13 Books About Fashion You Need to Read

Posted on 06 July 2017

 Fresh On The Mind: 13 Books About Fashion You Need To Read



The fashion industry can be a tough business to conquer. To have a much better perspective on how it works and the tips from the fashion icons themselves, you only need to do one thing, and that is to read books written for fashion.


If you're seeking to understand fashion better, begin by reading these suggested books that can be a foundation towards knowledge about the fashion industry and fashion itself. From profit margins to marketing to autobiographies, and books that point to a particular time in the history of fashion, these thirteen books will offer you a broad overview of the factors over the years that shaped how fashion is today.


“Women In Clothes” by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton



Though relatively new, Women in Clothes is a book that is a compilation of conversation among hundreds of women all over the globe of all nationalities, may it be famous, anonymous, single, married, young, or old. The women answered questions about their feelings and perceptions about fashion and how the clothes we wear can shape and define our lives.


A survey written by the authors prompted women to think more deeply about their fashion and lifestyle. Artists, writers, and many others including Roxane Gay, Tavi Gevinson, and Kim Gordon answered the questions with a series of interviews, illustrations, and photographs.


This book reveals and embraces the complexity of women's style decisions that influence the daily ritual of dressing to impress.


 “Champagne Supernovas” by Maureen Callahan




The book talks about the lives of Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, and Alexander McQueen- the stars of 90's fashion. The author, Maureen Callahan gives the inside scoop of when the alternative became the mainstream, and how fashion became the most artistic innovations of the age.


The book also consists of the trio’s personal lives, and how fashion shaped the way they lived. Packed with stories from personalities of the 90's, it tells the story of how losers and freaks became the superstars of the decade, and how they made a difference in spite of themselves.


“Shocking Life” by Elsa Schiaparelli




Elsa Schiaparelli, one of the leading fashion designers of the 1920's, 30's, and 40's, writes about her personal life and how she rose to fame. From her team of women who helped her knit the first sweater for her company, to the years of war when she worked for American Red Cross, to her role as a designer to the stars.


The book about Schiaparelli tells a story of rags to riches and is full of incredible stories that suggest important lessons that one needs to know when starting to conquer the world of fashion.


“Culture to Catwalk” by Kristin Knox




This book traces the cross-cultural references of designs made by western artists all around the globe. From Comme des Garcon's inspiration from African Textiles to traditional kimonos that inspired Diane von Furstenberg's iconic wrap dress, Culture to Catwalk tackles the different traditional dresses that inspired early designs of multiple fashion lines and traces the fashion industry down to its roots.


The book also talks about the backlash against globalization, fast-fashion, and why streetwear influences what stalks the catwalks. It features quotes and a series of interviews with designers and brands that have a reputation in the fashion industry.


“The Woman Who I Wanted To Be” by Diane von Furstenberg




An autobiography of one of the most influential and innovative fashion icon of today, Diane von Furstenberg tells her story about becoming the woman she wanted to be. From being a fashion designer to being a wife, mother, and grandmother, she tells her life story in the hopes that she can inspire others as well.


From starting out with a suitcase full of jersey dresses, she set a goal and wanted to be "the kind of woman who is independent and who doesn't rely on a man to pay her bills." And soon enough, she became the CEO of her self-established global brand, became a dominant force in the industry, and became the woman she wanted to be.


Packed with beautiful and inspiring stories about her life, "The Woman I Wanted To Be" tracks the life of a fashion icon—from rags to riches.


“I’ll Drink To That” by Betty Halbreich



Betty Halbreich tells her fashion experiences and life story in a new biography that talks about how she rose from a downfall to becoming a personal shopper at the legendary luxury store Bergdorf Goodman. She spent the last 40 years of her job and had stories, which are both charming and funny to tell in her new book.


Hardworking, meticulous, and delightfully funny, Betty Halbreich is an icon to many. She was never afraid to tell her clients straight about the fashion items she sells, and won't just sell something just to sell it. Halbreich talks about this and more in her book "I'll Drink To That."



"Fashion (Oxford History of Art)" by Christopher Breward




Christopher Breward offers a book with diverse topics about the last 150 years of fashion. With subjects that talk about the colorful and vibrant universe, describing the different trends and products that emerged during critical moments in the history of fashion. Breward talks about topics that exceed well beyond style and function of fashion trends.


This book contains a well-illustrated overview of the history of modern fashion. Breward also talks about how fashion and film are related, and how fashion became a business. From ideas of fashion that helped shape a norm, like how a dress creates identity and status, Breward casts a different light to fashion innovations over the years.


The book also lists suggestions for further reading and includes a list of museums and galleries to visit when starting to engage with the fashion industry.


“The Beautiful Fall” by Alicia Drake


Alicia Drake documents how fashion in Paris during the 1970's became phenomenal due to two of fashion's most prominent designers, Yves Saint Laurent, and Karl Lagerfeld. The two divided Paris into two fashionable halves, and Drake told stories of Laurent and Lagerfeld's lives, their enduring rivalry, their shared obsessions, and their incredible quest for beauty.


Drake detailed so much of the two's personal lives that Lagerfeld sued Drake in 2006 for publishing so many personal details about his life. However, this doesn't erase the fact that Drake's book is an excellent read about how two people who fought a silent war through sequins and designs had changed the world of fashion forever.


"Gods and Kings" by Dana Thomas




A book that talks about the 1990's fashion, when John Galliano and Alexander McQueen rocked the fashion scene. Their bold visions shook the world through their minimalistic designs with vibrant styles and theatrical runway shows.


Gods and Kings tell the story of two exceptional artists that paved the way for a fashion revolution, each housed in two of the most storied fashion brands then, Galliano at Dior and McQueen at Givenchy.


Dana Thomas tackles about the real stories that happened when Galliano and McQueen ruled the fashion industry. And in doing so, she puts light on the rebirth of high fashion over the last two decades, and the consequence it demanded from the very ones who saved it.


"The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History" by Robin Givhan


This book talks about the Battle of Versailles, on how American Fashion made its way to the fashion scene, back when French designers dominated the world of fashion and were considered best in the world.


The Battle Of Versailles tells what happened during November 28, 1973, when the social elites gathered at the Palace of Versailles for a fashion show, a battle between five Americans designers and five of the best French artists, and transformed the fashion industry forever.


Pulitzer-Prize winning fashion journalist Robin Givhan recounts the moments that happened during the thrilling battle, an event that reinvented the world of fashion when Americans put their names on the labels through their sensibility and taste. This book examines the single moment the fashion industry became what it is today.


"Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster" by Dana Thomas



Before, luxury was used to connote a certain quality and was only available to the aristocratic world of money and royalty. Today, however, it's a term widely used to describe brands of a certain price point, whatever fashion items they offer. It has faded into fashion items, and products sold by multibillion-dollar global corporations focused on advertising and profit.


Dana Thomas, in her second book in the list, digs deep into the evolution of luxury, revealing how top brands sacrifice quality for profits and other secrets which they don't want the world to know. Deluxe is a fashion book aimed at looking at luxury differently, and knowing that behind the leather clothing is a mystery yet unveiled.


"Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion" by Elizabeth Cline


The book Overdressed talks about the nature of affordable fashion in all its glitz and glory. Cheap fashion has changed the way most Americans dress. In 1965, 95 percent of the clothes Americans bought and wore were from American manufacturers, but the numbers today tell a different story. It's less than 3 percent.


Elizabeth Cline, in her book Overdressed, talks about what cheap fashion is doing to the inhabitants of the world, the environment, and the society's economic state. She uncovers the truth about the power of cheap fashion and how it is changing the globe.


"The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever" by Teri Agins



Long ago, fashion items could only be bought by the elite, but the world today has changed, and fashion is now catering mainstream consumers. The book The End of Fashion tackles this exact debacle about how creativity has channeled more into mass-marketing clothes rather than designing them.


Teri Agins talks about the gradual change and lays the fact and figures from the fashion industry. From manufacturing, retailing, licensing, and eventually, marketing. This book also talks about the rivalry of Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, the demand to make couture high-class that sent Isaac Mizrahi's business uphill, and the ups and downs of dressing the stars.


Witty and compelling, Agins provides the readers an overview of how the fashion industry works today.




When one is to describe fashion, it would be all about visuals and the glitz and glamor it offers. And while this is true, a lot can be said about fashion when it comes to writings. The history of fashion is a long one, from the people who shaped the way of crafting items, to the dealings and whatnots of the fashion industry today.


Hence, when starting to conquer the fashion industry, it's better to be equipped with knowledge, suggestions, and advice from the past, present, and future of fashion. Reading these 13 books, and maybe some more from recommended readings will help you in the pursuit of making high-calibre fashion.


Author’s Bio


author photo 

Fashion enthusiast, Leslie Wyman gives advice to fashion students who pursue fashion designing. She also writes for different blog sites about fashion and all related content that touches this subject. Leslie likes to update herself on various trends by browsing through sites that offer high-quality fashion items like French Connection. In her downtime, she reads books that are related to fashion and listens to calm music.





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