The latest trends in fashion may be discovered via flickering screens and social media accounts, but a true appreciation for style requires some good ol’ ink and paper (or perhaps a Kindle). With that theory in mind, we’ve assembled a list of works old and new that deserve a place on any style-conscious man’s shelf. Read on to discover our selections for the modern menswear library below.
True Style and Elegance by Bruce Boyer
If you read one book from this list, make it True Style. The latest volume (2015) from the greatest living menswear writer is a slim work that traces the origins and appeal of everything from Ivy style to the “English Country House Look”. As entertaining as it is informative, it views items of clothing from the ascot to the sock through their cultural and historical contexts, ensuring that menswear veterans will come away with fresh knowledge while neophytes gain a thorough introduction to each subject. And if you have the chance, pick up his out-of-print 1985 work Elegance, which touches on many then-contemporary stores and makers—you might need a tissue box on hand for the chapter on Brooks Brothers.
Men and Style by David Coggins
A book that’s as much about the people who wear clothing as clothing itself, Men and Style is an entertaining read that centers its chapters on “How Did You Dress as a Boy?” or “What Was Your First Cologne,” and then poses the question to writers, designers, filmmakers, and friends of the author. Though the majority of the book is built from compact quotes by these third parties, Coggins has slipped in short essays on the virtues of vintage Playboy or growing a bold beard.
Style & The Man by Alan Flusser
Not to be confused with the title above, Style & The Man is Flusser’s pocket-sized guide to the finer points of dressing. Twenty-five years after its initial publication, its contrite and practical advice on the correct fit of a suit jacket, the most flattering shirt collars for different types of faces, and the proper shoes to wear with black tie attire remain as correct and relevant as ever.
This Guy by Jamie Ferguson
Shot by Canadian photographer Jamie Ferguson, This Guy is a gorgeously produced book that documents the style of such diverse subjects as podcaster Jeremey Kirkland, Drake’s forerunner Michael Hill and vintage shopkeeper Brian Davis. Though photo-driven, this is a coffee table book with meat on its bones: each subject provides their views on dressing and style in enjoyable, unguarded interviews.
How to be a Man by Glenn O’Brien
How to be a Man is at once a manual and manifesto, in which the late, great Glenn O’Brien instructs readers on how to cultivate personal style and refined tastes while rising above the general indifference and boorishness that plagues 21stcentury America. And yet, O’Brien never comes across as a reactionary or a scold: he’s irreverent and charming, laying out the rules of the game while winking at how they might be broken later.
A History of Men's Fashion by Farid Chenoune
This more cerebral read by French fashion historian Farid Chenoune traces the history of men’s clothing from 1760 to the 1990s, divided into four parts spread across 336 generously illustrated pages. Published in 1995 and out of print for some time, Chenoune’s book can still be found on eBay, where its rarity and expertise tend to run a high price.
Ten Garments Every Man Should Own by Pedro Mendes
Published in 2021, Mendes’s work addresses two hot topics of the current moment—sustainability and ethical consumption—and finds the answers to each in the classic male wardrobe. From socks to sweaters to hats, Mendes spells out how to spot quality garments and care for them after you’ve made the purchase, helping readers to build a wardrobe they will wear with pride for years, not seasons.
Japanese Men’s Magazines
Unless you can decipher Japanese characters, “reading” may not be the right word here, but the highly visual nature of bible-thick Japanese men’s magazines gives them cross-cultural appeal. From vintage copies of Free & Easy to current issues of Hail Mary, the options are endless (and often pop up on eBay), but some of our favored titles include Popeye, Pen and Snap Leon. You may discover fresh inspiration from some new Japanese brand you’ve never heard of, or see classic, American-made items appreciated in a way that gives them renewed relevance in your own wardrobe.