In today’s video, we discuss my top 10 men’s style books, I explain why I chose them over others, I tell you which ones didn’t make the list and why they didn’t make it, and I mention other books they may make your top 10 list. My number one pick is Dressing the man from Alan Flusser. It was written in 2002 and contains everything you want to know about classic men’s style. It has beautiful photographs, illustration, very good text, it has hands-on graphics that allow you to pick the right patterns, it explains what to do and what not to do and overall, Alan Flusser probably sold more books on classic men’s style than any other author in the world.
Flusser also penned a bunch of other books including Clothes and the man and Style and the man. I believe dressing the man is the best one of all of them because the photography is superior, the layout is nice and it’s also one of the most comprehensive books he wrote. Dressing the man was the second book I had in my menswear library and I cherish it to this day. Even though it was written in 2002, it’s not outdated at this point which is probably one of the reasons it hasn’t been republished. My number two pick is Gentleman from Bernhard Roetzel. It is a German book and it was the first book I ever had that started it all for me. At the time it was written, it was the first and only book of its kind and probably because of that, it was really popular. The author, although German, is an Anglophile and because of that, you can see the British style in that book as well.
If you look at the table of contents, it covers a wide array of classic men’s things including suits, shoes, shirts and so forth. This book has been translated into 19 languages, has been published many times and is updated regularly. That latest edition, for example, is from 2016. The great thing is neither Dressing the man nor the Gentleman are breaking the bank and you can find new or used copies for not very much money. If I just had to buy two books those would be the two. The third book on my list is Bespoke menswear tailoring for gentlemen. It’s likewise written by Bernhard Roetzel and it walks you through the entire process of choosing a fabric, cutting the pattern, having your fitting and getting your final garment.
It also highlights a bunch of different tailors from across Europe so you get a better understanding of the different styles and what works for you. Last but not least, it also talks about other bespoke things such as bespoke shirts or bespoke ties and overall, if you’re considering to get a made to measure garment or a bespoke custom garment, I think this is money well spent because you learn a lot about the process, the pitfalls, and the mistakes you can make, and even if you’re not in the market for a custom garment yet, you just learn a lot about how garments are made traditionally and because of that, it’s my number 3 pick. The 4th book on my list is the Esquire Encyclopedia of 20th century men’s fashion. That’s quite a mouthful and even though it’s so old, it’s such a good book because it’s very comprehensive and it’s over 600 pages.
Just look at the table of contents, it doesn’t just talk about formal eveningwear but also formal day wear and there is a chapter on waistcoats, cummerbunds, and other clothing. It’s a fantastic book that has lots of illustrations as well as a glossary and part of a dictionary that really help you to find things quickly if you don’t know what certain terminology means. That aside, it’s usually something you leave in your coffee table and read on a cold day in front of the fire. Sadly, this book is out of print and you can sometimes find it at libraries but more often than not, they sold it years ago.
Because it’s out of print, it often goes north of $1,000 per copy sometimes you’re lucky and you may end up getting it for 100 or $200 so be patient and when the opportunity arises, definitely get a copy. Book number five on my list is a fashion and textile encyclopedia in German. It was originally written by Ingrid Loschek who sadly died because of cancer but it’s now continued by Gundula Wolter.
The focus of this encyclopedia is not just men but also women and fashion and fashion history, in general. I found it extremely valuable and if you speak German, it’s a no-brainer, get this book! If you don’t speak German, you have two alternatives. One is Fairchild encyclopedia of menswear which, as the name implies, just focus on menswear but I don’t find it nearly as good. Another good book is the fashion dictionary by Guido Vergani which is an Italian so it’s more fashion-forward nevertheless, you find lots of useful information here and just look how much you get.
Not a book you would read in front of the fireplace but something to look up terminologies and things when you need them. Obviously, if you are in the classic menswear business, you produce a lot of content and because of that, encyclopedias and in-depth research literature is very important for us. For you as a style enthusiast, it may not be something you must have in your library. Book number six is called The Elegant man. I put it on the list because it has a really comprehensive section about fabrics.
You don’t just learn about worsteds and flannels but also about things like the weaves and everything you need to know as a style enthusiast. On top of that, it covers all the basics of a classic man’s wardrobe even though the style sections are a little dated because it was published in the 90s, it is overall a very solid performer with good basic knowledge and it’s a book that should not be missing from your library. Book number seven is another German one, Alles bUber Herrenschuhe by Helge Sternke.
This monumental book title has everything about men’s shoes, isn’t perfect but it’s definitely the most comprehensive attempt about anything there is to men’s shoes. Learn about construction, different models, their history and if you speak German and like shoes, it should not miss from your bookshelf. It’s also not cheap and retails for around 200 euros. Now if you speak English, I suggest you check out a book from Daszlo Vass about Goodyear welted shoes for men whch is very educational about how shoes are made and it’s something you can read and understand. My number eight pick would be the History of men’s fashion by Farid Chenoune. Even though the author’s French and he wrote it in French, there’s also an English version of it. It has about 300 pages and talks about men’s fashion history which is very interesting for someone like me who always likes to dig deeper and understand why certain elements in classic menswear evolved, why they remain and how did they come to be.
The ninth book in my list is called Sharp suits by the Englishman Eric Musgrave. I met Eric once at his club in London and he has been into men’s clothing for the most part of his life. He is very knowledgeable and he put together a book just about the suit, its history, the different silhouettes, the patterns, and since the suit is so central to classic elegance and style, I put it on my list. Now the 10th book on my list may surprise you, it’s the Mercury dictionary of textile terms and it was published in the 1950s. So it’s quite old but I love it because it’s more than 500 pages of detailed information about anything related to cloth, fabric, textiles, yarns, they talk about the weaving patterns, the history, and anything else you wanted to know.
That’s particularly important for me as a menswear designer and creator because I want to understand how patterns and certain fabrics and styles came to be and what makes them different from others. For you, as a consumer, it’s really not as useful. Because of that, let me talk about a bunch of other books that might interest you more. First let’s look at men’s accessories books. You guessed it! most of them evolved around cufflinks such as this one. It’s from Susan Jonas and Marilyn Nissenson and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. There are so plenty of other books about cufflinks such as this one from the US, this one from Italy, this one from Germany, or this one from Belgium. It’s certainly the largest format and has the most pictures of them all. If you want the links and ISBNs of all those books please head over to our website where we provide them. Another great recent book edition comes from James Sherwood and it is called jewelry for gentlemen. It covers rings, cufflinks, brooches, chains, necklaces, lapel pins and brooches and anything else you could imagine a gentleman to wear.
If you like 1930 style and the way we are inspired by it today please check out my ebook gentlemen of the Golden Age and you can learn more about it in this video here. So what about some books that you think should have been in the list such as those from Bruce Boyer True style or elegance? First let me say I’m a great admirer of Bruce and of all the authors I mentioned here, I think he has the best writing style. On top of that, he has a wonderful personal style. So why didn’t it make my list? One, his books have no photographs. Personally I believe that classic men’s style and clothing is best consumed in a visual way via a video or photos. I’ve discussed this with Bruce Boyer personally in the past and he believes that nothing dates a book as quickly as having photos in it and while I agree with him on that front, I still think photos help the consumer to better understand what he’s writing.
Two, a lot of what you can read in Bruce’s books are individual articles that were written for magazines or different outlets. In his books they’re all combined and so sometimes I personally miss that coherence that you get when you write one book from start to finish. That being said I have all of his books in my possession I really enjoy them and I think you should invest in them too, they’re just not my personal top 10. So what about the books from Hugo Jacomet? You may know him as the Parisian gentleman. In recent years he has published a book Parisian gentleman as well as the Italian gentleman. Both books are beautiful they are large oversized coffee table books with beautiful photographs and I think overall it’s something you should invest in at the same time those books are more focused on craftsman and different houses as well as their history. Personally I don’t care as much about the history of the people but more about the products they create.
Because of that Parisian gentleman was not in my top ten list. Now the Italian gentleman on the other hand has lots of useful information about Italian bespoke tailors and if you’re in a market for a bespoke suit from Italy I definitely suggest you invest in that book. He walks through different houses in the different styles and probably no one has visited as many tailors as Hugo Jacomet and his wife which are both behind the Parisian gentleman. I simply wish it would be more like a sleevehead’s guide to Sicilian tailoring which is another book that walks you through the tailors from Sicily in a very hands-on practical manner and again you can find links to all those books on our web site here.
So what about the books by Simon Crompton from permanent style? I think Simon has a great wealth of knowledge very detailed very in-depth he really understands bespoke and has visited many craftsmen at the same time his books either focus on brands which again I’m not so interested in because I know all of those brands already I know their benefits and their shortcomings and so there’s not much value there for me Simon also speaks about things that are not primarily about brands but about clothing and style and tailoring the problem with those is they’re not as comprehensive as the information that you can find on his website I know that’s often the fault of the publisher not of Simon Crompton but at the end of the day if I invest money in the book I want more information than what I can get free online.
Of course if you like his writings on the website buying his book is a great way to support him. that being said if you want to learn from real-world outfits and get information you can not find on his website I suggest to buy his book The Style Guide because it shows you men from this day and age that wear things and he explains why it works for them in a particular situation and so you can draw conclusions from that for your own outfits. A nother book that goes in the same vein is called the Gentleman’s Lookbook Bernhard Roetzel.
Also, I really like the books I am dandy and We are dandy by Rose Callahan and Nathaniel Adams that highlight unique personal style paired with a story of the people and how they created it. Just as a side note I’m also in the gentleman’s book as well as the I’m dandy book so I may be a bit partial but honestly they’re hands down really really good books. Alright ladies and gentleman that’s it from me I’m gonna head back to the fireplace and read some more books. if you want to read those books please head over to our website where provide you links to all of them also please check out our guide on a hundred menswear books where we list them with prices and give you a short summary of each book so you might find something that suits your taste even more if you enjoyed this video please give us a thumbs up subscribe to our channel hit that little bell so videos like this come right to your inbox.
in today’s video I’m wearing a typical outfit that I would wear when reading a book at the fireplace on a cold rainy day it consists of a green checked shirt with a barrel cuff I’m pairing it with a Ascot in a paisley pattern from Fort Belvedere which you can find in our shop here my cardigan is made out of a nice melange wool with yellow and grey tones it’s from Old England in Paris and had bought it at a flea market last time I was in Paris my pants are from Polo Ralph Lauren through black corduroys and I paired him with over the calf socks in shadow striped and purple and teal which pick up the colors of my Ascot and tie together my green velvet slippers you can find those socks in our shop here.