New York; Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2014

For some students, the best part of back-to-school is shopping for new clothes!  Take care of your school’s fashionistas with a new offering from ever-reliable publisher DK, The Fashion Book. It gives us a look at the styles worn by fashion-conscious Ancient Greecians and Egyptians, by hipsters in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and on through the modern era of fashion.   It wraps up with introductions to the designers and labels of the 20th and 21st centuries.

In each section of the book, there is a page devoted to showing us how to “Get the Look” using cues from the past.  Take, for instance, the 1920’s flapper era.  The essence of the look can be achieved by sporting a “close cut, sleek hairdo,” wearing a long, tasselled pendant, and carrying a beaded or fringed purse.  Following other tips, we can achieve the look of the Retro Tomboy a la Rosie the Riveter, or  the Modern Romantic look of a Jane Austen character, among others.

With a peppering of historical and literary references, this light-hearted book is not just a fluffy fashion title.  It is loaded with rare vocabulary (do you know what a bourdaloue is?), that fashion fans will soak up like a 1980’s Olivia Newton-John sweatband.  In between eras, we learn about careers in fashion, the origins of some fabrics, and the anatomy of a fashion show audience, not to mention many details about the history of unmentionables.

Richly colored illustrations and photographs show texture and layers, making browsing this title a pleasure.  In the Designer Directory, readers will learn about the people behind the designer labels they see in slick magazine ads:  Burberry started out making waterproof jackets; Christian LaCroix went out of business – you’ve got to know about more than fashion to run a fashion house; and Louis Vuitton has been dead for a long, long time.  To help with new vocabulary, there is an illustrated glossary, along with an index.

Part fashion guide, part history lesson, and part pop culture, The Fashion Book shows how contemporary events shaped the styles of the day and vice versa; how new knowledge changes what people wear, and how changing times affect style.  This title is worth the space on any middle or high school library shelf.

CCSS:  Reading Standards for Informational Text:     Grade 6, Standards 1-7, 10; Grade 7, Standards 1-7, 9, 10; Grade 8, Standards 2-7, 9, 10; Grades 9-12, Standards 4, 6, 7.

Dewey:  391         Interest:  Grades 6 – 12

Elementary Readers might enjoy:  Big Wig: A Little History of Hair by Kathleen Krull.

Middle School Readers might enjoy:  So, You Want to Work in Fashion?  by Patricia Wooster.

Fiction Pairing:  The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (of course).

Blog:  Teen Vogue has a varety of blogs on their Outfits from Our Favorite Personal Style Bloggers Around the Globe site, according to Teen Vogue readers.  These blogs are geared toward the teen/college girl market and budget.  Some are more budget conscious than others, but have cute mostly appropriate looks.

More on LiLI:  Fashion, Costume and Culture:  Clothing, Headware, Body Decorations, and Footwear Through the Ages at Gale Virtual Reference Library.