When it comes to #girlbosses, Amanda Brooks is pretty high up on our list. During her 20-plus year career in the fashion industry, she's worked as a photo assistant to Patrick Demarchelier, a gallerist at the Gagosian, and fashion director for a little store called Barneys. Suffice it to say, she's learned a thing or two about personal style, before leaving most of these memories behind in favor of a quaint home in the English countryside with her husband and two kids. In her latest memoir, Always Pack a Party Dress: And Other Lessons Learned From a (Half) Life in Fashion ($21, amazon.com)—out today and exclusively excerpted here—she candidly reflects on one of her life's greatest fashion lessons—and one to which all fans of the Canadian Tuxedo can relate: mixing denim.

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Always Pack a Party Dress by Amanda Brooks lead
Credit: Courtesy John Moore

Do you mix denim? I do. It took me a while to get my head around how it works, but I eventually figured out how I like it. Right now mixing denim is a trend, but it’s also a classic concept that never goes out of style, so I just carry on whether it’s in or out of fashion. What works for me is a denim or chambray shirt (unbuttoned as far as you dare to go) worn with jeans—either skinny or flared. Think seventies Farrah Fawcett without the winged-out hair. But here’s the thing—there’s a delicate balance between color and texture. I like to create a balance between the two. If my shirt was on the pale side of denim and new, then I would choose jeans that were also pale but more worn looking, even with holes in them. So the colors match, but the textures are contrasting. On the other hand, you could contrast the colors—pale denim on top, dark denim on the bottom. But then I would wear a thinner chambray shirt with darker raw denim jeans, again, creating some contrast. Putting together denim is easier than it sounds; it’s just a matter of trial and error until you like what you see.

From Always Pack a Party Dress: And Other Lessons Learned From a (Half) Life in Fashion by Amanda Brooks. Published by arrangement with Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2015 by Amanda Brooks. ($21; amazon.com)

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