A present for yourself: the best style books and courses

by Sylvia

Recommended style books for women over 40

In my quest to define style, learn from the experts and be inspired, I enjoy reading books on style and photography. They are a lot fun to read and can actually be great gifts as well. Here are some style books that I have read and some that are on my wish list.

21 steps to a More Stylish You. My signature course, taught in the 40+Style Club.

Latest style books

The Gio_graphy book by style icon Giovanna Bataglia is already on the wishlist of some of our style members. 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? Ines de la Fressange: 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.

My personal favorites

I love your style – how to refine and define your personal style, by Amanda Brooks. This is 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: Schumann photographs both men and women on the streets worldwide. Great for your coffee table.

Style Forever: The Grown-Up Guide to Looking Fabulous. 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. this is 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.

The woman I wanted to be by Diane von Furstenberg. An inspiring biography from this iconic designer.

How not to look old: 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.

How to create ageless personal style in your 40s and beyond, Kendall 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’.

Staging your comeback, a complete beauty revival for women over 45, 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, Trinny @ Susannah. 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, Nina Garcia. Nina Garcia highlights 100 fashion items she believes we should all own.

The lucky guide to mastering any style, 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, 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.

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.

Rare bird of fashion: The irreverent Iris Apfel This book by Eric Boman about style icon Iris Apfel is on my wish list as well.

Humans of New York, beautiful quotes and photos of people in New York

Even more style books

Refinery 29 – Style stalking: lots of style inspiration from the creators of the popular blog Refinery 29

Style Evolution by Kendall Farr. How to create ageless personal style in your 40s and beyond. Read my review of style evolution.

A guide to quality, taste & style, Tim Gunn: not always that easy to read but a little guide I refer back to time and time again.

The Essentials of fabulous, by Ellen Lubin-Sherman: a book about how to be fabulous as a total person. For more information read my book review of the essentials of fabulous.

100 unforgettable dresses, Hal Rubenstein.

Love Style Life – A wonderful book about style and life by the stylish french Garance Doré.

The Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute, Fashion A History From The 18th To The 20th Century.

Influence, Mary-Kate Olsen

Audrey Style, Pamela Clarke Keogh

Jackie Style, Pamela Clarke Keogh

The power of style, Annette Tapert

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster, Dana Thomas

Instyle the New Secrets of Style: Your Complete Guide to Dressing Your Best Every Day, Jennifer Alfano

The Truth about Style, Stacey London

Fashion: 150 Years of Couturiers, Designers, Labels, Charlotte Seeling

The Power of Style, Annette Tapert

Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady, Derek Blasberg

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, Lisa Immordino Vreeland

Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning to Dress it Well, Sally McGraw

I Want to Be Her!: How Friends & Strangers Helped Shape My Style, Andrea Linett, Anne Johnston Albert

It, 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

Style Feed: The World’s Top Fashion Blogs, William Oliver, Susannah Lau

In my shoes: A personal account of the woman who grew Jimmy Choo into a billion dollar brand.

Fashion 2.0: Season of Change : 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: 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.

The fashion book: 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.

Beyond chic, 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, written by fabulous blogger Debbie Roes. This book will help you with your shopping addition and teach how you can look more stylish with fewer clothes.

What are your favorite style books?


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

1 Suzanne

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.

2 Sylvia

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!

3 Suzanne

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.

4 Sylvia

Good idea, I would not use too much on the eyes. And thanks so much for the book recommendation, will check it out.

5 Ofelia

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,

6 Sylvia

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!

7 Alex Elizabeth

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!

8 Sylvia

Thank you for your tip. I will check it out and add it to the list!

9 Heather Fonseca

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.

10 Sylvia

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.

11 Lisa

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.

12 Sylvia

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.

13 Nanne

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:)

14 Sylvia

I hope you’re lucky this year Nanne!

15 Silvergirl

great suggestions
i got the InStyle book last Christmas and really enjoyed it
will have to put some of these on my list this Christmas

16 Sylvia

Thanks for your input Brett. I have added the book to the list as well!

17 Laurie

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!

18 Leslie

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.

19 Sylvia

No I had not heard of this book yet. Thanks for the recommendation Leslie!

20 Joey

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.”

21 Sylvia

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.

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