General Fashion Survey Books

These books are not specifically about menswear, but are the basic survey books out there that cover both men’s and women’s clothing. They’re useful for anything before the 18th century, when it is rare to find information just about menswear, especially for any pre-medieval cultures.

Batterberry  Boucher  DavenportLaver  Mendes Tortora

Batterberry, Michael, and Ariane Ruskin Batterberry. Fashion, the mirror of history. New York: Greenwich House, 1982.  

Boucher, Francois, and Yvonne Deslandres. 20,000 years of fashion : the history of costume and personal adornment. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1987.  Originally published in French in 1965, this is one of the original standard surveys.

Davenport, Millia. The book of costume. New York: Crown Publishers, 1948. – A bit dated now and sadly out of print, but still a favorite for many scholars.

Laver, James, Amy De La Haye, and Andrew Tucker. Costume and fashion : a concise history. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002. – Another original standard, nicely updated. Convenient for students, and certainly abides by its title – it is the most concise of all survey books.

Mendes, Valerie D, and Amy De La Haye. 20th century fashion. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1999.  Another great fashion resource in the Thames & Hudson World of Art series, and a good “sequel” to the Laver book.

Tortora, Phyllis G. Survey of Historic Costume: a History of Western Dress. New York, NY: Fairchild Publications, 2010. – An excellent resource, often used as a textbook in fashion history courses. This book provides wonderful social context, with period maps and charts of, for instance, ancient civilizations or royal inter-marriages across Europe. The many different types of sources include: architecture, statues, paintings, and extant garments. Contemporary clothing criticism and advice on dress gives wonderful historical context, and influences on other periods in history, and usage by modern designers as inspiration are excellent resources for designers or those studying the effects of history on contemporary dress. The wonderful range of sources is marred by terrible photographs taken by the author’s husband(?), but excellent captions are provided for images to put them into a fashion context. This book is full of re-drawings done by the authors, which are not terribly well done, but do provide helpful overviews of fashion trends (for instant, various headdresses in Ancient Egypt.) The book constantly reiterates historical chronology and both assesses period sources and provides a bibliography for each historical section. Some urban and working class dress is included.