18+ Novels About Fashion and Dazzling Nonfiction Picks Too!

novels about fashion

I’ve always been obsessed with novels about fashion. Ever since I read Confessions of a Shopaholic, it’s safe to say I’ve been hooked!

Below you will find some of my favorite fashion novels from recent years. If you are as interested in fashion as I am, you’ll find something to enjoy on this list!

I also included a few non-fiction picks because I thought they would help round out the list. Let me know if you decide to read any of these!

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Historical Fiction Novels about Fashion

The Sunset Crowd

The Sunset Crowd by Karin Tanabe

This fashion book set in Hollywood in the 1970s is perfect for fans of Daisy Jones and the Six. In the backdrop of Hollywood, three women with ambition try and stay on top with their unrelenting ambition in a time when men ruled the industry.

I learned so much about the world of fashion, film, and music in the 70s. I was so intrigued by the cast of characters who ruled the Sunset Strip and the con artist in their midst. This 70s book swept into their world and I never wanted to leave.

The Last Dress from Paris

The Last Dress from Paris by Jade Beer

This dual-timeline story was such a fun read. At her grandmother’s request, Lucille has been sent to Paris to retrieve a Dior dress. But what should have been an easy task becomes a scavenger hunt when the dress in question is missing.

Lucille begins tracking down the dress and uncovering the history of Alice Ainsley, wife of the British Ambassador to France in the early 50s. Lucille’s hunt for the dress soon turns into her seeking Alice’s connection to her beloved grandmother.

I loved the way the timelines unfolded and the secrets were unveiled. It was lovely to understand womanhood in the 1950s from the lens of Lucille, who uses the lessons of the past to resurrect her own floundering life. This historical fiction is perfect for our beach reads 2023 post.

the dressmaker

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

What boat books list doesn’t include stories set on the Titanic? Not ours! Tess is hired to be a ladies’ maid aboard the Titanic, hoping it’s her chance to become a seamstress.

When Tess is rescued after disaster strikes, she’s forced to reckon with the possibility that her employer might have sacrificed the lives of others to save her own skin. Tess has to decide if she should keep her employer happy or stay true to herself.

I liked that this story looks at events after Titanic instead of just ending when the boat sank. I really enjoyed this one.

Mademoiselle chanel

Mademoiselle Chanel by C. W. Gortner

Coco Chanel is a fascinating woman, who is famed for her stylish, sophisticated fashions. Yet this story explores her connection to the Nazis during WWII and just how far she would go to stay on top.

Why We Loved it: I loved this story, but ended up hating the woman it was about. I grew up loving Chanel designs and idolizing the fashion icon. However, when I learned more about her life, I was scandalized and horrified….but I couldn’t put it down!

Find this book in Books set in the 1920s, Biographical Fiction / Fashion Novels / Books Set in France

Fashion Novels about Dressmakers

Dressmaker of propect heights

The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights by Kitty Zeldis

In this Jazz Age novel, three women’s lives intersect in Brooklyn in 1924. All because Bea, a dress store owner, has moved from New Orleans with her charge and seamstress, Alice, in hopes of meeting Catherine.

As their lives intersect, they forge friendships, confront their pasts, and learn about the bonds of found family. This historical fiction fashion book moves from New York City to late 19th century Russia and to New Orleans in the 1910s.

Why We Like it: It was a quick read that focused a lot on sewing, Jewish history, and family ties. #Gifted by Harper Books

Find this book in Books about the Jazz Age / Novels about Fashion

The Gown and more books about Queen Elizabeth II.

The Gown by Jennifer Robson

I thought this was going to be a wedding book about Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip based on the cover, but I was wrong. Instead, it was about a couple of seamstresses who worked on the now-Queen’s wedding dress.

Part historical fiction, part romance, part mystery – this pick from books about Queen Elizabeth II reminded me a bit of The Lost Vintage. This story is definitely not a royal romance but instead offers brief glimpses into the wedding dress-making process.

The prince and the dressmaker and more graphic novels

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

This is an LGBTQ graphic novel that I read in a few hours.  Prince Sebastian is a prince by day and Princess Crystallia by night. The only one who knows his secret is his seamstress who hopes to make a name for herself with her fashion.

My son read it twice because “I loved the message that it’s okay to be yourself”. I don’t normally read graphic novels, but, I loved it!!! What a wonderfully inclusive, feel-good story.

Contemporary Fiction Books about Fashion Magazines

Cover story

Cover Story by Susan Rigetti

Like everyone, I fell deep into the Netflix show Inventing Anna. When I realized this story was about a similar tale, I knew it would be the perfect summer book about con artists!

Essentially it’s about an intern named Lora who was taken in by an Elle editor named Cat Wolff whose glamorous life quickly takes over her own. But is Cat who she claims to be or is she someone else entirely?

Let’s just say this is one of those books where you get to the end and you want to go back and re-read. I gasped when I read the final chapter of this pick from summer reads 2023.

The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

The Devil Wears Prada is the OG fashion novel. Written about an unfashionable assistant to a demanding magazine editor (clear supposed to be Vogue’s Anna Wintour) this book became the inspiration by the cult classic movie of the same name.

I read this story as a teenager and found myself utterly enthralled by the antics of the editor, the demands of the fashion industry, and all the stunning clothing descriptions. It’s truly the best fashion novel ever!

bergdorf blondes

Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Skyes

This charming debut fashion novel from Plum Skyes was one of my favorite reads back in college. It’s over-the-top label naming and look inside the world of Manhattan’s elite had me googling places and things non-stop.

While the fashions might be dated now, they will be nostalgic throwbacks for anyone living in the early ’00s.

Contemporary Fashion Novels

confessions of a shopaholic

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophia Kinsella

No list of novels about fashion would be complete without this pick. Shopaholic Becky Bloomwood has it all – an amazing flat, a killer wardrobe, socialite friends, but there is a catch. She can’t afford any of it!

As she tries to cut back her spending to pay off her bills, she only gets deeper into the hole. Becky is hysterical, and the scenarios within the pages are ridiculous. I loved this frivolous story, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

a vintage affair

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

Phoebe decides its time to quit her well-paying job and finally open the store of her dreams – a vintage clothing store! Phoebe delights in finding treasures in the attics. of private clients or sorting through discarded wears at thrift stores.

But when she finds a child’s coat in the wardrobe of one. of her favorite clients, she realizes she might have come across a different kind of find. As her friendship grows with the owner, secrets unravel and truths are set free.

I loved reading about the vintage fashions within this fashion novel. It’s a perfect vacation read.

the second chance boutique

The Second Chance Boutique by Louisa Leaman

The Whispering Dress bridal boutique.  where she matches each bride with the dress they need, not the dress they think they should wear.  When she finds a one-of-a-kind dress from the 1950s, everything changes.  She starts to break her first rule: never covet a dress.

As her own history is developed, a new possibility for a future emerges as she becomes more infatuated with the dress. I love this feel-good book about fashion. 

contemporary fiction header

Ultimate List of Contemporary Fiction

Love Contemporary Fiction? I do too! The Ultimate List of Contemporary Fiction is carefully divided by genre.

Non-Fiction Books about Fashion

When Women Ran Fifth Avenue

When Women Ran Fifth Avenue: Glamour and Power at the Dawn of American Fashion by Julie Satow

This nonfiction book tells the story of Hortense Odlum, Geraldine Stutz, and Dorothy Shaver, three revolutionary women in the world of New York City department stores. These women, who helmed Bonwit Teller, Henri Bendel, and Lord & Taylor, helped to revitalize a dying industry by meeting the needs of their ideal customers – women like them.

While each department store was known for something different, their success was all based on the women in charge and their unique business savvy.

Why I Like It: I had fun getting a peek behind the curtain of some of the most well-known department stores in the world. While none of these stores have survived to the present day, it was still nice to learn about their storied history.

Find this book in Books About Fashion

HRH: So Many Thoughts

HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style by Elizabeth Holmes

I’m an avid follower of Elizabeth Holmes’ account (you should be too) where she explains the significance of the Royal Family’s wardrobe. The nuance and attention to detail the Royals use when dressing is fascinating to me. I knew I needed to read this book about royals and fashion! This is such a feel-good nonfiction book.

Elizabeth breaks it down in an accessible and understandable way. ⁣ I’m thrilled that her book delivers everything I’ve come to expect from her and more. This in-depth look at The Queen, Diana, Catherine, and Meghan is informative and beautiful. This is the perfect coffee table book for any fashion lover and is a must for books about Queen Elizabeth II!

Skirts

Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell

I often find myself drawn to non-fiction books about fashion and women’s careers. I found this history of modern feminism through the changing of hemlines to be quite interesting!

From the ankles being shown post-WWI, Dior’s new look in WWII, the shoulder pads donned by career ladies in the 80s, and more, it was inspiring to see how fashion tells the story of female empowerment. This is a perfect place to start if you are looking for nonfiction books for beginners.

The Other Side of the Coin

The Other Side of the Coin by Angela Kelly

I had royal fever this month while working on our Royal Reads post, so it’s no surprise that when my library hold for this autobiographical audiobook came through, I dove right into it and absolutely loved this non-fiction pick from books about QEII.

Angela Kelly is the Queen’s head dresser and long-time companion. She details her process for dressing the queen, talks about some iconic looks, and even reveals a few personal stories about her time with Her Majesty.

Add this fashion story to your list of books to read if you like The Crown. This would be such a great book for book clubs to start a discussion of what it would be like working for the queen. This is one of my favorite feel-good nonfiction books.

kingdom of prep

The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J.Crew by Maggie Bullock

An inside look at a brand that defined my 20s? Sign me up to read this bad boy! This feel-good nonfiction book takes a look at J.Crew’s creation, its juggernaut success in the 90s and 2000s, and what lead to the company’s declaration of bankruptcy at the outbreak of the pandemic.

With dozens of interviews and extensive research, Bullock delivers a non-fiction book about fashion that’s compelling and nostalgic while also being brutally honest.

More Books about Fashion

Did you find a book about fashion you want to read?

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2 Comments

    1. Hi Nancy. Thank you for the message. There is a link to download the reading challenge in the 2024 reading challenge post. You can also find all of our downloads in the printable library.