Required Reading: The Fashion Texts You Need to Own

 

WORDS + ABOVE PHOTO BY CARA BEST, PHOTOS VIA AUTHORS + PUBLISHERS

Going into the fashion industry means signing up for a never-ending learning curve. A constantly shifting landscape full of landmines in the form of linesheets, social media posts, and all the minutia that go into running a fashion company. For those starting out in fashion or just trying to keep up with the what's new, the Internet is a relative Rosetta Stone helping to decode the intricacies of the business. There are literally thousands of online resources available, but rather than detailing them all we're kickin' it old school and bringing you our favorite books (remember those?) to turn to when you need inspiration, advice, or a little of each.

the little dictionary of fashion by christian dior

Originally published in 1954, this may be the most useful book on how to first obtain and then wear stylish pieces ever written. (Yes, it's that good.) Dior details when to pass on items and when to splurge, how to dress for specific events, and, as the name suggests, defines a variety of fashion terminology. Full of vintage fashion portraits and charming anecdotes from the man that created one of the most iconic labels of all time, this "little dictionary" belongs in every fashionable home.

women in clothes by sheila heti, heidi julavits, and leanne shapton

If you're feeling uninspired or simply need a break from staring at your never-empty inbox, Women in Clothes is the book for you. A funny and often tender look at our relationship to what we wear, this anthology of over six hundred personal testimonies is a treasure. It's basically the long form version of the pivotal scene in The Devil Wears Prada when Meryl Streep explains the trickledown effect to a stricken Anne Hathaway. You'll feel more empowered about your sartorial choices than ever before after finishing this, trust us.

the end of fashion: how marketing changed the clothing business forever by teri agins

Former Wall Street Journal columnist Teri Agins explores the transference of power from the elite French fashion houses of old to fast fashion conglomerates in her debut book. The End of Fashion is an important read for anyone looking to make it in a world run by mass marketing giants. Agins deftly examines the impact marketing has had on both the creative and business sides of fashion through case studies featuring Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Isaac Mizrahi, and more.

champagne supernovas: marc jacobs, alexander mcqueen, kate moss, and the '90s renegades who remade fashion by maureen callahan

Maureen Callahan's name may ring a bell from her unapologetic profile on Marc Jacobs for the New York Post two years ago, but Callahan is much more than the simple slanderer that Jacobs made her out to be. The journalist has been writing about style and pop culture for years and Champagne Supernovas proves that. In this fascinating take on '90s fashion, we get an insider's look at three individuals who together shaped the fashion industry and left a mark on the business that is still felt today.

the fashion system by roland barthes

Not for the faint of heart, this deep dive into the semiotics of French fashion magazines in the 1950s is dense. Barthes language is difficult to process even in translation, but the pay off for finishing this Goliath is big. In The Fashion System, the acclaimed theorist examines the relationship between fashion and words and the weight (or lack thereof) of clothing descriptions in popular magazines. Find a comfortable chair and settle in because this one is not to be missed!

tales from the back row by amy odell

If you're craving a real look into the life of a prevalent fashion editor, look no further than Amy Odell's collection of personal essays. Odell's career trajectory acts as a lens through which we view the good, bad, and ugly of fashion publications. It's funny, insightful, and sometimes tragic, but never boring. These "tales" of Odell's success and failure in the cut throat realm of magazine writing are essential for anyone looking to better understand the inner workings of today's taste-making glossies.