Whether it’s becoming a stylist, an editor, a store owner or a designer, fashion is a notoriously difficult field to break into. Obviously, any hands-on experience you can get—fashion internships, volunteer work, being an assistant—helps tremendously, but unexpected inspiration can also be found in books written by women and men who have made it in the industry.
From honest memoirs written by Vogue bigwigs Grace Coddington and Andre Leon Talley to advice books written by successful designers, entrepreneurs and bloggers, these books will give you an inside look on how to do what you’re dying to do: get a job in the fashion industry. Who better to learn from than people who have been in your shoes and made it to where you want to be?
To that end, we’ve rounded up some the most inspiring and useful books out there to help you land the job of your dreams.
A version of this article was originally published in August 2014.
The Vanity Fair Diaries
The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown
Former editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, Tina Brown, divulges all the details of her eight years working for the magazine.
The Vanity Fair Diaries, $17.85 at Amazon
The Big Life
The Big Life by Ann Shoket
Ann Shoket, who was editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine from 2007 to 2014, wrote a book perfect for millennials just starting out in the fashion industry.
The Big Life, $14.77 at Amazon
My Journey by Donna Karan
Renowned fashion designer, Donna Karan, gets very, very personal in this detailed memoir about her life, her marriages and her career in the fashion industry.
My Journey, $11.60 at Amazon
I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist
I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist by Betty Halbreich
If you've ever wondered what it was like to work as a personal shopper, specifically at Bergdorf Goodman, then read Betty Halbreich's memoir immediately. She spent nearly 40 years of her life doing just that.
I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist, $10.13 at Amazon
How to Set up & Run a Fashion Label
How to Set up & Run a Fashion Label by Toby Meadows
Even if you're the most talented new designer out there, you definitely need to know about the business aspect of fashion, like PR and marketing.
This guide will teach you the ins and outs of the fashion industry from e-commerce to sustainability, so that you can start your own label and become a successful at it.
How to Set up & Run a Fashion Label, $24.50 at Amazon
The Teen Vogue Handbook
The Teen Vogue Handbook by Teen Vogue
If you want to learn about every position in the fashion world, from photographers and models to bloggers, this is your one-stop shop.
Full of profiles of newcomers, descriptions of jobs and advice for school and your career, the Teen Vogue Handbook is the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at the people running the industry.
The Teen Vogue Handbook, $10.55 at Amazon
Fashion 2.0: Blogging Your Way to The Front Row
Fashion 2.0: Blogging Your Way to The Front Row by Yuli Ziv
In an age when fashion bloggers reign, it's important to know the ins and outs of the business before you set out to become the industry's next top blogger.
From the founder of Style Coalition, you'll learn all the secrets behind starting a business, networking and staying successful.
Fashion 2.0: Blogging Your Way to The Front Row, $9.99 at Amazon
Nice Is Just a Place in France
Nice Is Just a Place in France: How to Win at Basically Everything by The Betches
Not just for someone who's going into the fashion industry, but really for anyone who needs a little inspiration to, well, not take people's crap, this is the perfect book.
Nice Is Just a Place in France: How to Win at Basically Everything, $9.29 at Amazon
Grace: A Memoir
Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington
How the heck does one become the creative director at Vogue? Well, that's exactly what you'll read about in Grace Coddington's memoir. Plus, who doesn't want to read all about brushing arms with Anna Wintour on the reg?
Grace: A Memoir, $16.59 at Amazon
I Just Graduated Now What
I Just Graduated ... Now What? by Katherine Schwarzenegger
For those of you who have graduated high school or college and thought, "Holy crap, what now?" this book will answer all your questions.
You'll read about the experiences of people who have been there, from Eva Longoria to John Legend.
I Just Graduated ... Now What?, $14.94 at Amazon
A.L.T.: A Memoir
A.L.T.: A Memoir by Andre Leon Talley
Who better to inspire you than one of the most striking people in the fashion industry, Andre Leon Talley?
In this memoir, Andre will share his experience on how a North Carolina man became a staple in the fashion industry.
A.L.T.: A Memoir, $49.50 at Amazon
Secrets of Stylists: An Insider's Guide to Styling the Stars
Secrets of Stylists: An Insider's Guide to Styling the Stars by Sasha Charnin Morrison
To survive in this competitive industry, you'll need to know some serious tips.
If you're interested in the styling world, this book will help you with everything you need to know from how to create unforgettable looks and landing a choice job to working with the pros, all taught by celebrity stylists themselves.
Secrets of Stylists: An Insider's Guide to Styling the Stars, $8.50 at Amazon
The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever
The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever by Teri Agins
Written by Wall Street Journal reporter and columnist Teri Agins, this book explores all aspects of the fashion industry, from manufacturing, retailing and licensing to image making and financing.
You'll also get an insider look at things you probably didn't even know happened, like Donna Karan fighting with financiers, the rivalry between Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger and the commitment to haute couture that sent Isaac Mizrahi's business spiraling.
The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever, $12.31 at Amazon
The Fashion Designer Survival Guide
The Fashion Designer Survival Guide by Mary Gehlhar
For anyone who is interested in becoming a fashion designer, this is the book you must get your hands on.
Written by Mary Gehlhar, consultant to hundreds of designers, including Zac Posen, Twinkle by Wenlan, Rebecca Taylor and Cloak, you'll get behind-the-scenes insight and essential business tips on creating and sustaining a successful career as an independent designer.
Also, you'll gather tips from some of the industry's most well-known names, like Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Cynthia Rowley, Diane von Furstenberg, Richard Tyler and top executives at Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York.
The Fashion Designer Survival Guide, $14.85 at Amazon
D.V. by Diana Vreeland
The autobiography of one of 20th century’s greatest fashion icons, Diana Vreeland, is a must-read for anyone interested in the fashion industry.
The one-time fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar and editor-in-chief of Vogue reveals just how she became the icon she is.
D.V., $15.75 at Amazon
#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
Sophia Amoruso's story is one for the books, so of course the Nasty Gal founder wrote all about it.
From stealing books and selling them on eBay to starting one of the most successful online clothing boutiques, Amoruso will teach readers how to become a #GIRLBOSS and get things done.
#GIRLBOSS, $13.38 at Amazon
In My Shoes: A Memoir
In My Shoes: A Memoir by Tamara Mellon
Written by the creative mind behind Jimmy Choo, Tamara Mellon outlines her struggle between "financial" and "creative."
From the lows (depression, rehab, etc.) to the success she is now, you'll be inspired after reading Mellon's story.
In My Shoes: A Memoir, $32.80 at Amazon
The Glitter Plan
The Glitter Plan by Pamela Skaist-Levy, Gela Nash-Taylor and Booth Moore
Written by the founders of Juicy Couture, you'll hear the story on how FIDM students became millionaires after starting a business to make the perfect T-shirt with only $200.
Talk about inspirational.
The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned It into a Global Brand, $8.48 at Amazon
Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls. by Leandra Medine
Thanks to Leandra Medine, blogger at Man Repeller, we know you shouldn't have to sacrifice the quirky way you dress to get a man and that's exactly what Medine outlines in her novel.
She shares details of the night she lost her virginity right down to the pair of white tube socks she forgot to take off, proving you don't need to compromise even your most repellent qualities to find your way into that big, white dress.
Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls., $16.69 at Amazon
If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You
If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kelly Cutrone
After seeing her reality TV show a few years back, people may or may not be terrified of Kelly Cutrone. But, that's one reason to listen to her.
This woman has years of experience and isn't afraid to keep going until she gets exactly what she wants, and she'll teach you how to do the same.
If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You, $8.79 at Amazon