I am sharing a round-up of my favourite fashion books that you should be reading! These are all books that I have found helpful throughout my fashion journey. They are all part of my own personal library & have been for years.

Over the years I have collected quite a few sewing and fashion books for my own personal library. I use these fashion books all the time as references and inspiration. There’s something special about holding a book and turning the pages that’s so satisfying to me. I hope you can relate to this too.

When I was a student studying fashion, money was sparse so I would spend my time researching books that could help me learn and find inspiration from. Saving up a few dollars here and there allowed me to buy a new book every few months.

I often find myself drawn to fashion books filled with illustrations or history, pattern making and sewing information.

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Design Inspiration & History

100 Years Of Fashion Illustration by Cally Blackman

If you are looking for an inspirational book with lots of lovely illustrations this one is for you. This book is beaming with colours, design and sketches that you are sure to pull inspiration from. Along with this, there is a whole heap of interesting history explaining the artwork so get ready to learn some new things!

What fashion books you should be reading 100 years of fashion illustration

This book starts from 1900 to 1975 & beyond including art work by Andy Warhol. As you flick through the eras you will find a very detailed introduction to the years on how the events around the world influence the changes in fashion. It also spotlights what iconic designers are rising to fame and why. I find this so insightful and inspiring. Once you understand the history of the eras you get to flick through collections of beautiful illustrations.

You will find hand-drawn illustrations that were published in Vogue magazines through to posters used for Harrods in London.

This books is a beauty all round.

What fashion books you should be reading 100 years of fashion illustration

Coco Chanel by Megan Hess

This book is SO beautiful! Coco Chanel’s history illustrated in such a magical way by Megan Hess. Megan also has many other books on fashion designers and places. If you want to read a bit about history in a beautiful way these books are for you.

I find the artwork by Megan so inspiring to look at while I am learning more about fashion history. You will also find whimsically illustrated quotes by Coco Chanel in this book. Small details go such a long way to inspire.

What fashion books you should be reading. Flatlay of book Coco chanel by Megan Hass. There are dainty beach straws and coffee in the background.
What fashion books you should be reading. Flatlay of book Coco chanel by Megan Hass. There are dainty beach straws and coffee in the background.

The Fashion Book by Phidon

A fashion dictionary one might say. This book is bursting with fashion history, from designers, photographers, models who inspired and created the fashion industry, this books really does share it all.

This book includes over two centuries of icons. Indexed from A to Z you can quickly flick through the pages to find who or what you are looking for just like a dictionary. It is a very fabulous book to have on hand.

I haven’t made my way through this book yet because it is so full of information. I find I get lost in a tangent of research and interest in almost every person.

I like to use this book as a place to start learning more. You can flick through the pages and find new people to research and learn about or you may rediscover people you were once inspired by!

The Fashion Book by Phiadon. Flat lay of book cover sitting on top of beige linen. There are whimsical flowers around the book with wooden spools.
the fashion book flat lay with linen and flowers

Pattern Making & Textiles

Fabric For Fashion by Amanda Johnston and Clive Hallett

I cannot stress this enough…if you are wanting to study fashion or become a confident home sewer I recommend learning as much as you can about textiles. I suppose many skip this step because it’s not that exciting but I promise it is important!

Designing garments is a fun process and one of the most important elements is getting the fit right. Choosing the right fabric is just as important in my opinion. This means you will get the best out of your projects.

Fabric For Fashion is a book that I reach for a lot because it shares so much information about fabrics from the making through to the properties. It’s a great reference to start with so you can quickly refer to information when you need it.

You can also find a swatch book version, which has cuttings of different textiles labelled. This is super handy if you are a more hands-on learner!

Fabric For Fashion by Amanda Johnston and Clive Hallett laying on beige linen as a flat lay with flowers and wooden sewing spools

How Patterns Work by Assembil

I found this book before I decided to study fashion and it has been such a helpful resource to have on hand. How Patterns Work dives deep into the bare basics of sewing and pattern making. It explains terminology like what a selvedge is and how to create pattern shapes using dart manipulation and draping.

This books isn’t a guide on how to draft patterns and does not include measurements or block drafting. I first purchased it in the hopes of having help in the drafting area before I studied fashion design. You will however learn SO much!

If pattern making is something you are interested in learning more about giving this book a go! I think it’s super important to wrap your head around the terminology and basics of pattern making so you can hit the ground running when it comes to the harder stuff.

There are so many things that you may not know about if you are a self-taught seamstress. Did you know that notches are not marked as triangles in the fashion industry? They are actually straight lines that we call nicks or notches and are cut into the seam allowance with a pattern notcher. This is one of the many informative topics in this book.

How Patterns Work by Assembil laying as a flat lay with beach bunny tails and wooden spools. There is crumbled beige linen in the background.
How Patterns Work by Assembil laying as a flat lay with beach bunny tails and wooden spools. There is crumbled beige linen in the background.


9 Heads Nancy Riegelman

Lastly, 9 Heads! What an amazing fashion resource! I can’t praise this book enough. From flat lays to sketching to proportional illustrations this book shares it all. If you would like to develop your own sketching style 9 Heads teaches so many ways to learn how to draw proportionally and beautifully.

This books helped me find my own sketching style when I was at high school allowing me to confidently draw my design ideas at university.

If you like to sketch and draw just to plan out your sewing projects and would like to improve techniques this is a really great resource to have in your fashion library.

What fashion books you should be reading 9 heads book laying on beige linen and textured cotton. There is a cup of coffee on the side with vintage wooden spools and snips.


Unity Books – A fun, small book shop located on High Street in Auckland CBD and Wellington CBD.

I have found more than a handful of interesting books in this store so go in and browse if you are local they really are a lovely store to support.

The Book Depository – Online shopping is often the only solution for educational sketching or patten making books that I am looking for. I have found The Book Depository to be a great reliable source to order from.

Amazon – The next place that is great is Amazon. I usually leave this as my last resource as I am in New Zealand and books can be quite expensive to ship here from the USA. If you are located in USA then I recommend looking here first. I have added my affiliate links to all of the book titles if you wish to find these books on amazon. Just click on the book titles above.

I hope this has bought some clarity to any books you may consider purchasing for your fashion library. I love to encourage reading books over the internet as its easier to find what you may be looking for in an index. I can find the internet so overwhelming at times!

What fashion books you should be reading pinterest

Mak x

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