Are you one of those people who eat, sleep, and breathe fashion? Do your conversations start and end with a tidbit about the latest trend doing the rounds of the catwalk? For a person who is so much in love with fashion as yourself, these books about style and fashion will only give you more to dream about.
The Rule Continues
Coco Chanel, the diva of all divas, is so popular amongst fashion writers that more than 28 biographies have been published till date, to quench the seemingly endless appetite people have to learn more about the grand dame of fashion.
What is it about fashion that makes so many women (and men) go weak in the knees? How has it become almost a religion for many people? And if it is a religion, what is their holy book? These are questions quite difficult to answer, especially the last one.
Ask fashion lovers you know, what their style Bible is, and the answers you get will vary so greatly that it can boggle your mind. From tales that trace the style evolution of girls, to encyclopedias that educate you about every single term that could be a part of the fashion world, the kind of books which are must-haves in a fashionista’s bookshelf are varied and diverse. In this Fashionhance article, we give you a list of 14 books that we believe define the fashion world, and should definitely be on the reading list for any girl or guy who adores fashion.
14 Books Which Define the World of Fashion
It is always difficult to make a list of must-read books, especially one that will appeal to all. With this list, too, the case may be that you will not agree with us. But do give these books a read. You may just find a new favorite.
The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever
Author: Teri Agins
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Year: 1999
Synopsis: As a journalist with years of experience in fashion reportage, Wall Street Journal reporter Teri Agins showcases astute observation by talking about how fashion, under the influence of consumerism, has evolved from a creatively charged industry to one driven by mainstream demands. With insider stories on the many feuds and rivalries in the industry, it is a tell-all book on how much fashion has bowed down to economically-driven demands.
Why You Should Read It: For anyone starting out in the industry, especially as a writer, this is a one-stop learning guide. It will teach you about the workings of the industry from a purely business point of view. A must for anyone who wants a wholesome education of the fashion world.
Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster
Author: Dana Thomas
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Publication Year: 2007
Synopsis: Chronicling the luxury side of the fashion industry over the years, the book traces its major overhaul. From a world which was synonymous with tradition, high-quality, and consumer pampering, it has turned into an industry made of multi-million dollar corporations which outsource manufacturing instead of relying on handcrafted products. How has this change taken place and when did luxury become mass-driven? That is the question Thomas asks and answers in this exposé.
Why You Should Read It: The foundation of this book is that by going mass-market, the luxury fashion industry has compromised on luxury and in effect, privilege. This has caused debates about the book and the author’s inherent prejudices. But it is an interesting study on luxury products, their demand, and how consumerism has led to its downfall.
Stylist: The Interpreters of Fashion
Contributors: Sarah Mower and Raul Martinez
Publication Year: 2007
Synopsis: With a foreword by Anna Wintour herself, the book highlights those geniuses of the fashion industry who make and break the rules that run the place. Featuring 16 of the top stylists of the industry today, including Carine Roitfeld, Grace Coddington, Polly Mellen, and Camilla Nickerson, the book chronicles their work, talks about their inspiration, highlights their style, and tells its readers what the industry thinks of them.
Why You Should Read It: Ever wondered who declares some trends as the next big thing? Welcome to the world of fashion stylists! If you love everything fashion, then this book will serve as your inspiration. Learn from the best in the industry. See how they look at trends, how their originality sets them apart, and how they reached the zenith of their field.
The Little Black Book of Style
Author: Nina Garcia
Publisher: It Books
Publication Year: 2007
Synopsis: A timeless book about how you can search for your own style and focus on showcasing your identity by dressing well. Garcia, a fashion icon and a judge on Project Runway, definitely knows how to put together an outfit, and she gives you the lowdown on building a wardrobe, wearing occasion-appropriate clothes, developing good taste, combining the right colors, etc. While written to guide you to discover your style voice, it never forces opinions down your throat. It is a lesson on why style is eternal.
Why You Should Read It: If you are just wetting your toes and discovering the very confusing world of fashion, this is the perfect book to get you started. With tips on developing your fashion sense, buying timeless, quality clothing, and having a minimalistic closet, it is a bookshelf must-have.
The Devil Wears Prada
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Publication Year: 2003
Synopsis: Everyone has their own story about a boss from hell. But this is a story about the boss whom all these bosses fear. An intern who lands the job ‘a million girls would die for’, discovers that working for a fabulously famous editor at a glamorous fashion magazine is not all it is made out to be. Smart and witty, it’s a sneak peek into the deep, dark actuality of the fashion and publishing industry. And it asks a question asked time and again, is the job worth your soul?
Why You Should Read It: Based on Weisberger’s stint with Anna Wintour, it is a fun, light read that will keep you engrossed. Funny, witty, and snarky in bits, it should be taken at face value and not as a deep, insightful viewpoint on the fashion writing industry. What makes the book more interesting is the movie based on it. Read the book and then watch the movie. Makes for an interesting comparison.
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publication Year: 2003
Synopsis: Fashion is fun, functional, and fabulous. But what if it is not frugal? The Shopaholic series, which started with this book, is the story of Becky Bloomwood, fashion slave, who just can’t control her purse strings. What happens when she is hired to write a savings column, when she is dismally in debt herself, and more importantly, how she repays her debt, that is the crux of this fun book which should be included in your summer reading list.
Why You Should Read It: Yes, fashion is awesome, and we all love it. But how many of us have spent the last buck in our pocket buying that gorgeous accessory in the flea market? And how many times have we maxed our credit card to buy a gorgeous dress? If a lesson in budgeting is what you need, there can’t be a more pleasant way of learning than this book.
Style Diaries: World Fashion From Berlin To Tokyo
Author: Simone Werle
Publisher: Prestel Publishing
Publication Year: 2010
Synopsis: More often than not, the biggest trends are not decided on the runways in Paris or Milan. It could start on a street in New York or a district in Tokyo. The movers and shakers of the fashion industry aren’t always the stylists, designers, and editors. They are common people who create style statements with flea market finds and eBay treasures. And they are blogging about it. Style Diaries features fifty of the most-followed fashion bloggers and showcases their style.
Why You Should Read It: We all have our favorite blogger; that website we open as soon as we can register things in the morning. Now read about this vibrant community of people whose hard work is primarily responsible for making fashion more accessible.
100 Ideas That Changed Fashion
Author: Harriet Worsley
Publisher: Laurence King Publishers
Publication Year: 2011
Synopsis: A fashion Bible which draws a timeline to talk about the various fashion ideas that have changed the language of style in the past century, it is a great read. Worsley highlights trends, moments, incidents, and ideas that have changed the way we dress and present ourselves. While there are other books that also chronicle these changes, this book is unique in its explanation of the events. From the LBD to the bias cut and the stiletto heel, there’s a lot to look for in this book.
Why You Should Read It: A revolution is always a revolution, and even in the fashion industry, there have been ideas and incidents that have brought a radical change in our dressing style. For a fashionista who loves style, you should definitely read about those moments that have changed the way we look at fashion.
The Sartorialist: Closer
Author: Scott Schuman
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Year: 2012
Synopsis: Schuman’s second book is as, if not more, beautiful as his first book. A collection of photographs of some of the most stylish men and women on the street, its beauty lies in its simplicity and the uniqueness of Schuman’s vision. In his second book, Scott chooses to observe the diversity of style and attitude in people from across the world, including photographs from places like Japan, Korea, London, Milan, etc.
Why You Should Read It: The Sartorialist, the blog, is a personal favorite and the book retains the beauty of the blog while going deeper. It’s the perfect amalgamation of the visual sensibility of the author and vibrancy of the street style community. We suggest it for bringing newer forms of inspiration to wannabe fashionistas.
The Vogue Factor
Author: Kirstie Clements
Publisher: Melbourne University Press
Publication Year: 2013
Synopsis: In 2012, Clements was fired from her job as editor-in-chief, Vogue Australia. She retorted by writing a tell-all book that exposed the very grimy and dirty underbelly of the fashion world. While it is a memoir in part, tracing her journey from the front desk to the editor-in-chief, it also talks about things such as the bizarre methods models take to so that they lose weight. While it has its share of name-dropping, the book also allows you to tour the fashion world for a bit.
Why You Should Read It: More famous for the hype surrounding her dismissal, Clements’ book leaves you wanting more in parts. It does talk about the world of fashion and is an interesting read, but it glosses over her trials to reach the top. What makes it a fun read is the humor, drama, and warmth that is thrown in for good measure.
I Want To Be Her!: How Both Friends and Strangers Helped Shape My Style
Author: Andrea Linett
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Year: 2012
Synopsis: Written by the co-founder of Lucky magazine, a truly inspiring and trusted fashion writer, this book is a part memoir, part guide, and it is perfect for anyone finding their way in the world of fashion. It chronicles Linett’s style evolution and her interaction with 50 women, strangers and intimate friends, who have all helped her develop her own style. Her memories make the book a must-read, and the illustrations bring the story to life.
Why You Should Read It: The only reason you need to read this book is that it is written by Andrea Linett. Add to that, the fact that it makes fashion seem simple and attainable, and you have a winner of a book in your hands. Don’t miss this one.
Fashion A to Z: An Illustrated Dictionary
Authors: Alex Newman and Zakee Shariff
Publisher: Laurence King Publishers
Publication Year: 2009
Synopsis: A fashion encyclopedia of sorts, this book is a compilation of every single term related to clothes that you can think about. Not only does it describe it in words, it is also illustrated with gorgeous diagrams and drawings to understand the terms better. Aimed at the modern-day fashion student, this book by Newman and Shariff makes for an interesting addition to any fashion library.
Why You Should Read It: If you are serious about making a career in the world of fashion, you need to know everything there is to know. And while this is a far-from-easy task, Fashion A to Z makes your life slightly simpler. Buy this book and make it your go-to guide on anything fashion.
The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman
Author: Karen Karbo
Publication Year: 2009
Synopsis: There have been several books written about Coco Chanel, and why not? She, without doubt, changed the face of modern fashion. What is different about Karbo’s book is that it does not just detail her work in fashion, but also talks about her ideologies on a number of things from money and success to womanhood and being true to yourself. It is truly an observation of how Coco viewed the world, and how she lived and ruled.
Why You Should Read It: What can you say about the original diva of fashion that hasn’t been said before? Karbo’s book is an interesting view of the effect that one of the most influential people in the fashion world has had on it. If you want to learn about her view on life, her passions, and her philosophies, then this book is a must-read.
Autobiography of a Wardrobe
Author: Elizabeth Kendall
Publication Year: 2008
Synopsis: Tracing the evolution of style is quite a normal, maybe a tad overdone, way of writing a fashion book. But what when the story is narrated by a wardrobe? This extremely interesting novel is the story of girl referred to in the book as B. and how her style evolves as she grows. The story parallelly traces B.’s struggles in life, and the wardrobe’s woes as it deals with problems like hand-me-downs, plump mid-sections, and trial-and-error style lessons. Part autobiography and part a lesson in history, it is also a story of life and its many challenges.
Why You Should Read It: If you are on the lookout for something that takes a novel perspective to things, then this is the book for you. It gives out a bigger message of handling what life throws your way while talking about everyday issues and changes in the world, and how the protagonist and the narrator deal with it. Read it if you are looking for a bit of history, fashion, fiction, and inspiration rolled into one.
While these are some of our favorite fashion reads, there are other books that we believe deserve a mention here. These include:
- Influence by Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen
- Style A to Zoe: The Art of Fashion, Beauty, & Everything Glamour, by Rachel Zoe
- What On Earth Are You Wearing?: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Fashion by Chloe Quigley And Daniel Pollock
- The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf
- The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris by Alicia Drake
In no way exhaustive, this is a subjective list of fashion-related novels and books. Whether you are someone who has just started exploring this world, or someone who wants a new perspective on a world you are already familiar with, these books will offer you something unique and definitely interest the bibliophile in you.