A common misconception about the most style-obsessed is that we live for fashion... and nothing else. Sure, the weekly shopping date is important — but the majority of fashion mavens do enjoy other activities just as much. And that includes books. Why wouldn't we love them — especially when they let us into worlds to which we don't have access, like fashion’s most exclusive events. (The sad reality is that many of us don't have the luxury of acquiring a seat at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week or private previews at a designer atelier.) A particularly descriptive book can be just as satisfying as a front row experience.
For those fashionistas who devour books as readily as the latest runway collections, here are 11 works that indulge both curiosities. Including an autobiography penned by legendary Harper’s Bazaar fashion editor Diane Vreeland, Plum Sykes’ tongue-in-cheek caricature of the New York fashion world, and a compilation of Karl Lagerfeld’s choice words, every title on this list is both informative and deliciously detailed. And it simply wouldn’t be right to leave out classic tomes by Edith Wharton and Truman Capote, which all capture the essence of New York society. Just don't be surprised if the reading material inspires a hankering for the latest designer wares.
1. Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes
Written by Vogue columnist Plum Sykes, Bergdorf Blondes is the perfect satirical look into the lives and times of Manhattan’s elite… or was that Gossip Girl? In any case, the mere name-dropping of designer lines in the novel will have any fashion maven sprinting to her favorite boutique.
2. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
We can also refer to this particular novel as Infinite Reasons Not to Work for Anna Wintour — but really, the book delves into the meandering career and personal life of a twentysomething who certainly learns her (style) lesson by working at a top fashion publication.
3. D.V. by Diana Vreeland
The legendary Harper’s Bazaar editor and columnist penned this ultra-fashionable autobiography, filled with all the stories you would expect from such an esteemed figure in editorial.
4. The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Though The Great Gatsby remains his best known work, F. Scott Fitzgerald injected the same evocative descriptions in all of his works, of which The Beautiful and Damned is a slightly unusual example. Expect to be swept away by Fitzgerald’s depiction of high society in New York.
5. The World According to Karl edited by Sandrine Gulbenkian
Anyone who has ever read a quote by Karl Lagerfeld and thought, “Huh?” should immediately pick up this book. Filled with more questionable Karl quotes than one could possibly hope for, you’re bound to find both fashion advice and general amusement within its pages.
6. Very Classy: Even More Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady by Derek Blasberg
Written by the editor-at-large of both Harper’s Bazaar and V magazine as a follow up to his first book, Very Classy offers advice and anecdotes from Derek Blasberg’s very fashionable life. With chapters bearing titles like “A Lady is Always Learning,” the book provides both practical tips and Blasberg’s jovial good humor to boot.
7. The Complete Stories of Truman Capote by Truman Capote
As a member of the “It” crowd of his time, Truman Capote witnessed and documented the lives of his notable acquaintances and friends. His collected stories provide insight into New York society and beyond.
8. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Built upon the classic outsider-becomes-insider structure, Rules of Civility is yet another sharply crafted novel that examines the New York social landscape — complete with enviable fashions, of course.
9. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
The exacting descriptions of each character’s wardrobe is only one of the facets which makes 1Q84 such an intriguing novel.
10. The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton is most noted for The Age of Innocence, in which descriptions of high society functions and encounters are rendered in such vivid detail you can almost see them. But her lesser-known novel The Glimpses of the Moon provides the same narrative style with a variation on her favored theme of the choice between love and prosperity.
11. Just Kids by Patti Smith
Patti Smith proves a surprisingly adept narrator of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, her career, and of course her style in this autobiographical piece.