Style might come naturally to some people. For those wh want some help, many books offer advice. A sampling of the best:
* "Chic Simple: Clothes" by Christa Worthington, Kim Johnson Gross and Jeff Stone (Knopf, $24.50).
"Less is more" is the mandate, so Worthington et al build a simple wardrobe for work, leisure and sports, from the underwear out.
The authors pare it to the basics but recommend quality purchases, some of which require more than many of us would spend at the Gap.
Maybe the guidelines are all too safe. But it's hard to make a fashion faux pas if you follow the book to a T.
* "Italian Chic: The Italian Approach to Affordable Elegance" by Susan Sommers (Villard, $20). If you've got the basics down pat and want that Italian edge, Sommers offers solid guidelines.
Some additions for a basic Milano wardrobe: a trench coat in beige cotton or silk-like fabric; a great sportycoat, such as a camel polo coat; a hooded parka, perhaps quilted; a rich cashmere shawl; a pair of low boots, oxfords or moccasins; and, finally, jeans.
* "The Elegant Man: How to Construct an Ideal Wardrobe" by Riccardo Villarosa and Giuliano Angeli (Random House, $35).
Villarosa and Angeli have written for the traditional male clotheshorse. This book is a good primer for a college graduate aspiring to land a job in a conservative field.
If you get past the fact that some of the models in the photographs look laughably goofy in stiff portrait-like poses, the information is substantial, including fabrics, construction, types of hangers, shoes. Skip the knickerbockers, though.
* "Men of Style: The Zoli Guide for the Total Man" by Donald Charles Richardson (Villard, $20). Many models these days sport that grunge look, so don't think of them as the role models for Richardson's grooming guide.
Instead, think of men in Hugo Boss and Giorgio Armani ads. Richardson dishes advice on a skin-care routine and maintenance of nails and hair, as well as how to purchase wardrobe basics.
One shopping tip is to check for an extra button behind the fly area -- the button supports the waist band.
* "Color With Style" by Donna Fujii (Graphic-Sha, $19.95).
Fujii deals strictly with color, but she covers a rainbow of races. She just doesn't tell -- she shows a suggested palette for a particular skin tone, whether you're Caucasian, black, Asian or Hispanic. She applies the colors and combinations to makeup and clothing. It's too bad the book is geared only toward women.