In my quest to define style, learn from the experts and be inspired, I enjoy reading fashion books on style and photography.
Fashion books as gifts
They are a lot of fun to read and can actually be great gifts as well.
So, if you are looking for a gift for a style-conscious loved one this festive season, or you want to drop some heavy hints to Santa about what to buy you, this is the ultimate list of style books.
For more inspiration look at the best gifts for women over 40.
Here are some style books that I have read and some that are on my wish list.
You’ll find the very latest newly released style books, my top 10 of books that are a little bit older, along with some beautiful image-based coffee table books.
10 of the very latest style books for you – new releases
If you think you’ve read every book on style there is, you’re in luck because there are some fantastic options which have been released this year.
Here are some of the very latest to choose from.
1. Legendary Artists and the Clothes They Wore – Terry Newman
I love the diversity of styles in this book, the way art and fashion are intertwined as well as the explanation about what each artist’s signature style is.
Legendary Artists and the Clothes They Wore
2. Bill Cunningham: On the Street: Five Decades of Iconic Photography – New York Times
If you get your fashion inspiration from what you see stylish women wearing on the street, this is the book for you.
Bill Cunningham: On the Street: Five Decades of Iconic Photography
3. Fashion, New Edition: The Definitive Visual Guide (Smithsonian) – DK
This one is more of an educational book, and a fascinating one it is to. It takes you from Ancient Egypt to the catwalks of today.
Fashion, New Edition: The Definitive Visual Guide (Smithsonian)
4. Paris, Capital of Fashion – Valerie Steele
Paris is often described as the fashion capital of the world, and this book explains why.
5. The International Best Dressed List: The Official Story – Amy Fine Collins
This tells the story of the international best-dressed list launched by American fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert.
Inside, you’ll find everyone from Grace Kelly to Jackie Kennedy, Twiggy to Bianca Jagger.
The International Best Dressed List: The Official Story
6. Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes – Dana Thomas
If sustainable fashion is your thing, then this is your book.
Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes
7. Marc Jacobs Illustrated – Grace Coddington & Marc Jacobs
If you love Marc Jacobs and want to see how he sketches his designs before they are brought to life, this is a beautiful book to have.
8. Tonne Goodman: Point of View – Tonne Goodman
Go behind the scenes at Vogue with model-turned-fashion director Tonne Goodman.
9. Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazine – Vince Aletti
A specially-curated collection of 100 significant magazine issues chosen by acclaimed photography critic Vince Aletti.
Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazine
10. Killer Style: How Fashion Has Injured, Maimed, and Murdered Through History – Matthews David, Alison & Serah-Marie McMahon
Something a bit quirkier for you, that’s bound to provoke discussion, this is a non-fiction book which explains why fashion through the ages has been lethal.
Killer Style: How Fashion Has Injured, Maimed, and Murdered Through History
the best fashion books to inspire you
Of course, you don’t have to choose only from style books which have been launched this year.
There are plenty of inspiring choices here which aren’t quite as recent, just in case you haven’t already discovered them.
There are plenty of autobiographies and biographies as I felt like you might want something you could get your teeth into over the festive holiday.
The Woman I Wanted to Be by Diane Von Furstenberg
This is definitely one of my favorite fashion books. It’s an inspiring biography from this iconic designer.
I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist by Betty Halbreich
She may be in her 80s, but Betty Halbreich is showing no signs of slowing down.
She has spent nearly 40 years as the legendary personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman, dishing out frank advice and her own brand of wisdom to socialites, stars and women who need her guidance.
Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon by Iris Apfel
Iris Apfel became a household name in 2004 at the age of 83 when her closet became the subject of a Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibition.
Known for her sense of humor and her trademark round classes, she has become a leading light in the fight against fashion in the fashion industry.
One of the best fashion books around, this is a mix of musings and photographs, including some never-before-published images.
D.V. – Diana Vreeland
D.V., Diana Vreeland. I loved this book which is full of great anecdotes and small stories of Diana Vreeland’s life in a bygone era.
Yves Saint Laurent: A Biography by Laurence Benaim
This is relatively new among current fashion books, so it’s on my to-read list. Let me know if you’re already read it and what you think of it.
It chronicles his star trajectory which led to him leading the House of Dior to his fall from grace, and rise again, with interviews from his partner Pierre Bergé as well as staff, family and muses.
I’d like to read about his concept for the Le Smoking suit for women, which quickly became a sexy alternative to the little black dress.
Isabella Blow: A Life in Fashion by Lauren Goldstein Crowe
Credited with discovering Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy, editor and muse Isabella Bow was rarely seen without an eccentric hat.
She tragically committed suicide at the age of just 48, but the legacy of this woman who started her career as Anna Wintour’s assistant lives on.
Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington
Beautiful. Willful. Charming. Blunt – that’s how Grace Coddington is described in the blurb for her book.
She talks through her early career as a model, working the David Bailey, to stepping behind the camera to become fashion editor at British Vogue in the Swinging Sixties.
She moved onto American Vogue in the Eighties, and takes you behind the scenes as iconic Vogue shoots as well as revealing her private life, including a car crash which almost killed her, her two marriages, and her enduring friendship with Anna Wintour.
Once only known to those in the industry, she was thrust into the spotlight with the movie The September Issue, which tells of how Vogue puts together its greatest issue of the year.
Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie
No top 10 of fashion books would be complete without at least one Coco Chanel tome in there.
This biography by Justine Picardie is based on personal interviews with Chanel’s last surviving family, friends and employees. It starts with her life in an orphanage and charts her rise to one of the most powerful figures in fashion history.
Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You by Simon Doonan
If you’re looking for something a little different with a sense of humor, this might just be it.
Not your typical how-to manual, this is about tapping into your existing idiosyncrasies to develop a totally unique style. It’s a mix of essays combined with interviews with eccentric women of the world such as Tilda Swinton.
Holly Would Dream by Karen Quinn
Just in case you’re looking for an easy beach vacation read, this novel will be perfect for you.
This wins praise for it’s old-school Hollywood glamour and the Rome setting. It’s a classic rom-com for an easy summer read.
Gio Graphy: Fun in the Widescreens World of Fashion by Giovanna Bataglia
This book by the style icon Giovanna Bataglia is already on the wishlist of many of you. Giovanna is a style icon for many and this book is sure going to inspire you.
Parisian Chic Look Book: What Should I Wear Today? by Ines de la Fressange
This book is for those that can never get enough of French style.
The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe
Learn how to create a closet you love.
Best fashion books: My personal favorites
I Love Your Style – How to Refine and Define Your Personal Style by Amanda Brooks
A book I personally enjoyed and you can read my review.
Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen
Be inspired by amazing style of these women over 60! Read my review of advanced style.
The Sartorialist X by Scott Schuman
Schumann photographs both men and women on the streets worldwide. Great for your coffee table.
Style Forever: The Grown-Up Guide to Looking Fabulous by Alyson Walsh
Alyson Walsh is a journalist and blogger and she has a very down-to-earth approach to style.
Her book gives you clear guidelines on how to achieve timeless effortless style. Find out which style tribe you feel you belong to or get inspired by the many stylish women that are featured in the book.
American Fashion by Charlie Schelps
A book recommended by Oprah, that provides a richly illustrated celebration of the history of fashion in America. Looks really interesting with lots of pictures from icons like Lauren Bacall and Madonna.
How Not to Look Old by Karla Krupp
Fast and effortless ways to look 10 years younger, 10 pounds lighter, 10 times better. A fun book with quick and good tips to dress well and look well as you get old. Read my review of How not to look old.
Staging Your Comeback, A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45 by Christopher Hopkins.
Currently on my to read table, this book offers a lot of practical tips with lots of illustrations on how to look great over 45.
The Body Shape Bible by Trinny Woodall & Susannah Constantine
The ultimate guide on body shape and how to dress for your shape. They identify 12 unique shapes and provide excellent dressing advice for each.
The One Hundred by Nina Garcia
Nina Garcia highlights 100 fashion items she believes we should all own.
The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style by Kim France and Andrea Linett
This book goes into detail about various styles and describes how to achieve them. Illustrated with lots of clothing examples and images. Review coming soon.
Style Statement, Live by Your Own Design by Carrie McCarthy & Danielle LaPorte
Find out what defines you and the 2 words that describe your style. Find out more in my own review: how to discover your style statement or read about my own style statement.
Parisian Chic, A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange
If you want to add a bit of parisian style to your wardrobe then Ines offers many tips on how to get it. For more info you can read the parisian chic book review.
Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel by Eric Boman
This book by Eric Boman about style icon Iris Apfelis on my wish list as well.
Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
A book on beautiful quotes and photos of people in New York.
Even more style books I think you’ll love
Refinery 29: Style Stalking by Pia Gelardi and Christene Barberich
Style stalking: lots of style inspiration from the creators of the popular blog Refinery 29
It by Alexa Chung
The darling of the fashion world and co-host of the music TV show Fuse News shares her inspirations, musings, and her own very personal and eclectic style.
The Essentials of Fabulous by Ellen Lubin-Sherman
Abook about how to be fabulous as a total person. For more information read my book review of the essentials of fabulous.
Love Style Life by Garance Doré
A wonderful book about style and life by the stylish French Garance Doré.
Influence by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
The Power of Style by Annette Tapert
Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster by Dana Thomas
Instyle the New Secrets of Style: Your Complete Guide to Dressing Your Best Every Day by Jennifer Alfano
The Truth About Style by Stacey London
Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady by Derek Blasberg
3.3 stars, 60 reviews
“This is a great book with wonderful advices for just about everything a young a lady goes through.” – Shavana
Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning to Dress it Well by Sally McGraw
I Want to Be Her!: How Friends & Strangers Helped Shape My Style by Andrea Linett and Anne Johnston Albert
Style Feed: The World’s Top Fashion Blogs by William Oliver and Susannah Lau
In My Shoes: A Memoir by Tamara Mellon and William Patrick
A personal account of the woman who grew Jimmy Choo into a billion dollar brand.
Fashion 2.0: Season of Change by Yuli Ziv
A Forecast of Digital Trends Set to Disrupt the Fashion Industry, Yul Ziv: If you like to know more about the fashion industry and digital media.
The World According to Karl by Jean-Christophe Napias
Karl Lagerfeld’s quick wit and silver tongue are as notorious as Chanel’s quilted handbag. This book is a cornucopia of his Karlisms: cultivated, unpredictable, provocative, sometimes shocking, but always impossible to ignore.
Beyond Chic by Ivan Terestchenko
Look into the homes of designers like Chanel, Alaïa, Yves Saint Laurent, Pucci, Kenzo, and Missoni.
Unshopping: Recovery Solutions from an Ex-shopaholic by Debbie Roes
This book will help you with your shopping addition and teach how you can look more stylish with fewer clothes.
Style Evolution: How to Create Ageless Personal Style in Your 40s and Beyond by Kendall Farr
Farr shows readers how to create a hip, ageless, individual sense of personal style without feeding into the culture’s deep obsession with looking “young.” High on my ‘to read list’. Read my review of style evolution.
A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style by Tim Gunn
Not always that easy to read but a little guide I refer back to time and time again.
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel by Lisa Immordino Vreeland
This one chronicles 50 years of international fashion.
Fashion history books
If you love to read about the history of fashion, these choices may be for you.
Fashion: 150 Years of Couturiers, Designers, Labels by Charlotte Seeling
The Fashion Book by Editors of Phaidon
New and extended edition: Spanning almost 200 years, this is a massive A-to-Z encyclopedia of fashion packed with hundreds of profiles designers, photographers, style icons, models, and retailers.
Audrey Style by Pamela Clarke Keogh
Who is your favorite style icon from history? If it’s Audrey, then this book is a fabulous read.
Jackie Style by Pamela Clarke Keogh
If you prefer the style of Jackie O, you may wish to opt for this one.
Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century (Collection from the Kyoto Costume Institute) by Akiko Fukai
100 Unforgettable Dresses by Hal Rubenstein
I love this one for showing how a dress can become part of history.
Fashion coffee table books
If you’re looking for a book you can dip in and out of yourself as well as to provide interest to your visitors, you may want to look at some of these chunkier tomes.
Chanel coffee table book
Chanel: Collections and Creations by Daniele Bott
Louis Vuitton coffee table book
Louis Vuitton: The Birth of Modern Luxury by Louis Vuitton
Tom Ford by Tom Ford and Bridget Foley
Reviewers do mention some nudity in this one.
Alexander McQueen book
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton
Vogue: The Covers by Dodie Kazanjian
What are your favorite style books?
p.s. Looking for something more substantial?
Take my signature course: 21 steps to a more stylish you and truly discover and finetune your unique style!
UPDATE: this list is constantly updated with my new finds and recommendations from readers. If you know of a great style or coffee table book, let me know! I also have a complete gift guide with other gift ideas for women over 40
Feature image by fashionmagazine.com
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A great book that I don’t see on your list is “How to have Style” by Isaac Mizrahi.
I first got it from a library, but liked it so much that I bought a copy.
It starts with a questionnaire to help one identify what you what to achieve stylewise, followed by a section on potential sources of inspiration, and in subsequent chapters tackles different style questions using real women.
My favourites are:
How to have style ……
when travelling on business
and reinvent yourself
and wear denim
and wear colors
and wake up from a jeans coma
There is a section on what one needs to have (types of shoes, bags, jewellery, instant style ideas).
The last section has suggestions to work on to help one develop one’s style.
There are plenty of photographs illustrating his suggestions and advice.
I like his idea of an inspiration board (one pins on it any images one likes, or even scraps of fabric, etc) (mine is actually in the form of a few scrapbooks with pictures of clothes, jewellery and colour combinations I like) – if I need inspiration, I page through them.
And I really like his take on splurging:
“Knowing when to splurge is an art. There are just two rules: Splurge on the most classic item in the world. You will have and cherish it forever. Splurge on the most insane thing in the world. You will have and cherish it forever.”
Thanks for your great feedback Joey. I will add this book to the list. You may want to have a look at my style challenge as well and go through the questions.
I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this one, but a great book about personal style over 40 is Sherrie Matheson’s “Forever Cool.” It’s a favourite.
No I had not heard of this book yet. Thanks for the recommendation Leslie!
I am currently reading a style book called FABULOUS YOU: UNLOCK YOUR PERFECT PERSONAL STYLE. It is by Tori Hartman, Berkley Books, New York. c 1995.
Although the copyright is 1995, there are many good style ideas in this great book!
i got the InStyle book last Christmas and really enjoyed it
will have to put some of these on my list this Christmas
Thanks for your input Brett. I have added the book to the list as well!
I love style books, but even though I’ve put them on my wish list for some years now, they’re not to be found under the Christmas tree! Guess I just have to buy them myself:)
I hope you’re lucky this year Nanne!
I have several older books by Trinny and Susannah which were excellent. Excited to see this new one. I like to read about past style icons as one more point of view…not to emulate their style per se, but rather to pick up a few good timeless style nuggets. I like “AudreyStyle” and “JackieStyle”, both by Pamela Clarke Keogh. In this vein, I also like “The Power of Style”, by Annette Tapert and Diana Edkins which profiles the style of Chanel, Diana Vreeland, Elsie De Wolf, Mona Bismarck and Jackie O. Another book I loved (that is slightly off topic) is called Deluxe: How Luxury Lost It’s Luster, by Dana Thomas, The book looks at the fascinating changes in the luxury industry over the last several decades. It affects greatly what we have to choose from.
Some excellent tips Lisa! I too like to be inspired by the icons of the past. “I love your style” features many of those icons, but The Power of Style sounds great too. I will add it to the list. I still plan to feature many of these icons on the site as well. I will add your suggested books to the list.
The Kyoto collection that Ofelia mentions has been on my official Amazon wish list for 2 years now! I keep hoping someone will buy it for me as it’s rather expensive.
Anyway, I have read a few style books and one of my favorites was the “Lucky Magazine” one. It’s a lot of fun. I like your list! I’ll have to check a few of those out, the only problem with giving one is I would worry that the person would think it was a broad hint to their lack of fashion sense.
You are right Heather. I was actually wondering wether I should not make it more a coffee table / style inspiration kind of list. I think I will just add to this list and add the coffee table books to it. It will be nice to have a good comprehensive list of wonderful style books on this site! Thanks for your feedback.
I have The Little Black Book of Style by Nina Garcia, but not The One Hundred… I should put it on my list! My favorite fashion book is probably Influence by MKA. Not strictly fashion, but very interesting!
Thank you for your tip. I will check it out and add it to the list!
I own The Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute, Fashion A History From The 18th To The 20th Century, its about 800 pages full with amazing photos and the historical background of the pieces shown.
It took me almost half a year to read it and really comprehend the amazing and intricate details in every page.
As a lover of fashion, history and photography this book still remains one of my all times favorite.
Have a great week,
That sounds like an amazing book Ofelia. And a wonderful christmas present. I will add it to the list soon. Thank you so much for the feedback. I’m going to add this to my wishlist!
I hope Santa brings me the new Hal Rubenstine (Fashion Director of InStyle magazine) book “100 Unforgetable Dresses”. It looks amazing. He has fabulous taste.
Thanks for the tip Suzanne. I’m going to add it to the list! Will be great to have a nice list of style books on the site to refer back to when we’re in for a little style impulse!
I am going to check out that book “Staging Your Comeback…” as I have noticed on different blogs that over 40s who wear eye makeup look vibrant. I think paler faces can benefit from that added bit of color. I am never without mascara but think it is time to add more product. 🙂
For people who are into photography add the book “Linda McCartney: Life In Photographs” to your list of must reads. She was truly talented and very much loved.
Good idea, I would not use too much on the eyes. And thanks so much for the book recommendation, will check it out.