Hello and happy vintage & fashion book TUESDAY everyone!
Ah, so many things I want to start off! First, thank you to all who supported me as I ran my first 26.2 miles on Sunday at the Pittsburgh Marathon! It was a huge achievement in my 25 years on this planet and I enjoyed every.single.step of the way (even the ones that hurt!)
I didn’t get a chance to update yesterday as I was busy recovering from the run and the weekend getaway, but I did manage to update Friday’s vintage athletic inspiration post here with some pics from after the race.
Please don’t judge my appearance … I was stylin’ with 26+ miles behind me!
I let my legs rest yesterday, but my fingers and mind were busy researching various vintage fashion & fashion history books to share with you on the site today!
A few of you expressed interest in learning what other expert sources you could go to for information on identifying vintage and understanding the history behind it. There is so much to read about fashion that it’s almost impossible to pick “the best few” books illustrating the knowledge you need to know to reach expert status.
The true reality is that because time never stops, the “facts” about vintage which can be learned never stop, either. History is now and history is forever … and so is vintage style!
I’m no vintage expert yet, and so part of this research was for my own benefit. I can’t wait to order a few of these books and gain insightful style inspiration from.
For a taste of vintage know-how, keep reading after the jump for 14 books that will wet your vintage fashion appetite … but thanks to a sea of information, will never completely satisfy it either, no matter how much you read!
A few of the books highlighted below are personal favorites, while still others were recommended to me and a few I just found in the shuffle of Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
So with that said, if I missed a book that must ABSOLUTELY be included on this list, please let me know!I know that many a vintage seller regularly tunes into my site (thank you!!) and will probably have a favorite book or two to share with the other vintage lovers here!
Find me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or shoot me an email at [email protected].
Spread vintage love, gain fashion WISDOM!
VINTAGE LOVERS OLD & NEW: VINTAGE FASHION SHOPPING 101
READ THIS FOR … without actually referencing the alphabet, Melody Fortier’s tell-all-guide to vintage is just that: Your A to Z resource for understanding the styles, the fit, the price and the construction & care of vintage fashion.
I met Melody at the Manhattan Vintage Show, where she was selling on behalf of her Massachusetts boutique, Tangerine Vintage. Her book grabbed my attention even more than those tooled purses (watch the vid here to see what I mean), and even more important, reading the book both grabbed and kept my attention the whole way through.
The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping is an academic book of vintage know-how that doesn’t feel like a textbook. There are not professors here — just knowledgeable words of encouragement from an expert vintage lover!
BUY IT NOW: Barnes & Noble, $14 (hardback)
READ THIS FOR … a play-by-play view of key fashion trends by designer, era and cultural influence. I’d read this book to learn more how celebrities influenced fashion and the relationship between history and its inspiration on styles of the period.
Vintage Fashion Sourcebook was written by owners of C02 Vintage Fashion, a prominent United Kingdom-based vintage fashion archive. The authors wrote it to be a guide to 20th century fashion only, helping vintage lovers and unique fashionistas alike to sort through the hot trends of each decade so that we can speak articulately to the fashion-f0rward moments of vintage fashion past.
BUY IT NOW: Amazon, $13 (paperback)
VISUAL VINTAGE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR COFFEE TABLE
READ THIS FOR … fashion eye candy worth flipping through every time you sit down for dinner and don’t want to turn on the TV; or need a good fashion fix before deciding on what to wear for your day!
I love photographic heavy coffee table books like Fashion of the Twentieth Century because while there may be text included, you can still draw enlightening education from the visual context of its pages.
Author Francois Baudot is a leading fashion journalist and commentator in France who wrote this book to be an authoritative text on how the culture of fashion (magazines, celebrities, designers) created and perpetuated the trends as adopted by the masses from 1900 to 1999.
BUY IT NOW: Barnes & Noble, $21 (paperback)
READ THIS FOR … an understanding of the trends as presented through the lens of America’s leading fashion media property: Vogue Magazine.
While Vogue has never been known to market its pages to the masses, the magazine’s artistic presentation of high fashion influences the mid-to-low market, and is arguably “the” voice of what it means to dress well and to dress right.
Without having to compare and contrast back issues of Vogue, In Vogue presents examples of the mag’s best fashion photography from 1892 onward while also sharing how the magazine came to be such a force in fashion.
Since Vogue’s history is intertwined with the history of American fashion itself, this is a book that not only illustrates the evolution of Vogue from its 19th century origins — but the changes of style as reported through the pages of a timeless force in fashion.
BUY IT NOW: Barnes & Noble, $72 (hardcover)
READ THIS FOR … insight into the history of the New York City fashion industry and how it inspired what the rest of the nation — and perhaps the world — wore.
New York Fashion is an academic look into the history of the NYC department store to biographical examinations of modern American NYC-based designers like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
BUY IT NOW: Barnes & Noble, $172 (hardcover) or used, starting at approximately $5
FOR THE VINTAGE FASHION HISTORY BUFF
READ THIS FOR … salivating illustrations depicting the silhouettes and styles of fashion’s varied history from 1900 onward.
This complete sourcebook TRULY is complete: With 264 pages as written by a costume designer for BBC, you may not need any of the other books on this list!
BUY IT NOW: Barnes & Noble, $31 (hardcover)
FROM SEARS: FASHION MARKETING ILLUSTRATIONS & PHOTOGRAPHY
READ THIS FOR … a real look back in time, thanks to the archived volumes of SEARS department store catalogs republished for your inspired shopping pleasure.
SEARS department store was a mid-level store offering fashion for the whole family. It was where you could buy for your newborn, yourself, your husband and buy a gift for a friend!
The trend of “one-stop-department-store” shopping influenced how fashion was produced, marketing and distributed. The wide-spread availability of department store styles also affected what trends lasted and what trends didn’t.
Flip through the pictures of any SEARS catalogs from as early as 1900 to learn how fashion by the era was sold and consumed by the middle-income American bracket.
BUY IT NOW (PICTURED ABOVE): Barnes & Noble (’20s), $11 // Barnes & Noble (’30s), $11 // Barnes & Noble (’50s), $11 // Barnes & Noble (’60s), $11 (all paperback)
FOCUSED SUBJECT MATTER: SWIMSUITS, SHOES & WEDDINGS
READ THIS FOR … everything you wanted to know about the history of swimsuit design in the 20th century era by era as society’s reflection of the female changed and shifted.
The Swimsuit explains why particular styles reigned supreme by era thanks to historical events such as introduction of the Pill and women’s changing role in the workforce. You’ll find pictures identifying key styles as photographed in print advertisements, seen on the movie screen and captured in fashion spreads.
With summer fast approaching, at the very least you’ll have a book’s worth of inspiration for your new water wear!
BUY IT NOW: Barnes & Noble, $27 (hardcover)
READ THIS FOR … all you ever wanted and needed to know about vintage SHOES!
Arguably the sexiest piece of female attire, the “shoe” has never been the same. Whether it was worn for comfort or worn for class, one pair of footwear is never the same functionality or fashion as the next.
Published in late March 2011, Vintage Shoes is most likely the most up-to-date guide to identifying and collecting vintage shoes. You’ll find a glossary of shoe designers alongside photographic history explaining the trends and the technique behind what went on our feet from 1900 on.
BUY IT NOW: Barnes & Noble, $22
READ THIS FOR … a brand new guide (not even released yet!) to vintage weddings, written and illustrated with intent to inspire all modern day brides to incorporate vintage style dress & decor elements into their future big days.
250 photographs offer a whirlwind tour of how a girl’s “favorite day” (arguable, I’m sure!) has changed over the past 100 years … from what was worn to where it was held, who was there and how it was organized!
BUY IT NOW: Amazon, $20 (for pre-order, available to ship January 2012)
READ THIS FOR … vintage DIY inspiration, with tons of tips, tricks & tutorials on how you can turn any ‘ole vintage thing (in good or sad condition!) into a brand spankin’ new vintage thing!
Part of loving vintage clothing is respecting it for its history, both in the construction and the lives of its past wearers. Junky Styling honors the preservation of the past with understanding that sometimes you need to tweak things to work for the today.
Authors Annika & Kerry are designers of the UK-based label Junky Styling, which gained first claim to fame in the ’90s as the friends would regularly buy second hand suits and reinvent them with scissors, thread and some blood, sweat & tear into their own stylish sense of self.
Junky Styling launched as a second-hand fashion line in 1997, as worn by celebrities and of course, celebrated by vintage lovers everywhere for taking the old and making it into the new.
I’m adding this book to my wishlist so I can take all of my polyester blend cast-offs and one-too-many oversize ’80s tees and see if I can repurpose them from “maybe …” to MAGIC!
BUY IT NOW: Barnes & Noble, $27 (paperback)
READ THIS FOR … knowing & understanding the history of fashion and its significance from then through today covering all space in time between the 18th & 20th centuries.
I’d recommend this book for the vintage enthusiast or regular buyer who wants to train their mind to think like a vintage fashion expert. The Kyoto Costume Institute’s FASHION is an in-depth examination for those who passionately live as 24/7 students of style.
Vintage comrade Scorpio Vintage recommended this book to me on Facebook, saying (and I quote) “Well, I love (and wouldn’t be without) the Kyoto Costume Institute’s “FASHION”….a history from the 18th to the 20th century.” It’s thanks to the expertise of others that we can learn, grow, and continue to appreciate vintage fashion for the creativity of style & self expression it represents.
This vintage connoisseur has spoken! Check out more vintage know-how from Scorpio on the site Best In Vintage!
BUY IT NOW: Barnes & Noble, $54 (paperback … it’s a good investment, I swear!)
DICTIONARY GUIDES: HOW TO TALK FASHION
READ THIS FOR … like the next dictionary listed below, this is an A to Z guide to the WHO of fashion … the designers who possess the raw talent & creatively trained minds to make it all happen (and appear for you to buy!) in the first place.
Vintage lovers will appreciate this book for its biopic history of fashion designers and how their creations and most memorable “It” designs shaped fashion during their lifetimes and as we witness thanks to the influences of vintage, posthumously.
Fashion is art, and the designers are the artists. With a guide like this, you’ll learn how to identify the key artistic elements of a designer piece, and appreciate their evolution as both creators and people.
BUY IT NOW: Barnes & Noble, $17 (paperback)
READ THIS FOR … quite literally THE A to Z guide to all things fashion talk & trends. I was gifted this book by a friend who used it as a textbook in a Drexel University fashion class.
While it may seem overwhelming to read an entire dictionary of fashion, a Dictionary of Fashion such as this is most useful for light bedtime reading; like reading three pages on “hat” styles with a computer beside you to Google for additional information and pictures.
The upside to the dictionary: You can quickly accumulate a wealth of knowledge and trade talk that would take years of reading and conversing otherwise.
The downside? The book will just inspire you to do further research for more exact images and expanded definitions. So maintaining steady consumption — as opposed to reading the entire dictionary from beginning to end — will energize your mind, not burden it!
BUY IT NOW: Barnes & Noble, $47 (hardcover)
Such a fantastic list – I was thinking about creating a similar one for my own vintage series, but you beat me to it! I would add the following book: Vintage Hats & Bonnets 1770-1970 Second Edition by Susan Langley.It’s an in-depth exploration of vintage headwear and a must read for collectors and admirers of vintage hats (as I am.) Of all your recommendations, I am especially fond of New York Fashion – The Evolution of American Style. I bought it for $20 used from Amazon and refer to it all the time!
I would also suggest:
Wearing Vintage by Catherine Bardey
Viva Vintage by Trudie Bamford
Vintage Style by Tiffany Dubin
Dressing Up Vintage by Tracy Tolkien
Vintage Fashion by Emma Baxter
Vintage Style 1920-1960 by Desire Smith
and for a fun look at owning a vintage store, you can’t beat Alligators, Old Mink, and New Money by Alison Hoote. I promise, reading this great book is ALMOST as much fun as finding a great vintage treasure at your local thrift!
Cindy-The Vintage Hat Shop says
Thanks, Sammy. You really did your homework on this one. Lots of great choices here. Decision making time.
Here’s another to add to the list. Not exactly about vintage, but definitely related. I found out about this one at a vintage refab talk I did and HAVE to have it! For research purposes of course!
Fajr | Stylish Thought says
Great list full of great resources! I have the Little Guide and In Vogue. I have to get my hands on Vintage Shoes!
Thanks for such a great post!
I love this website it is just what I was loocking for thank you.
Thanks for the great list. I’ve been looking for hours and hours on the net where to start to learn about vintage. Thanks so very much for the great help! Jan S-D
Jannet thank you so much for stopping by and for saying this! happy research and learning! ;-)
hcg b12 drops says
Great site. Thank a lot for doing such a good job. I will check to your site to see what’s new and inform my coworkers about this.
Hi I notice most of these books seem focused on women’s fashion – I’m wondering if anyone’s aware of any good men’s fashion books? Thanks