Remember books? Those bound collections of paper with words and images printed on them. Don’t worry this isn’t going to be some old man screed filled with “back in my day…” rants. Technology is awesome, and the things that we can do with our phones today is amazing, bested only by the things we’ll be able to do with our phones tomorrow. But enjoying online pursuits doesn’t mean forgoing offline ones such as books. And when it comes to matters of style, sometimes a hard copy is best.
Social media is a great place for sartorial inspiration. Whether it’s following sneakerheads on Instagram or checking out #WDYWT and #OutfitGrid on Tumblr, the opportunities to see other people’s style choices and figure out which do (and don’t) work for you are endless. But they are also very ephemeral. Just calling to mind that Insta pic you saw four weeks ago is challenging, let alone the scrolling involved in actually tracking it down.
Books are much easier to reference because they’re right there sitting on your bookshelf. Like scotch, they also get better with age, as your personal style evolves and matures. The style on one page that seemed out of touch when you were younger, might resonate with your later on as tastes change.
To help you build a style library, we put together this end-of-summer reading list. Some of these books are old, some are new. All of them will serve you well for years to come.
By Shosuke Ishizu, amazon.com
Perhaps you can only know how special something you have is when you see it through the eyes of others. That’s certainly the case with Take Ivy, a Japanese book which documented classic American collegiate style. Originally published in Japan in 1965, the book shows students at Ivy League schools doing everyday things—going to class, eating dinner, competing in sports—but doing so with a casual preppy style that oozes confidence.
ICONS OF MEN’S STYLE
By Josh Sims, amazon.com
Upon first seeing the title, you might think this is another book about the well-dressed men, like Paul Newman and James Dean. To be sure, those handsome gents are featured, but Sims treats the garments themselves as the stars. Clothes and accessories like the trench coat, Panama hat, and aviator sunglasses are all given their due alongside beautiful images of the men that made them look so sharp.
By James Jebbia, amazon.com
Started as a skate shop in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood in 1994, Supreme has grown into a global force in streetwear, all while preserving an air of mystery and exclusivity. This monograph with Rizzoli that was published in 2010 pulls back the curtain on the brand with the famous box logo. Featuring an interview with reclusive founder James Jebbia, the book also showcases the brand’s many collaborations with artists like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
HOW TO BE A MAN: A GUIDE TO STYLE AND BEHAVIOR FOR THE MODERN GENTLEMAN
By Glenn O'Brien, amazon.com
Until recently O'Brien was known as the Style Guy at GQ, but his career is much more diverse. He was a member of Andy Warhol’s factory and the first editor of Warhol’s Interview magazine and the host of the seminal public access show TV Party. In How To Be A Man, he brings that wide breadth of experience and his unique wit to what a man wears and how he should act while wearing it.
SNEAKERS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTOR’S GUIDE
By Unorthodox Styles, amazon.com
Published in 2005, this was one of the first books to focus on modern sneaker culture. As things have grown, it still provides an excellent snapshot of sneakers at a major inflection point, looking at the popular styles of the day (which are already being retro’d a decade later) as well as the historical models that form the foundation of sneaker culture.
ABCs OF MEN’S FASHION
By Hardie Amies, amazon.com
A lot of men’s style books are filled with pretty pictures and not much else. This is a book you actually want to read. Written in 1964, it’s an alphabetical guide, so even the most juvenile reader can get it. Amies tosses off quotable one-liners like, “A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them,” that you are sure to try and pass off as your own.