The 5 Best New Books for Holiday Style

Photo: Erika Linder, “On the LA Make,” Arena Homme +, 2014. Photograph by Alice Hawkins. Alice Hawkins. Erika Linder, Next Management. From Androgyne: Fashion and Gender by Patrick Mauriès (Thames & Hudson)

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn,” Oscar Wilde opined. Style is a form of power and the mastery of it will take you far. It is more than mere clothing and accessories: it is a definitive statement of self that telegraphs who you are and how you see yourself before you have a chance to open your mouth. As most communication is non-verbal, you can allow your appearance to speak for you, to announce your presence, and to attract or repel.

Also: The 7 Most Stylish Artists

With holiday season in full swing, you might find yourself out and about more often than not, whether at a family function, the office party, or something special on New Year’s Eve. With all these comings and goings as the year wraps up, you may feel the urge to treat yourself, or simply want to refresh your look. Crave has gathered a selection of the best new books for holiday style, going from the straight classics to something a little wild.

Photo by Carlo Miari Fulcis for Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers: Two Hundred Years of American Style

Since 1818, Brooks Brothers, America’s oldest clothier, has established itself as an institution all its own. For generations, a trip to Brooks Brothers has been a rite of passage for boys across the United States, signaling their transition into adulthood.

Now, on the cusp of its 200th birthday, Kate Betts has edited Brooks Brothers: Two Hundred Years of American Style (Rizzoli New York) a visual celebration of the famed American menswear house, which defines classic American style. The book takes a look at the signature heritage pieces, such as the original polo button-down oxford, gray flannel suit, and Rep ties to the camel overcoat. Consider this a must-have volume for anyone who wants to look the part – yet stand out from the crowd.

Because, truly, Brooks goes with everything: it’s simply a matter of how you choose to wear it that will make you distinct. Consider the countless icons who have taken Brooks Brothers and made it their own, including Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, David Hockney, Miles Davis, Andy Warhol – and Kermit the Frog. Whether you are more Steve McQueen or Stephen Colbert, Brooks never fails.

Sports and Leisure

Vintage Menswear: A Collection from the Vintage Showroom

Established in 2007, The Vintage Showroom, London, began as a small studio has grown into a hybrid museum and retail space open for viewing by appointment only. Established by Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett, the company boats an incredible archive of classic garments that it hires out and sometimes sells to designers at the most prestigious fashion houses.

The Vintage Show Room is where those in the know go — and now you can too with Vintage Menswear: A Collection from the Vintage Showroom (Laurence King), a gorgeous source book showcasing 150 artifacts that will most assuredly inspire you. Organized into sections on Sports & Leisure, Military, and Work Wear, the book presents classic garments from the history of menswear such as a 1940s World War II Royal Air Force pilot’s suit and accoutrements, handmade 1920s driving gloves, and a 1950s cable-knit sports sweater from Harrods, among other treasures.

These items that reflect real lives of real people–with holes and patches that tell a story about the lives they’ve lead, the places they have been, and the people they have influenced. Every page is features a gem, a piece so iconic that you realize menswear is at its best when form follows function.

Photo by Lyle Robin

The Italian Gentleman: The Master Tailors of Italian Men’s Fashion

Italian style is a thing of beauty and absolute cool, the perfect balance between passion and elegance that has come to captivate the world. It perfectly blends a deep feeling of romance with a pride in craftsmanship, a sensibility for the highest of arts in every aspect of life.

Whereas other nations treat menswear with extreme restraint or go too far in the other direction by rebelling against conformity, the Italians have made menswear something entirely unique, bringing a jaunty flair to the classic suit. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in The Italian Gentleman: The Master Tailors of Italian Men’s Fashion (Rizzoli New York), the lavish illustrated book that pairs the insights of Hugo Jacomet with the photographs of Lyle Robin.

The Italian Gentleman spotlights more than 50 iconic Italian menswear houses, fabric mills, shirting, neckwear, accessories, shoemaking, and a special section on the history of Pitti Uomo, the trade fair at the epicenter of Italian menswear. From such fabled names as Brioni and Berluti to highly sought-after global brands like Zegna and Loro Piana, it is all here for those who are looking to add a little sprezzatura to their daily lives.

English, mid-1960s. Photo from the collection of Roger K. Burton

Rebel Threads: Clothing of the Bad, Beautiful & Misunderstood

“You heard it on the radio, you seen it on the TV!” We get a great deal of sartorial inspiration from entertainment and the media as it portrays not a look but a personality that is driven to fulfill their destiny on the world stage. So much of what captures our attention isn’t just the character but the way they present themselves, particularly the rebels who defy social strictures in search of freedom and truth. From the time Marlon Brando sauntered across the silver screen in black leather and blue denim with a jaunty cap perched on his head in The Wild One the American public has been captivated by rebels with — or without — a cause.

You can relive all those classic looks with Rebel Threads: Clothing of the Bad, Beautiful & Misunderstood (Laurence King), the incredible new book that spotlights more than 1,300 samples of rare and rebellious vintage clothing spanning 1940 to 1980, Each of the looks has been drawn from the private collection of author Roger K. Burton, costume designer and stylist who has been providing classic street looks for TV and film for decades, did the costumes for Quadrophenia and Chariots of Fire, and dressed David Bowie and the Rolling Stones.

Burton’s collection, which exceeds 20,000 items, features iconic styles from the rebels of yore – all the better to bring out the inner rebel in you. From Hep Cats, Teddy Boys, Bikers, and Beatniks to Mods, Dandies, Hippies, and Punks — the gang’s all here. Rebel Threads will not only bring back great memories, but it will remind you how to stay on the cutting edge.

Little “Coco” Jordan, i-D, 2009. Photograph by Tim Walker. Tim Walker. Little “Coco” Jordan.

Androgyne: Fashion + Gender

We are living in a revolutionary time when gender has returned to the fore of public consciousness. The conversation around trans identity has expanded to include nonconforming identities such Intersex and nonbinary. But to be honest, this really isn’t anything new. A look through history across time and cultures reveals that gender has always been an extremely flexible space, one that allows for any number of permutations of the expression of self, be it through art, fashion, and literature.

Androgyne: Fashion and Gender by Patrick Mauriès (Thames & Hudson) goes beyond the binary, to offer the best high fashion looks over the past 120 years, while also included references to work of art from the Renaissance as well as antiquity. Here, the full expression of gender finds its way from Plato to our present time, showing how it fuses various aspects of mythology, religion, mysticism, alchemy, and biology with sociology, literature, the visual arts – and style.

One of the great joys of Androgyne is how incredible everyone looks. They have achieved the heights of chic, offering evidence of just how fluid gender has always been, and reminding us that there truly are no norms, simply momentary agreements that are easily undone by the next generation. Revolution, in its most elemental sense, is when the circle spins around 360 degrees. Androgyne reminds us of the power of style and the freedom it brings to reinvent ourselves with incredible looks that are neither male nor female, but both. It’s like the ghost of David Bowie is smiling down upon us.

Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.