General Menswear Survey Books

The following are good general source books for anyone specifically studying the history of menswear. These would be good in addition to any general fashion survey books.

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De Marly, Diana. Fashion for Men: an Illustrated History. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985. – This small book is out of print, but used copies aren’t that expensive. While no means comprehensive, this book gives an excellent survey of men’s fashion within a social context. The images are mostly paintings, and the reproductions are small and in black and white, but the captions give full sources and excellent explanations. Primary literary sources give a thorough social context to artwork and text. Starting in the 1300’s, this is one of the few books specifically on menswear to cover anything before the 19th century. A British art historian and theatrical costume designer who trained at Oxford, De Marly has written a number of books on fashion, from biographies on Worth and Dior to histories of theatrical costumes and working dress, most of which were published in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Hill, Daniel Delis. American Menswear : from the Civil War to the Twenty-First Century. Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 2011. – This recent publication is an incredibly valuable new resource for the study of menswear. Starting with 1860 and ending at present day (2010s), the author gives a good overview of social movements with every period and puts men’s fashion into a greater cultural context. Attempts are made to capture a fully-fashioned figure for every period, including details on shirts and collars, jewelry, hats, shoes, and even nightdress. Every page includes images, primarily from advertisements, fashion magazines and tailoring catalogues. Trained as a retail fashion illustrator, Hill now teaches Fashion History at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX. This book was commissioned by the Costume Society of America, after the publication of his textbook History of World Costume & Fashion. This book also inspired his next publication, The History of Men’s Underwear & Swimwear.

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The following books are out of print, and tend to be very expensive to purchase used ($300+), but are an excellent resource is you can afford them or find them in a library:

 Chenoune, Farid. A History of Men’s Fashion. Paris: Flammarion, 1993. – This survey book of men’s fashion has been a standard inclusion in fashion resources, despite it being out of print and rather expensive to come by. It is a great resource for the person interested in the art historical perspective, with great attention to social trends and how fashion and culture are related. Excellent quality photographs are included along with paintings, advertisements, and cartoons with occasionally wonderful captions putting the fashions into their proper context, but there is no real attempt to address the simple question within individual periods of  “who wore what when” within individual periods, so for the scholar looking for in-depth attention to all areas of dress for any particular period it often falls short. However, the book as a whole is divided into styles of suits worn by men between 1760 and 1990, which should provide a broad perspective to those interested in general trends in menswear. Most of the sources are French, which gives a continental addition to the existing work on menswear. Chenoune is an instructor at the Institute Français de la mode and the École nationale superieure des arts decoratifs, and has published books on designers Gaultier, Brioni, Yves Saint Laurent, and Dior, as well as histories of bags and lingerie.

De Buzzaccarini, Vittoria, Franco Jacassi, and Sergio Loro Piana. Elegance and Style: Two Hundred Years of Men’s Fashions. Milano: Lupetti & Co., 1992 – Vittoria De Buzzaccarini is an Italian writer and journalist, and has written a number of books about men’s fashion. This survey history covers the French Revolution through the 1960s, and most of her images are tailoring illustrations from French or Italian sources, which provides the field with a great look at a more European angle of menswear, and unlike the duplication in most other menswear publications you won’t find these images anywhere else. Her book Men’s Coats is also a good resource.

Schoeffler, O. E, and William Gale. Esquire’s Encyclopedia of 20th Century Men’s Fashions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973 – This book is an excellent resource for 20th century fashion, and one of the few where you can look up the history of individual items instead of just time periods. This provides fascinating context for, for instance, the history of raincoats or footwear, which is particularly useful to the historian focusing on particular clothing items. Contemporary fashion illustrations from Esquire give a great parallel visual explanation to the changing styles.

 

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