The Wisdom of Diane von Furstenberg


When we stumbled across Diane von Furstenberg's 1976 memoir-cum-lifestyle guide, Diane von Furstenberg’s Book of Beauty: How to become a more attractive, confident and sensual woman outside the Strand Book Store a few weeks ago, we couldn't resist snapping it up. We figured that, if it was terrible, it would at least be terribly amusing, and if it was great, well, who doesn't want tips on how to become your best self, a lover of life is love is life is love...?

Turns out it's awesome (no shock there) and sadly out-of-print, so we decided to select her wisest bits and assemble them here, in the interest of sharing the love. Below, the (ITG-excerpted) wisdom of Diane von Furstenberg:

On Beauty:

“IMPORTANT! Makeup should have one function only—to make you look better, to make you more attractive...Makeup is a luxury, so it should be fun... Making up is like telling yourself a secret.”

“It’s important to leave your face without makeup for a while after waking up... Let your skin breathe a while before applying your makeup, even if it means waking up a bit earlier."

“I sit in the sink [while applying makeup]. I do. I’ve broken more sinks... I sit in the sink, on top of a big square sink in my bathroom with my feet in the basin so I’m very close to the mirror with the good light, and I’m very comfortable. I also manage to put my two phones in the sink so that nothing, but nothing, could get me out of there."

“I really have fun making up. I have a good face for making up, good bones. I do the shapings, then the eyes. Then I put on mascara and I do something else. Then I put on mascara again and do something else. Then I put on more mascara and my whole face is completely made up.”

“It’s very often true that some women look better without makeup, but that’s only during the day."

"Even if your skin is perfect, even if it’s glowing and beautiful, electric lights defeat you. They deaden the complexion, make it look drab. They rob you of color... In the evening, you just can’t play the natural kid bit, that fresh-scrubbed look.”

“What makes you attractive is being yourself, being natural, being unaware. Even though makeup is important, you should do it all, and then forget about it. You don’t want to look like anyone else, any more than you want to be anyone else. You want to look like you. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery—but it’s flattering to someone else. Not to you.”

“You don’t want to exaggerate any feature noticeably. I think only truly beautiful women can exaggerate and they usually don’t have to."

"No one should notice how your eyes are done or the color of your eyeshadow. They should just notice you and notice that you’re beautiful, that you have beautiful eyes.”

On Hair:

“As a little girl I suffered because of my hair, and the more people would tell me how lucky I was that I wouldn’t have to have permanents when I grew up, the more I hated them. The people, and my hair... My life became conditioned by my worst enemy, humidity, and a few little rain drops would make me do all kinds of things, like racing across a busy street during a red light.”

“In Sardinia one summer my best friend Marisa Berenson and I ironed each other’s hair. We used a hot laundry iron and took turns putting our hair on the ironing board, literally ironing it. That’s a recipe for straightening that may be highly successful, but is definitely not recommended."

"The easier your hair is to manage the happier you’ll be with it and the prettier you’ll feel.”

"Being attractive for a few hours some evening is hardly worth being that unattractive all day [in hot rollers]. Being yourself and being natural with a man is wonderful, but being downright unattractive with him is foolish."

On Fashion:

“It is more important to be pretty as a woman than to be fashionable.”

“One of the most important things about fashion is to dress as well as you can, look as attractive as you can, and at the same time be comfortable with yourself. Be easy about your clothes; forget about them.”

“If you’re not sure what to wear, if you don’t know how everyone else is going to be, then just be at your most beautiful."

"If there is one rule for dressing, for fashion, it’s pretty much the same rule as for everything else in life: Don’t go against yourself, don’t go against your own nature. It’s only going to show."

"If you’re short, don’t wear extremely high heels. After a certain age, you shouldn’t wear little girls' clothes. That’s going against your nature.”

On Sleep:

"Sleep is easier to make up than a unique evening."

On Nutrition:

“Resisting a beautiful chocolate cake or a wonderful foie gras is as difficult as [the idea of] saying no to Paul Newman."

"Taste is acquired. You may have to unlearn a taste for chocolate or ice cream.”

“What you eat is everything. What you eat is what you are.”

“It’s more important to be healthy and of good spirit than it is to be thin, just as it’s more important to be an attractive woman than a fashionable one.”

“Don’t let any of your good habits get boring. "

“Prepare your food attractively and serve it nicely.”

“You cannot have a healthy body without drinking a great deal of water. But remember, you can’t just drink a glass of water and tell a glass of water to please go straight to your skin and moisturize your complexion. Water has to be there all the time, doing what it does naturally in a healthy body.”

On Dieting and Body Image:

"If you’re a little hippy and full-bosomed, don’t try to remake yourself in the image of a skinny fashion model. It won’t work. You can trim down your hips. You should always concentrate on special movements to keep your breasts firm and lifted and young. Hippy and bosomy can be very nice, very desirable. Accept it.”

“If you’re trying to lose weight, you just have to eat less. I mean that.”

“Don’t talk about your diet. It’s just boring, and the last thing you need when dieting is to be considered boring."

“Be proud of yourself. Try to eat well....and when you cheat, enjoy it!”

On Exercise:

“Clothes can hide you from yourself but a bikini sure can’t.”

“I began to be involved [with exercise]. It was a little bit like sex sometimes— you know how sometimes you’re kind of disinterested, kind of uninvolved, and slowly you begin to become interested?”

“It’s like learning to fall properly. If you can manage not to tighten up you won’t hurt yourself as much. The same theory applies to your day, physically and emotionally. The tensions simply can’t take hold.”

On life in general:

“I think living is serious. Living well, accepting yourself, using your talents to the fullest, enjoying yourself, that’s all serious and important... But I think makeup and fashion should not be taken that seriously... You should have fun making up for a party. You should have fun wearing a sexy dress. When you’re beautiful it should give you pleasure.”

“The greatest natural enemy of women is insecurity. We all feel it and we all think we are the only ones who feel that way. How we deal with these fears determines to a great extent how effective we are in running our lives. Most women present a façade to the world and keep the insecurity locked inside. The toughest job in the world is to be a complete, happy woman.”

"That wonderful and terribly frightening journey of self-discovery. That process of growth, of being an independent person, of learning who you are and what you want from life, is the real secret of life, happiness and beauty.”

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Romina

    Love this woman.

  • Guest

    Top. Shelf. Her.

    • ck


    • guest

      oh absolutely, yes.

  • Colleen Oczkowski

    What timeless advice. I could just picture her lounging in a wrap dress coolly dispensing this advice over tea.

  • ❀ ✿ मоηiфце Γ ✿ ❀

    Thank you for this.

  • ashley

    this was such a good read! i have a whole new respect for this lady and share a lot of beauty mantras with her. thanks for sharing. :)

  • Denisa

    thank you. great.great.

  • NeenaJ


  • Lauren Ashley

    She's my hero!

  • mlle p

    She still looks fabulous so I believe her!

  • Sam

    I clicked expecting some anachronistic and possible sexist nonsense but the stuff she puts in there is actually very good, timeless Diane....

  • tishgrier

    DVF has been one of my designer heroes since I was a teen. Thanks so much for gleaning all these great quotes from her book (and I bet, if we really want the book, we can find used copies too.)

  • larissa

    Very ahead of her time, now I'm very curious about that book!

  • Aeryn Johnson

    This is so genius. I MUST know more about her "shapings!" Is she talking about contouring?

  • ROKderm

    Amazing! all excellent advice, and I love that part of beeing attractive is beeing unaware, that's beautiful.

  • Jennifer Klee

    Wow. She is our generation's Coco Chanel except 1000x more likable. Thank you for posting this!

  • Adeola Naomi Aderemi

    I will love to read the book from that woman!!!

  • ck

    love love LOVE this :)

  • ck

    lol@ 1000x more likable :) completely true

  • Elise H

    Thanks Emily, this totally speaks to me right now! You seem like a living example of DVF's standards. Xo

  • Lisi

    This is perfect. I want to type up my favorites and post them all over my house. Similar to her dvf patterned wrap dresses in the 70s. Just want her messages everywhere... thank you so much for this.

  • Linda Trapani

    THIS is why I read intothegloss. I died and went to heaven. DVF forever.

  • Ruzz Gahara

    my ultimate superwoman

  • Diamenrose

    Wow i loved this post and i feel like i have to read this book. Beautiful and encouraging.. Diane is iconic :)

    • ck

      totally - i wanna track down my own copy :) very eloquent and wise

  • ck

    tellin' it like it t-i-is :)

  • ck

    she should really think about re-releasing this. i think the world needs it now more than ever...

  • Jerrell

    Love this! Ordering from Amazon right this minute!

  • Marsha

    AMAZİNG! İ am going to send all my friends to İGT. Love Miss DVF

    Thanks Emily

  • Heather

    Her ex-husband's boon from the '70s is a must-have: The Power Look by Egon Von Furstenberg.

    • Heather

      i meant book!

  • Denis R

    Wow. The book look great. I like it. And she has perfect style.

  • Kelly

    Amazing! Thank you Emily!

  • My Pomp & Circumstance

    It's great how the book's standards from the 70's still uphold today. I love the idea that being the most attractive version of yourself is more important than being the most fashionable. And she states a point that most women still don't adhere to--talking about your diet is boring! "The toughest job in the world is to be a complete, happy woman." Apropos Diane, well done.

  • Liza

    Thanks so much for sharing, Emily. Diane von Furstenberg is truly inspiring; I think having the courage to be yourself is the most difficult thing for a woman to do. As a teenage girl, I often struggle with my insecurities, but I have to try to accept myself for who I am.

  • kneelbeforetigers

    Diane is a goddess. Love her for saying that it's important to love yourself, no matter what shape you're in. THE BEST.

  • Manal Khan

    Wisdom for the ages! Thank you for this!

  • Kaemicha

    What sage and magical advice. I can almost hear her telling us this. I'm so happy I found this site.

  • monica noir

    Oh I love these beauty and life advice books from fabulous women. I have the Naomi Simms book and I am dying to get my hands on Zaza Gabore's book.

  • monica noir

    Ok, the book is now 66 bucks on amazon. I bet the price didn't shoot u until this post and traffic for the book went up. Le sigh I will hunt used bookstores until I get my very own copy of this book.

  • ash

    "Sleep is easier to make up than a unique evening."

    Oh Diane! Perfect!

  • Mouthfulofstyle

    Great advice. I'm printing this one out and putting on my inspiration board!

    Check out my blog - style insights and fashion business learnings.

  • Mouthfulofstyle

    Great advice! I'm printing this out and pinning on my inspiration wall.

    Beauty and style insights mixed with fashion business learnings: