Books can make wonderful presents — especially for those who live and breathe fashion (and whose taste in shoes and scarves you may not be totally sure about). But how do you pick a book that's sure to be read and cherished? After all, the girl who owns three Chanel purses may have no interest in a book on the history of Chanel — a volume that offers shopping guidance or visual inspiration may be more to her taste.
When deciding on a book to gift, think first whether the intended recipient is more likely to appreciate a book she can absorb visually and display on a coffee table, or if she's the kind who prefers to read denser non-fiction — biographies and histories, for example. (When in doubt — and if your budget allows — always go for the coffee table book; at the very least, it makes for a nice decoration.) We've picked out 12 books, all published within the last year, to help you find the right one. Want more ideas? Check out last year's gift guide for books.
For the business minded
"Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight from Fashion Designers" by Teri Agins
Upon publication, Teri Agins's 2000 study, "The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever," became one of the most important books on the business of fashion — and her second, "Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight from Fashion Designers," released in October, is even better. Agins, who spent 25 years covering fashion for the Wall Street Journal, is remarkably insightful and well-sourced, showing how celebrities have infiltrated the fashion industry to build — in the case of Tory Burch and Jessica Simpson — multibillion-dollar businesses based on their image rather than their design skills. A must-read for anyone working in the fashion industry, or who aspires to. Available in hardcover ($20.31) and for Kindle ($11.99).
For the Pinterest addict
"Kate Spade New York: Places to Go, People to See" by Kate Spade New York
You don't need to be a Kate Spade fantastic to appreciate the brand's coffee table-worthy tome, filled with glamorous and sometimes exotic vintage fashion and travel photography, as well as several of Kate Spade New York's own campaigns and favorite epigrams. A followup to last year's inspiring "Kate Spade New York: Things We Love," this will appeal to anyone with a love of vintage style and adventure. Available in hardcover ($31.34).
For the fashion history nerd
"Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography" by Meryle Secrest
Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli were arch rivals; but in the books department, Coco Chanel has definitely won out. Those looking for an authoritative biography of the inventive and revolutionary Schiaparelli can now have one, courtesy of former Washington Post journalist and Pulitzer Prize-nominated biographer Meryle Secrest, whose writing and storytelling style are nearly as admirable as her thorough research of the Italian-born designer. Available in hardcover ($25.37) and for Kindle ($15.99).
"Joe Eula: Master of Twentieth-Century Fashion Illustration" by Cathy Horyn
Longtime readers of the New York Times's Styles section no doubt know (if not worship) the name of its former chief fashion critic, Cathy Horyn. Horyn takes a reporter's approach to her biography of Joe Eula, a somewhat mysterious participant in the international fashion scene of the late twentieth century, known primarily for his fashion illustrations and for serving, for a time, as creative director of Halston. One needn't have an interest in fashion illustration to be absorbed by her profile of Eula — the history alone is worth the purchase. Available in hardcover ($53.48) and for Kindle ($17.99).
For the career-focused
"#GirlBoss" by Sophia Amoruso
Have you heard of this little startup called Nasty Gal? Thought so. Founder Sophia Amoruso breaks down how she turned her Ebay vintage clothing business into a massive company, peppering in no-bullshit advice along the way, a combination that makes for incredibly motivational reading. Buy it for your little sister as a kick in the pants or for anyone you know with dreams of taking over the world. Available in paperback ($12.51), hardcover ($16.17) and for Kindle ($10.99). —Eliza Brooke
For those who are serious about shopping and style
"Refinery29: Style Stalking" by Piera Gelardi and Christene Barberich
Those who devour street style blogs and are constantly seeking new ways to style their outfits will appreciate this neat little volume. It's the first from Refinery29 co-founders Piera Gerlardi and Christene Barberich, who can safely be considered authorities on the subject of not only dressing well, but in a way that celebrates their individuals personalities. Unlike most books about getting dressed, this one doesn't encourage readers to max out their credit cards — instead, it explains how certain, seemingly unachievable looks (a stylist's black on black, or an editor's ugly/pretty approach to dressing) can be constructed, largely from pieces already in readers' wardrobes. Available in paperback ($11.99) and for Kindle ($11.39).
"I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, With a Twist," by Betty Halbreich
Not all of us can enjoy a personal shopping appointment with Bergdorf Goodman's Betty Halbreich — the breakout star of the 2013 film "Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's" and the subject of Lena Dunham's forthcoming show — but this, for now, is the next best thing. The book is largely a memoir of an original and fascinating life, from a lonely Chicago childhood to a tumultuous and ultimately rewarding New York career, peppered with advice about living and dressing well throughout. Available in paperback ($13.30), hardcover ($18.58) and for Kindle ($11.99).
For the woman as particular about interiors as her clothes
"Valentino: At the Emperor's Table" by Valentino Garvani and Andre Leon Talley
Valentino — with his many houses, his yacht, his staff, his tables decked with tableware gathered from across the globe via Christie's — doesn't live like you and me. But one can dream, via this coffee table-destined volume of photographs of Valentino's life and things, shot by Oberto Gili and accompanied by a lyrical foreword from former Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley. Available in hardcover ($102.49).
"Tory Burch: In Color" by Tory Burch
This book is another one destined for the coffee table, and for those of you looking for something a bit more affordable, you'll be glad to know it costs about a third of Valentino's tome. As the title suggests, this book is about Tory Burch, her inspirations (from artists and interior designers to travel destinations) and her love affair with color. Those looking for more insight into Burch's personal life will find that here, too. Available in hardcover ($36.52).