Below is a list of my favourite books on menswear, just in time for Christmas, in rough order. There are some noble exclusions, including Eric Musgrave, Bernard Roetzel and Nicholas Storey, but my aim was to list the 10 books that I have enjoyed the most and found the most consistently useful over the years.

I have not been immodest enough to put my own first book, Le Snob: Tailoring, on the list. Although without the scope of most works here, I like to think others would recommend it as a useful pocket-sized guide to tailoring.

Not all of the books below are in print, but most can be found second hand.

1 Dressing the Man – Alan Flusser

The original and still the best. It is what inspired me to explore tailoring, and its guides to suiting and the basics of bespoke are unparalleled. If it lacks anything, it is in the treatment of casual clothing, but it is still always my first recommendation.

2 Elegance – Bruce Boyer

Bruce is my favourite writer on menswear. He has an irritating habit of anticipating my thoughts and putting them onto paper with more wit and eloquence than I can ever hope for. Elegance is structured as a series of chapters on classic items of menswear, from the trench coat to polyester, and concentrates on the origins and development of the various pieces.

3 Savile Row – James Sherwood

With Savile Row, James produced the book that the street and its inhabitants have always deserved. Meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated, it is a must for any fan of English tailoring. Again, it is mostly about history and the historical clients of the firms, rather than aspects of style.

4 Bespoke, Savile Row Ripped and Smoothed – Richard Anderson

The only book that gives an insight into what it is like to work on Savile Row. Richard’s autobiography is very personal and consistently entertaining, but most importantly gives a unique insight into the Row behind closed doors.

5 The Englishman’s Suit – Hardy Amies

Perhaps Bruce is my favourite living writer. Hardy Amies wrote some wonderful things on menswear, and despite the popularity of ‘ABC of Men’s Fashion’, which I also recommend, this is my favourite work of his. His style is peripatetic, passionate and personal – as if you were enjoying a rambling talk in front of a fire.

6 Esquire’s Encyclopedia of 20th Century Men’s Fashions – OE Schoeffler and William Gale

A comprehensive reference manual, only published once I believe and ever since then much-borrowed from libraries and hunted down by menswear enthusiasts. Its focus is historical, but it remains a unique source for anyone involved in the industry.

7 Eminently Suitable – Bruce Boyer

As with Elegance, this is a collection of articles written for Town and Country while Bruce was its men’s fashion editor. It is more practical than the earlier work, including an explanation of what clothing suits which body type (though lacking illustrations) and the best chapter on sprezzatura, or nonchalance, you will find anywhere.

8 A History of Men’s Fashion – Farid Chenoune

This is particularly good for its French perspective. Every other history of menswear seems to be written by an American or an Englishman, so the discussions here of how fashions evolved on the streets of Paris are insightful. Its only disadvantage is a tendency to wander off into social history.

9 Handmade Shoes for Men – Lazlo Vass

Although not extensive, this is the best book available on how welted shoes are made and the intricacies of the various techniques. Well illustrated, with a little potted history of footwear as well.

10 The Handbook of Style – Esquire

The Handbook is as much about casual wear as tailoring, but it is the best of the populist guides put out by magazines in the US and UK. If you like the practical sections (grey paper, lots of sketches) in the Esquire Big Black Book, this is the book for you.  


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James Marwood

Simon is far too much of a gentleman to mention it, but his own book on the subject deserves to be added to the list.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Snob-Guide-Tailoring-Simon-Crompton/dp/1742701698

Lavish Alice

hi..

Nice post.

thanks for sharing the top books of menswear.my favorite books is the Englishman’s Suit – Hardy Amies. l liked it.. it so awesome for men fashion..

t

You forgot American Psycho !!

Anonymous

Very useful, thanks. I’ve read the ‘ABC’ by Aimes and it is as good a read for its laughs and Aimes’s wit as it is for its information. I’m now reading ‘Dressing the Man’.

In terms of casual style, is the final book the best to look at or are there any others you can recommend?

John

Simon–
Do you not have a book in the works? (With Andy Burnham’s photos.) Was hoping to see a coffee-table edition published in time for the holidays.
–John

Anonymous

Hi,

What about Flussers ‘Style & the man’. Does it add anything of value if one have ‘Dressing the man’?

Jack French

I’m reading the Flusser book now. It does contain some interesting material, especially on historical developments and the importance of colour and proportion, but I would rather have a less American treatment of these topics without Flusser’s rather mannered style.

Perhaps your own ‘Le Snob’ book, Simon, provides this kind of alternative.

Sam

I just finished “The Dandy at Dusk: Taste and Melancholy in the Twentieth Century” by Philip Mann. I wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s a beautiful exploration of the essence of dandyism as being about the synthesis of opposites (conventional/transgressive, elitist/egalitarian, minimalist/exuberant) rather than the more common definition of peacocking. It’s not an academic or safe exercise, but all the better for it.

Augustuspenn

To the books Simon lists and those he modestly elides, I’d add The Fairchild Encyclopedia of Menswear; Eric Musgrave, Sharp Suits (as suggested by Simon); and the coffee-table book, Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715-2015, on the interplay between historical styles and the 20th-century avant-garde. I myself was alerted to some makers of importance by Hugo Jacomet’s The Parisian Gentleman and The Italian Gentleman, two hagiographies of discerningly favored brands/artisans. And Christopher Breward’s The Suit: Form, Function, and Style.

Michael

Hi Simon,
What books do you recommend for casual wear other than Esquire? Though I read your articles I find myself wearing casual clothing but sometimes want something tailored,like a pair of tailored trousers .
I am interested more in some tips regarding what to wear regarding body type and how to correct with clothes weakness .
Thanks