Gift Guide: 12 Thoughtful books about style, ethical fashion and building a better, simpler wardrobe

 
Gift Guide: 12 Thoughtful books about style, ethical fashion and building a better, simpler wardrobe

I'm a big fan of gifting books for birthdays and the holidays, because you are not just giving another thing but inspiration, knowledge, advice, comfort – and we all need these way more than we need more stuff, don't we?

I also think that a simple book can be one of the most personal presents, when you really take the time to consider what your giftee would enjoy and find the most helpful in her or his current situation.

So for the holiday season, I thought I'd finally do a big round-up of all of my favourite, most-recommended books that talk about clothes, but from a different, a little more thoughtful perspective than your standard fashion magazine. I've picked twelve books that cover a mix of topics, including personal style, the fashion industry, ethical fashion, simplifying, minimalism, and all that good stuff. Some are practical, step-by-step guides, others are simple collections of stories, designed to get you thinking about your own relationship to clothes. There are also a couple of books in there that don't focus on clothes at all, but rather on how to cultivate a more conscious approach to shopping and your stuff in general.

Scroll down for a mini review of each of my twelve picks including some thoughts about what type of person might enjoy it the most.

If you're a fellow book lover, let me know what your personal favourite books about clothes/wardrobes/conscious shopping are! Did I miss any important ones?

 

 

 

 

Overdressed

You'll love this if
you want an in-depth analysis of how the fashion industry is impacting workers, the environment and the economy

The perfect gift for
fast fashion addicts in need of a wake up call

Overview
Overdressed is truly a must-read for anyone that’s even remotely interested in sustainability and social issues in fashion. Like The True Cost of Fashion documentary, this book describes the various negative effects the fashion industry has on the world, but it delves a lot deeper. You learn a ton about the history of the fashion, how clothing became a disposable good in the first place and what strategies fashion brands use to get us to buy more and more. Author Elizabeth L. Cline makes it very clear that these issues are prevalent across all price points, not just fast fashion, which is why simply buying expensive/luxury brands isn’t the solution. So what is? Easy: Buy less in general, but choose better. As you know, that’s a philosophy I’m totally on board with.

 

 

Worn Stories

You'll love this if
your closet is full of meaningful pieces that remind you of something or someone special

The perfect gift for
anyone who likes personal stories, short essays and autobiographies

Overview
Worn clothes is a collection of “sartorial memoirs” - short essays, written by artists, writers and other creatives about one piece of clothing and a specific experience in their life that shaped them as a person. You don’t necessarily have to be into fashion or style to enjoy this book, because the stories aren’t about clothes at all, but about the people that wore them. About Cynthia Rowley’s time as a Girl Scout for example and how that built her business acumen, or Yael Meridan Schori’s experience in the Israeli army or why to this day, for difficult performances Maria Abramovic will wear the same pair of boots that she walked the Great Wall of China in. Some of the stories are sad, some are funny, but all of them are intimate, touching and relatable on so many levels.

 

 

No More Dirty Looks

You'll love this if
you want to transition to a cleaner, safer and environmentally friendly beauty routine

The perfect gift for
health-conscious beauty lovers

Overview
If you have ever wondered about the safety and green factor of your beauty products: this book has all the answers. No More Dirty Looks walks you through the regulatory “wild west of the beauty industry” and distills a mountain of research in an easy-to-digest format. You’ll learn why it’s even possible that so many potentially dangerous chemicals have made their way into our everyday products and why you should interpret labels with a healthy amount of scepticism. After those few initial wake-up call chapters, the book then takes you by the hand and shows you plenty of safe alternatives for common “dirty ingredients” in skin care, make up and hair products. At the end you’ll be fully clued up on the topic and ready to make your own decisions about what to remove from or add to your beauty routine.

 

 

Spark Joy

You'll love this if
you can’t get enough of Marie Kondo’s genius or need some extra tidying motivation

The perfect gift for
people who have never heard of Marie Kondo (the rest probably already owns this book or its predecessor)

Overview
Spark Joy is the follow-up book to Marie Kondo’s worldwide bestseller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and it’s equally effective in kicking your butt in gear. If you are like me you’ll find yourself discarding, organising and checking your stuff for joy before you even manage to finish the first chapter. That’s just what Marie Kondo does to you…. If you are wondering whether you need to read this second book if you’ve already read the first one: No, you don’t need to, but you probably want to. The second book covers extra questions and scenarios, delves deep into the spark joy philosophy, there are cute illustrations, plus after reading both books you’ll be such a tidying pro you’ll have gained a new skill for life. So I say, do it!

 

 

Women in Clothes

You'll love this if
you consider your style to be a reflection of your life and personality

The perfect gift for
style-conscious deep thinkers

Overview
Women in Clothes is about "how the garments we put on every day shape and define our lives." It's a pretty thick book, over 500 pages, full of interviews, essays, poems, journal entries, photos and interview responses that the three main authors collected from 639 women. What I love the most about it is that it’s not just super thought-provoking and entertaining, but also ridiculously relatable. Much of it is written in a stream-of-consciousness style which makes it feel like you are really there listening in on a conversation between best friends who tell each other everything without censoring the gritty, unglamorous parts. Unlike other fashion media, Women in Clothes shows the complex relationship many of us have with clothes in an honest, unfiltered way, and manages to put all those rollercoaster emotions into words. I love it!

 

 

The Curated Closet

You'll love this if
you want a step-by-step guide to building your dream wardrobe

The perfect gift for
anyone who complains about having a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear

Overview
Ahem..so I guess I am biased when it comes to this one... If you are considering giving The Curated Closet as a gift this year, you can read all about it here.

 

 

How to Get Dressed

You'll love this if
you want your outfits to look as good as they do in magazines

The perfect gift for
literally anyone who cares about their clothes

Overview
If there was a college course on how to dress well, How to Get Dressed would be required reading. On a little less than 240 pages Alison Freer, a Hollywood costume designer, teaches you how to assess and improve the fit of your clothes, what to get altered and how to find a great tailor, how to fix issues like pockets that pop open or busted zipper using simple tools you already have at home, and how to properly take care of every piece in your wardrobe. In short: How to make the clothes you already own look and feel better. All of these are things that you rarely (or never) read about elsewhere, but that can mean the difference between an outfit (and a whole closet) that’s just meh and one that’s level 10 amazing (whatever that means to you).

 

 

You Are What You Wear

You'll love this if
you want to know what your clothes say about you

The perfect gift for
anyone who enjoys books with a psychological slant

Overview
I get excited whenever I come across anything that connects fashion and psychology (two of my very favourite topics), so I knew I had to read You Are What You Wear as soon as I saw that it was written by a clinical psychologist! And I am so glad I did! You Are What You Wear is about the various psychological reasons we dress the way we dress and shop the way we shop. Author Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner writes about nine specific types of closet problems in detail (including When you buy more than you need, When you avoid mirrors or When you find yourself forever in work clothes), with plenty of real-life examples and practical strategies. I found myself relating to several of the problems, and even when I couldn’t relate to them personally, the description of the psychological causes behind them were super intriguing.

 

 

Decoding the New Consumer Mind

You'll love this if
you want to improve your shopping habits and stop wasting money on impulse buys

The perfect gift for
people who love research almost as much as shopping

Overview
Decoding the New Consumer Mind is a bit of the odd one out on this list, because it’s not about clothes and has a totally different target audience. But if you ignore the title, and focus on the subtitle instead, you’ll see why I am including it: How and Why We Shop and Buy. This book is about consumer psychology and, even though it’s primarily aimed at marketers, I as a consumer still found it not just hugely fascinating - but also very effective in helping me improve the way I shop. To change something you first need to be acutely aware of the problem, and that’s exactly what this book can help you with: it shows you exactly how the typical shopper’s thought process works and how that process can be influenced. Marketers can use this information to get us to buy more than we had planned, but you can use that information to do the exact opposite, i.e. buy exactly what you want and need, because you are totally immune to any marketing tricks fashion brands throw at you.

 

 

Wear No Evil

You'll love this if
you want practical tips on how to build a more ethical closet

The perfect gift for
eco fashion newbies

Overview
While there are plenty of books out there explaining the costs of fashion these days, few of them actually propose a solution, much less show readers how to implement it. Wear No Evil is different. It’s a refreshingly practical little hand book that starts off with a quick but thorough overview of why we should care about where our clothes come from, but then puts the focus on what we can do as consumers. You’ll learn about the 16 different criteria for fair fashion, plus how to use them to decide which pieces to buy while out shopping. You’ll also find plenty of concrete brand suggestions for all types of items, plus suggestions for eco-friendly beauty products. In part two of the book, the fair fashion discussion is mixed in with more general advice on building a better wardrobe. All in all, this is a great read for anyone who wants to learn more about eco fashion and I especially appreciate the focus on practical, no-fuss advice.

 

 

Deluxe

You'll love this if
you’ve always wondered if luxury brands are worth the money

The perfect gift for
luxury fashion lovers and sceptics alike

Overview
Written by award-winning journalist Dana Thomas, Deluxe is one of those books that make you see the world (or in this case the fashion world) in a whole different light. Deluxe chronicles the story of luxury fashion brands like Prada or Louis Vuitton: how they started off as exclusive ateliers that catered to the aristocracy only, and slowly turned into multi-national businesses that some would say are desired more for their brand name these days than the quality of their products. You can tell just how much research went into this book and it’s all truly fascinating and eye-opening. Definitely worth a read if you are interested in the business, history and psychology of fashion!

 

 

The Joy of Less

You'll love this if
you want a straightforward, motivating guide to decluttering and simplifying

The perfect gift for
anyone that’s curious to find out what this “minimalism” thing is all about

Overview
The Joy of Less is a super helpful little book that will make you want to start simplifying immediately! In my opinion it’s the best introductory book on minimalism and decluttering out there, because it tells you everything you need to know, plus the advice is very clear and to the point. The first part of The Joy of Less gives you a full overview of the philosophy behind minimalism: What does it mean to be a minimalist and why is decluttering your stuff so important? After that author Francine Jay walks you through the entire decluttering process step-by-step, from choosing where to start to everyday maintenance. The last part of the book shows you how to apply these principles to the different rooms in your house. There is also a chapter that is dedicated to simplifying your closet, which I love and agree with in every aspect.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

 


Anuschka Rees9 Comments