20 Incredible Books Covering the History of Fashion

best history of fashion books

Fashion — although some dismiss it as superficial — connects us both most intimately to our bodies as well as to wider social and cultural norms, making it an overarching element of our world. Here are 20 books that will take you on a journey through the history of fashion.


20 of the Best Fashion History Books


The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St Clair

The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St Clair

Adapted out of St Clair’s Elle Decoration column, this book uses color as a prism for exploring the social and cultural history of the world. Arranged by color, St Clair reveals that there’s more to a shade than meets the eye.

books - Fashion History From The 18th To The 20th Century by TASCHEN

Fashion History From The 18th To The 20th Century by TASCHEN

Three centuries of fashion are covered in depth in this book, demonstrating how attire is intricately connected to social and cultural norms. Insightful essays are accompanied by brilliant photography in this revealing book.

history of fashion books - Inside The Royal Wardrobe: A Dress History Of Queen Alexandra by Kate Strasdin

Inside The Royal Wardrobe: A Dress History Of Queen Alexandra by Kate Strasdin

Academic Kate Strasdin provides a fascinating account of how Alexandra used fashion to symbolize her varying roles in life. As a mother, wife, and queen, fashion was a key tool for switching between these modes.

history of fashion books - Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present by Alison Matthews David

Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present by Alison Matthews David

A thrilling book about the dark side of fashion! Murder and madness are the themes in this book about fashion at its most “drop dead” gorgeous.

history of fashion books - Vogue: The Gown by Jo Ellison

Vogue: The Gown by Jo Ellison

“This fabulously illustrated book features glamor on every page,” says Eddie Parrish, a fashion blogger at State Of Writing and Paper Fellows. “This is one for the supermodels out there.”


floor screen with brass butterflies by koket

history of fashion books - The Fashion Chronicles: The Style Stories of History’s Best Dressed by Amber Butchart

The Fashion Chronicles: The Style Stories of History’s Best Dressed by Amber Butchart

Butchart uses fashion as a means of gaining insight into the lives of individuals throughout history. In doing so, she reveals the profound connections between fashion and social and political standing.

How to Read a Dress by Lydia Edwards

How to Read a Dress by Lydia Edwards

Fashion aficionados will understand the subtleties and nuances of this world that make it fascinating. Lydia Edwards takes us on a deep dive into the world of dress design in this engrossing volume.

The Wedding Dress: The Fifty Designs That Changed The Course of Bridal Fashion by Eleanor Thompson

The Wedding Dress: The Fifty Designs That Changed The Course of Bridal Fashion by Eleanor Thompson

From classic white gowns to experimental design, Thompson presents the authoritative account of wedding dress fashion. The theory and practice of wedding dresses are covered completely.


Most Beautiful Haute Couture Wedding Dresses


The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments in Fashion by Megan Hess

The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments in Fashion by Megan Hess

Fashion moments become timeless as they seep into our collective consciousness. Hess has drawn the most powerful moments from history into this compelling collection.

history of fashion books - The House of Worth, 1858-1954: The Birth of Haute Couture by Chantal Trubert-Tollu et. at.

The House of Worth, 1858-1954: The Birth of Haute Couture by Chantal Trubert-Tollu et al.

Charting the incredible journey of Charles Frederick Worth, this is the story of a man whose creativity and entrepreneurship changed the face of fashion forever.


The Art of Haute Couture


history of fashion books - Harper's Bazaar: First in Fashion by Marianne Le Galliard and Éric Pujalet-Plaà

Harper’s Bazaar: First in Fashion by Marianne Le Galliard and Éric Pujalet-Plaà

“Harper’s Bazaar has been reporting on fashion for over 150 years and has been enormously influential in fashion trends,” says Anna Williams, a writer at Essayroo and OX Essays. “This book explores how fashion and culture have been shaped by one magazine.”

Fashion: A Timeline in Photographs: 1850 to Today

Fashion: A Timeline in Photographs: 1850 to Today

This visually stunning edition takes the reader on a journey through fashion. Discover changing trends and enduring styles through the images in this book.


The History of Fashion by the Decade, 1900 – 2000


history of fashion books - The Dictionary of Fashion History by Valerie Cumming

The Dictionary of Fashion History by Valerie Cumming

Cumming’s complete account of fashion from the mainstream to the esoteric profound countless hours of fascination. Opening a random page in this book – what is a Welch wig? – reveals interest on every page.

history of fashion books - The Anatomy of Fashion - Why We Dress the Way We Do by Colin McDowell

The Anatomy of Fashion: Why We Dress the Way We Do by Colin McDowell

McDowell breaks fashion down through the use of physiology. That fashion is, ultimately, about the body is a fact often overlooked – McDowell brings it into stark clarity.

Tom Ford by Tom Ford, Bridget Foley et al

Tom Ford by Tom Ford, Bridget Foley et al.

Tom Ford turned Gucci into a global brand and influenced fashion across the 20th century. Including over 200 lush photographs, this compendium offers unprecedented detail about Ford’s life and designs.


On Our Shelf | Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion


Louis Vuitton: The Birth of Modern Luxury by Paul-Gerard Pasols, Pierre Leonforte

Louis Vuitton: The Birth of Modern Luxury by Paul-Gerard Pasols, Pierre Leonforte

Now in an updated edition, Louis Vuitton dives into one of fashion’s most elegant houses. The lives of its founder and heirs, inextricable from the shape of the company, are explored in great depth.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton

The infusion of race, class, and religion in McQueen’s designs provide one of the most potent realizations of fashion’s political power. This biography reveals McQueen’s genius.

GUCCI: The Making Of by Frida Giannini (ed.)

Photography accompanies insightful essays exploring the reach of Gucci’s designs beyond the world of fashion in this stunning collection.


Behind the Scenes: The Gucci Story


The Impossible Collection of Fashion by Assouline

The Impossible Collection of Fashion by Assouline

A giant, beautiful book which in its own design screams of fashion. In this volume, Valerie Steele has collected 100 powerful dresses and their implications for the future of fashion.

Chanel: The Impossible Collection

Chanel: The Impossible Collection by Assouline

A stunning work exploring the house of Chanel, from Chanel herself through to Karl Lagerfeld’s work elevating it into high fashion. Featuring glossy images taking the reader on a journey through 100 iconic looks, this book is a work of art.

Fashion is art, politics, and culture together. The history of fashion is truly a history of the world and these books will help you discover it!

About the Author:

Katherine Rundell is a fashion writer at Essay Writing Services UK and Academized.com. She has a love for shopping vintage and writes about fashion, history and culture from the 1850s to the present day. She is also a proofreader at Legit essay writing service.


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