I have really enjoyed putting together some of my favorite reading recommendations for Feather Factor, and today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite fashion and style books.
I’m a sucker for any book that advertises its ability to “transform my wardrobe” and tell me how to dress. Over the years I’ve literally read and/or leafed through a hundred style manuals, coffee table books. and the like. I like to check them out at the library first if possible, and only the best get added to my bookshelves. Here are some of my favorites, that range from the coffee table variety to chick lit novels, to denser reads on the luxury industry.
The Millionaire’s Handbook: This book was actually given to me as a gag gift from my friend J when I graduated from business school. Har dee har har. Anyway, this sat unread on my shelf for nearly a year. It seemed like the kind of “how to” book that’d recommend dubious behavior like referring hazily to “back East” in conversation and suddenly referring to your grandmother as Muffy. However, I finally cracked it open during a few weeks ago, and found it quite good! The fashion sections particularly are great at helping you craft a “millionaire’s look” without a millionaire budget – advice includes cutting down the amount of clothing you buy, by 2/3rds so you can spend 3x more on quality items.
Parisian Chic: This is one of my all time favorites. I think the first ~70 pages or so of the book are worth it alone, just for the very helpful and cheerily written tips by the forever stylish Ines de la Fressange. It’s full of useful tips and charming illustrations, and even gives a list of “unexpected” pairings – an evening dress with a straw bag, for example. The back half of the book has suggestions for shopping and life, and I’m looking forward to referencing Fressange’s food and shopping suggestions for our next trip to Paris.
Elegance (by Kathleen Tessaro): This was a book I accidentally checked out from the library. I was looking for the original Elegance – a no nonsense piece by Genevieve Dariaux originally written decades ago. Dariaux’s Elegance is a sweet read with many charming tips about shopping like a Parisian, and appropriate dress. However, I did find myself unable to relate to quite a few chapters due to its original time period – the advice on proper veils, for example.
Kathleen Tessaro’s Elegance is actually the story of a woman Louise – stuck in a troubled marriage with a bad wardrobe to boot – and what happens to her when she reads Dariaux’s Elegance. Tessaro’s book is a little bit like Bridget Jones meets Tim Gunn, and I thought it was a great little read. Tessaro also excerpts some of the best parts of Dariaux’s work, so you get the best of both worlds.
Deluxe: By Newsweek reporter Dana Thomas, Deluxe is a fascinating read that is sure to capture the attention of anyone who loves luxury goods. Thomas presents a clear and sometimes very harsh look on the luxury industry – how many brands have continued to increase prices while decreasing quality, and just how far the idea of “luxury” has come from its roots. Some brands like Prada and Gucci get the full investigative journalist treatment, while others like Chanel and Hermes seem to earn Thomas’s admiration through her extensive research.
Chanel: Collections and Creations: I first noticed this beautiful hardcover (written by journalist Daniele Bott) when while trying on boots at a Chanel boutique, I noticed my husband engrossed on a nearby couch. I walked over to investigate and saw him leafing through this beautiful book, reading about the Chanel suit. “Chanel makes some pretty cool stuff!” he said.
The fact that this book was actively encouraging pro-Chanel thought in my household was already enough reason for me to want a copy to keep handy at all times. However, this book is also full of beautiful photography, details, and history of some of Chanel’s most iconic creations and collections. I’m always happy to open it up and flip through it.
What are some of your favorite fashion/style books? I am definitely anticipating writing a part two to this post (I have so many favorites), so I’ll be sure to add some of your selections to that list!