The latest in style books -- A host of new how-to guides offer helpful fashion tidbits on everything from paisley to pastels

By Degen Pener
Updated September 29, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Is Prada still the one and only? Is next week’s paycheck worth sacrificing for that crocodile clutch? Should you go Brooks Brothers conservative or James Bond mod for fall? Three new but drably illustrated advice books recommend the following: Stop obsessing about the latest fashions. Concentrate on developing a consistent individual style. And don’t ever wear pastels to the office, sneakers with suits, or paisley with anything.

Paisley Goes With Nothing, by Hal Rubenstein with Jim Mullen
Micromini Review: Entertaining and actually helpful.
The Root of All Style Problems: Education. ”There’s a good reason why she dresses to look beautiful, while you dress not to make a mistake. You were never taught any different.”
Huh? Three of the ”50 Things Every Man Must Have”: a Burberry Vyella shirt, a Rowenta steamer, black cowboy boots with sloped heels.

Simple Isn’t Easy, by Olivia Goldsmith and Amy Fine Collins
Micromini Review: Accessible advice, but far too much just-us-gals chat.
The Root of All Style Problems: Mental. ”They all arise from FEAR…of looking too rich…looking too sexy…of blending in…of looking too old…of looking too formal…of seeming too stylish.”
Huh? ”Achieving a sense of style is not only a wonderful gift to yourself, it is a generous gesture to all those who see you.”

Style, by Elsa Klensch with Beryl Meyer
Micromini Review: The Emily Post of clothes.
The Root of All Style Problems: Physical. ”No matter what your sensitive area — whether it’s that you perceive yourself as being top- or bottom-heavy…short-legged or heavy-thighed — you can compensate for it by accentuating your positive points.”
Huh? ”Your bag should be large enough to carry…gum or sugar-free candy, a book to read, and your diary.”