10 Fashion & Lifestyle Books to Keep You Chic and Shiny

Style is an elusive concept that can only be seen and felt, but not exactly defined. Some books exude a sense of the exquisite, inspiring the reader to improve their style quotient, or simply live a more chic life. A great author can transport the average reader to a world of luxury, finery and give them a sense of all-round perfection.

Some books trace the life and times of famous designers, while others uncover the truths behind the glamorous world of high-fashion. This can be done through the description of the characters’ clothes, the opulent locations, or simply by painting a luxurious picture for the reader. Here are the top 10 books that will make you want to be as stylish as possible:

10. The Great Gatsby, by F.Scott Fitzgerald

First Published: 1925

What It’s About:

The Great Gatsby was considered one of the finest works of American fiction when it was first released and still is. It deals with topics ranging from love, tragedy and a particular part of society during the 1920s that loved to indulge in consumerism, known as the ‘Jazz Age society’. In this novel, Fitzgerald explores the materialism that plagues this section of society due to economic growth and financial success, something that the post-World War I Jazz Age symbolizes.

Why You Should Read It:

This was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, but by far his most popular work. The book beautifully captures the mood of the jubilant Jazz Age with its glamourous parties. Read this book to get a glimpse of the exquisite and lavish parties that the upper class of the 1920s would throw. Fashion enthusiasts will enjoy reading the detailed description of 1920s fashion in all its glittering glory.

Best Quote:

“One things sure and nothing’s surer, the rich get richer and the poor get – children.”

9. The Devil Wears Prada, by Lauren Weisberger

First Published: 2003

What It’s About:

When Andrea Sachs lands her dream job as assistant to a high-profile fashion magazine editor, she couldn’t be happier. However, she soon realizes that she doesn’t quite fit into this world of high fashion and her boss-from-hell, Miranda Priestly, is a fashionista to reckon with. She soon finds her job becoming a nightmare with every day bringing a new challenge. Andrea starts to wonder if it is worth selling her soul for a glowing recommendation from her boss, which has the power to open doors for her at any major fashion magazine.

Why You Should Read It:

The book has been written by Weisberger, who in real life was assistant to Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour. The character of Miranda Priestly is supposed to be based on her. The book gives an inside look at life at the top of the fashion world.

Best Quote:

“Don’t be silly, everyone wants this. Everyone wants to be us.”

8. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

First Published: 1936

What It’s About:

This Pulitzer Prize winning novel deals with love and war in epic proportions. The central characters are the pretty Southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. They traverse the lands of the Deep South in the midst of the civil war. The novel starts in 1861 and ends ten years later at the end of the civil war. In this period, the South and the novel’s main characters are left completely changed. It is a novel that deals not only with love, but presents the theme of overcoming adversity, feminism and racial discrimination, ideas that haunt us even today.

Why You Should Read It:

The description of the lives of the Southerners in the pre-civil war era juxtaposed with the life of a pampered Southern belle in the American South upper class are both reasons to read this epic novel.

Best Quote:

“My dear, I don’t give a damn.”

7. Glass Of Fashion, by Cecil Beaton

First Published: 1954

What It’s About:

Written by Cecil Beaton, an iconic photographer who worked with Vogue and Vanity Fair in the 1920s, the book sheds light upon his views on the stalwarts of the style world. Cecil discusses the people who have inspired and left an indelible mark on his sense of style. It’s a great way to see how individuals can leave a legacy behind through their style alone.

Why You Should Read It:

Along with his own drawings, the book displays Cecil Beaton’s remarkable wit when discussing the world of fashion that he came to experience over the years. Read this book to glimpse into the world of Chanel, Dior and other great influencers of the fashion world. If you would like to get a broader view of what made the fashion world tick in the first half of the 20th century, make this your fashion Bible.

Best Quote:

“Perhaps the world’s second worst crime is boredom, the first is being a bore.”

6. Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, by Dana Thomas

First Published: 2007

What It’s About:

This is a behind-the-scenes, hard-hitting account of the luxury fashion industry and how it has evolved into something completely unrecognizable from what was originally considered, ‘luxury’. A journalist by profession, Dana Thomas covered the luxury market for some of the biggest publications in the United States for over fifteen years. In this explosive book, Thomas exposes the multi-billion dollar companies that are behind some of the biggest names in the industry including Burberry, Prada and Gucci.

Why You Should Read It:

To know the reality behind the glitz and the glamour of some of the biggest brands in the luxury fashion market, this is the book to read. A lot has been written about the exploitation of third world countries for the benefit of global conglomerates, but this was one of the first books to take a look at what truly goes on behind closed doors at some of the biggest fashion brands.

Best Quote:

“To fake luxury today is easy. You put some details from the brand’s past, you put a little bit of gold, and that’s it.”

5. A Vintage Affair, by Isabel Wolff

First Published: 2009

What It’s About:

Phoebe leaves her successful job in London to pursue her dreams of having her own vintage clothing shop. She goes in search of the perfect vintage clothing to display in her shop and finds a particular piece that changes her life completely. She meets an old French lady who refuses to part with a treasured piece of clothing, and it’s this article that brings the two women together in a heartfelt tale of love, loss and memories.

Why You Should Read It:

If you are fascinated with stories behind pieces of clothing in vintage stores or your grandmother’s closet, then this is the book for you. If you enjoy scouring for beautiful vintage finds, Phoebe’s passions may resonate with the way you feel when shopping for the perfect piece from the past.

Best Quote:

“Lines don’t make beautiful women less beautiful.”

4. Scruples, by Judith Krantz

First Published: 1978

What It’s About:

Scruples tell the story of a luxurious Beverly Hills boutique and the people that work in it. The author lets the readers catch a glimpse of the real people who make up the rich-and-famous of society. In a nutshell, this is a no-holds-barred look at the decadent world of high-fashion and haute couture.

Why You Should Read It:

The book has been credited with making Rodeo Drive world famous and brims with insider information on the scandalous world of Hollywood and the ultra-wealthy. If you want to see what goes on behind the glitz and glamour, Scruples does exactly that. It unmasks the wealthy and glamorous people and shows the real emotions that they experience even as they live the most luxurious and high-powered lives. Scruples is an expose on high-society in the hedonist 1980s that makes for the perfect read for those who love fashion and drama.

Best Quote:

“For my part, I think that the mystery is always greatest where there is the most – emptiness.”

3. Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella

First Published: 2001

What It’s About:

Becky Bloomwood is a 25-year-old writer living in London with a fabulous circle of socialite friends, a beautiful flat, and a closet that is overflowing with gorgeous, on-trend clothes. Unfortunately for Becky, she can’t actually afford any of her lifestyle. She has been living on the edge by going over multiple credit card limits that has led to several banks chasing her to make her pay her considerably large dues. It’s up to Becky, the shopaholic, alone to turn her life around.

Why You Should Read It:

The vulnerable protagonist has a shopping addiction, which leads to her making some tough decisions and taking a fashionable step in the right direction. Everyone has, at some point or another, found themselves in Becky’s position, battling the urge shop while having a closet full of clothes already. This relatable novel will be a heartwarming one to read.

Best Quote:

“I love new clothes. If everyone could just wear new clothes everyday, I reckon depression wouldn’t exist anymore.”

2. Shopgirl, by Steve Martin

First Published: 2000

What It’s About:

The protagonist, Mirabelle Buttersfield is a Canadian native living in Beverly Hills, working in a luxurious boutique selling evening gloves. Unfortunately, almost no one ever buys the gloves and she is a lonely girl who spends her free time with her cats watching television or alone in bars hoping to meet her soulmate. She meets millionaire Ray Porter and while he is clearly a womanizer, she attempts to create a meaningful connection with him. At the same time, Mirabelle is also dating a much less impressive character, Jeremy, who seems to be the polar opposite of Ray.

Why You Should Read It:

This is a story of modern-day romance with a touch of fashion and simplicity that has universal appeal. Read it for its description of luxury items juxtaposed with the loneliness experienced by the protagonist. The book also takes a look into the mind of a young girl’s search for meaningful connection.

Best Quote:

“Mirabelle is not affected by a man’s failures to approach her, as her own self-deprecating attitude never allows the idea that he would in the first place.”

1. Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life, by Justine Picardie

First Published: 2009

What It’s About:

The author sheds new light on Coco Chanel, the most powerful figure in the world of fashion. Through interviews with her closest surviving friends, employees and relatives, we uncover the hidden side of Gabrielle Chanel. Justine Picardie takes readers beyond the glossy exterior of the fashion icon into her mind, ultimately uncovering the influences behind her impeccable style. We also get to see what her childhood years were like, along with the crucial formative years that impacted her sense of style.

Why You Should Read It:

Anyone who loves fashion, style and elegance in general knows that Coco Chanel sits at the top of the list of influential designers who radically changed the meaning of style for women everywhere. Her influence continues to be seen even to this day. This novel sheds new light on the first lady of style.

Best Quote:

“Saint Laurent has excellent taste. The more he copies me, the better taste he displays. – Coco Chanel”

Conclusion

Books have the power to transport the reader into a world more stylish than they could imagine. A mix of fiction and non-fiction, these ten books make for the best of the chic and stylish reads worth considering.


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