Think You Know Your Favorite Style Icons? Think Again.

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Think You Know Your Favorite Style Icons? Think Again.

You might not know it just by looking at me, but I am obsessed with fashion. Fashion designers. Fashion icons. If it involves fashion, I’m into it. Luckily, there are heaps of fashion books at the library, and they are the perfect way to feed your addiction, while still offering some interesting information. You’ll find these particular books in the children’s non-fiction section, but trust me, fashion addicts of all ages will love them.

Fashion Rebels: Style Icons Who Changed the World through Fashion by Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia
This book is jam-packed with little-known facts about some of the most well-known fashionistas. For example, did you know that French entertainer Josephine Baker worked as a spy during WWII, smuggling top-secret information underneath her flashy outfits about the Nazis? Or that Jackie O’s pink wool suit that is forever associated with JFK’s assassination was a Chanel knock-off? Or that Ellen DeGeneres, famous for her vest and pants ensembles, was the first female comedian invited onto The Johnny Carson Show? All of the most stylish women dating back to the year 69 BCE (thanks, Cleopatra) are included in this book, along with tips on how you can emulate your favorite icons. 

Different Like Coco by Elizabeth Matthews
When you hear the brand name Chanel, you think “French and expensive.” But designer Coco Chanel’s upbringing was far from luxurious, and this book covers every surprising detail. This biography describes Chanel’s early life, including her abandonment at an orphanage and her poor upbringing by nuns who taught her how to sew -- not what you would expect from the designer who created the timeless “little black dress.” The book chronicles how she created her signature cardigan jacket as well as how her corset-less garments were a hit during WWI. Included in the back of the book is a timeline outlining other career defining moments in Chanel’s life.  

Hot Pink: The Life & Fashions of Elsa Schiaparelli by Susan Goldman Rubin
So much of the fashion we enjoy today was created in the early twentieth century by an Italian designer - and rival of Chanel - named Elsa Schiaparelli. This book, which includes excerpts from her autobiography, goes into great detail about her friendships with artists like Salvador Dali, and how they creatively inspired each other. For instance, the color hot pink (hence the title of this book) was developed by Schiaparelli and artist Jean Clement. In the back of the book, you’ll also find a list of Schiaparelli's fashion firsts that we still indulge in, including bolero jackets, shoulder bags, wedge shoes, and wraparound dresses -- just to name a few. 

Bad Girls of Fashion: Style Rebels from Cleopatra to Lady Gaga by Jennifer Croll
This is another informative and entertaining book about women who challenged the status quo. While some of the women in this book shook up society by chance, most of the women in this book made conscious efforts to push boundaries through their fashion choices. In the 19th century, author Aurore Dupin wrote under a male pen name (George Sand) and dressed like a man in public so that she could enjoy the freedoms that men enjoyed. Angela Davis, political activist and Black Panther, was photographed with her natural Afro and became an instant icon of black political resistance. Today, her silhouette is still used on t-shirts, tote bags, and posters. Talk about a lasting impression. 

Why’d They Wear That? Fashion as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee
Fashion trends are frequently a reflection of current events, political climate, and pop culture. This book gives a comprehensive look at how fashion trends aligned with major historical movements and events. For example, during the Great Depression, clothing trends shifted away from Bessie Smith's flashy flapper look and moved towards simple designs and dark colors. There are, of course, more extreme (and slightly disgusting) fashion trends outlined in this book. Like the fact that Marie Antoinette sculpted her hair with beef fat paste to keep it upright and wouldn’t wash her hair for months at a time. The trends aren’t always pleasant, but they are definitely interesting.