BUST DIY GUIDE: Beyond Cutesy

Quirk sells, and the “BUST DIY Guide To Life” is every woman’s ticket to the party.

Words: Anna Graizbord
Images: Marianne Rafter

Zooey Deschanel’s glassy doll eyes on the cover of New York Magazine for an entire straight week was the aggressively twee icing on the cake of this inundation of so-called quirk we’re experiencing right now in Pop Culture. With the positive reception of shows like New Girl, the conspicuously large number of women who just “happen” to be super into ukeleles right now (at least in Brooklyn), and dumbed-down sites like Hello Giggle, the zeitgeist seems to be declaring in a very Shepard Fairey-an way that “Zooey has a posse”. So it is with great relief that I found The BUST DIY Guide to Life to not be a 350-some odd page manifesto dedicated to the wish that everyone look like a kitten.

Actually, The BUST DIY Guide to Life serves more of an Our Bodies, Ourselves function—much more of a practical and informative compilation than I had anticipated. Though not a woman’s guide to her body and biology, the book actually does happen to touch on sexual health and DIY sex toys to boot. If you’ve read BUST Magazine before, you’re probably familiar with the tone – playful, sometimes superficial, but never to the mindless level of Cosmo. That it’s a book rather than a magazine allows its functionality to carry more weight with information not just about crafts, cooking and beauty for women, but also about things like starting your own business, managing your finances, promoting yourself and your work, time management tips, and other topics that are rarely talked about in a non-judgy or pedantic way of the “guide” book genre. Though some of the section and chapter headers veer a little bit in the Crunch Gym-style, over-sexualized for no reason, double entendre overkill territory, the quality and quantity of the content more than makes up for it.

One of the most standout ways it’s obvious the BUST DIY Guide sets itself apart in the women-as-an-audience genre is that its craft projects are by and large very approachable to people who don’t eat, drink and breathe crafts or consider themselves in the business of housekeeping. Staying true to the DIY movement, most of the craft projects featured are fairly inexpensive and have a built-in allowance for personal creativity to share the spotlight. Definitely no rigid Martha Stewart-type rules or ridiculous pretensions of decorating your summer home in Nantucket. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—even someone who is looking to personalize their second home with DIY crafts would likely find this book to be very useful.

Not only is the style and nature of the projects approachable, but BUST really goes beyond showing basic step-by-steps. Littered throughout the book, there are various great pieces about practical, everyday situations like unclogging drains, getting the best use of your household tools, what to have stored at your house in case of a natural disaster (DIY Disaster Kit), cleaning without expensive chemicals, and even how to make cleaning and organizing less painful. As with BUST Magazine, as a member of its audience, your need for a certain degree of fantasy is fulfilled in its pretty packaging and beauty features, while your left brain is satisfied because you’re also learning about practical, interesting things that aren’t completely out of your grasp.

Especially in the “Your Style, Your Way” chapter which focuses on clothing and jewelry, BUST finds a way to demystify a lot of the more esoteric or difficult-seeming projects related to tailoring or creating your own clothes. If you’ve ever tried (and tried and tried) to use a sewing machine before, you’ll be sure to appreciate the two-page diagram and guide to all its many, many nuances. If sewing machines aren’t your thing, there are a plethora of hand-sewing projects to choose from—many of which could save a lot of money and that one might not have thought possible for a basic skill level. Altering a boxy blouse is by far my most favorite discovery of the chapter, as I’m sure anyone who frequently goes vintage clothes shopping would agree.

One of the most impressive chapters that falls more on the long-term planning side of the guide book genre is the final chapter called “Moving & Shaking”, featuring advice about real estate, finance, traveling on your own, re-booting your career and even navigating the logistics of the death of a loved one. One of my favorite sections in this chapter includes a piece about the best strategies in saving money and the importance of creating a “Fuck You Fund” for when you need to immediately quit a job or get away from a dangerous/undesirable domestic situation. There couldn’t really be more of a relevant subject than money and money management–kudos to BUST for not wanting to gloss over the often less-than-fun realities of adult life and allowing women (who might otherwise be intimidated) a chance to familiarize themselves with these concepts in a non-scary/non-patronizing way.

Though its candy-colored looks alone make a great coffee table book, most will discover The BUST DIY Guide to Life to be more of a dog-eared companion–whether you’re a college student beginning to adjust to adult life or, well, an adult still getting used to fine-tuning an adult life. Even if you’re just a super moody person, this book will have something for you at each turn. Instead of shoving cupcakes and “putting a bird on it” down your throat, The BUST DIY Guide to Life offers something a little more thoughtful without taking itself too seriously.

Images courtesy of Marianne Rafter.

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