The Anatomy of Fashion: Why We Dress the Way We DoColin McDowell

Price AUD$110.00 Price CAD$100.00 Price £59.95 Price T100.00 Price USD$100.00

Why do we dress the way we do? Why has fashion changed and evolved over the centuries? How did the 3-piece suit come about? Why have hemlines risen and fallen over time?  In The Anatomy of Fashion, respected fashion commentator Colin McDowell goes beyond standard fashion histories and narrative surveys to answer these questions and many more.  

Uniquely structured, taking the reader through fashion and dress from head to toe - the whole body is anatomized into sections including ‘The Body Unclothed’(Skin and Body Adornment, Materials and Texture, and Colour and Pattern), ‘The Body Anatomized’(‘Head to Waist’and ‘Hips to Feet’), and ‘The Body Clothed’(Looks and Themes in Dress). Visually rich, with over 500 photographs, illustrations, paintings and film stills, the book includes work by designers and labels such as Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Versace, Carhartt, Diesel and more. 

The book's dynamic structure and layout are equally suited for browsing and for serious reference, but The Anatomy of Fashion is not simply a picture book. It is a sourcebook by one of the world's leading fashion scholars that seeks nothing less than a thorough analysis of the roots of every aspect of fashion today.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Size: 305 × 238 mm (12 × 9 3/8 in)
  • Pages: 358 pp
  • Illustrations: 600 illustrations
  • ISBN: 9780714849478

Colin McDowell is a fashion historian and a senior fashion writer for The Sunday Times. He is the author of many books, including Literary Companion to Fashion (1995), Galliano (1997) and Phaidon's Fashion Today (2000).

"For all the hullabaloo surrounding street style, one often forgets that clothes are first and foremost a means of protecting the body. Colin McDowell is placing new emphasis on this fact, presenting a history of fashion as it relates to human anatomy."—

"The Anatomy of Fashion is such an innovative and intelligent way to narrate and explore fashion. Colin McDowell's mind has the clarity to do this to perfection."—Manolo Blahnik

"Colin McDowell [...] the senior statesman of the fashion press [...] breaks fashion history down neatly by examining clothing as it relates to specific body parts. That is, the head, hips, torso, arms, genitals and so on... In Mr. McDowell's book, you will discover details like the difference between bosom shapes of Edwardian matrons and flappers, the evolution of cotton and synthetic textiles, the appeal of bondage wear and even the derivation of corduroy measurements."—The New York Times

"Chic reading material... [a] stylish [...] fashion lesson..."—Look

"Filled with captivating images and noteworthy facts... Accompanying the fascinating images is McDowell's entertaining, witty and knowledgeable commentary, weaving through the centuries with his unique narration... Every angle, ground breaking advertising campaign and historical turning point is collected and considered, their relation to today's fashions captivatingly explained... All the style answers you'll ever need have been carefully considered and collected, so swot up and impress."—Inside Out, Top Shop Blog

"Remind[s] us that the history and implications of fashion are more complicated than we might have supposed, and that our obsession with shirts and skirts is not necessarily a shallow or a new one... Lavishly and handsomely illustrated... The Anatomy of Fashion is [...] a lot of fun... Everywhere [there] are passages that beg to be read out loud to entertain one’s friends."—Prospect