and (free) music on a Friday night. I think there is nothing funnier than looking at masterpieces when rosy and half tanked. That’s probably how half of them were created anyway”.