When it comes to increasing your knowledge about menswear, besides reading articles from blogs and websites (especially this one), books are a fantastic way to learn more. I'm not talking about e-books but rather good old-fashioned physical books. This post will be about seven books that I consider a great starting point, especially if you wish to begin building a "menswear library" of sorts.
1. Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion by Alan Flusser
This is the one you should start your collection with. It provides a solid foundation for looking your best without becoming a "fashion victim" to all the latest trends and fads. The focus of this book is on timelessness. Flusser makes it an entertaining read, thanks to its witty tone at times. Filled with plenty of pictures of well-dressed men throughout history, such as Humphrey Bogart and the Duke of Windsor, as reference points for different topics, this is a book that will look great even as a decor piece on your coffee table.
2. Icons of Men's Style by Josh Sims
Ever wonder how the peacoat became part of a man's wardrobe? Or the basic T-shirt? You'll find those answers and more in this book. Sims breaks down critical pieces of clothing/footwear/accessories into different sections (ex. outerwear, shirts & sweaters, footwear, underwear, etc.), making for an easy read. It is very informative to learn how certain items morphed over time into what we know today and how they became integral parts of our wardrobe.
3. Elegance: A Guide to Quality in Menswear by G.Bruce Boyer
No list of menswear books can be complete without mentioning this one. Written by the preeminent author/journalist/expert on menswear, "Elegance" is a classic. While some content may be a little dated (it was written in the 1980s, after all), it features timeless advice such as what to look for when buying a suit, which aesthetic suits you best, and more. Coupled with other advice such as maintenance and shopping, this one deserves a spot on your shelf.
4. True Style by G.Bruce Boyer
Just a quick side note about Boyer: I encourage you to look him up if you haven't heard of him before. He did a podcast series last year with Canadian menswear journalist/blogger Pedro Mendes. Check it out here.
5. Brooks Brothers: 200 Years of American Style by Kate Betts
Since 1818, what else is there to say. This book gives America's oldest retailer a history along with some of the products they pioneered and introduced to America, such as the button-down oxford shirt. Filled with plenty of stories and anecdotes of the many public figures they have influenced throughout their history (Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, Katharine Hepburn, to name a few), it's a history lesson wrapped in with memories. Worthy of a spot on the coffee table for certain
6. The Parisian Gentleman by Hugo Jacomet
It is written by one of the world's leading experts on all things bespoke and stylish (check out his blog Parisian Gentleman). This is not so much about the gentleman himself, but the tailors, shirtmakers, etc. this is not so much about the gentleman himself, but the tailors, shirtmakers, and artisans that supply them. Jacomet gives detailed descriptions and histories of famous makers in France like Cifonelli, Berluti, Louis Vuitton, Charvet, Caron, and more. From shoemakers to shirtmakers, trunkmakers, and perfume makers, you'll find them here. Another superb coffee table book that will make you want to book a one-way ticket to France.
7. The Italian Gentleman by Hugo Jacomet
Another entry on my list by Mr. Jacomet, with the focus being on Italy. Not only will you find the same kind of information as The Parisian Gentleman, but you will also find information on fabric mills here as Northern Italy is known for producing some of the finest cloth in the world. And while you might associate Italy with fashion icons such as Armani and Versace, you won't find any big brands in this book. The focus is on smaller ateliers and makers.