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The Anatomy of Fashion by Colin McDowell

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About the book

Fashion is about the body. The first book to reflect this truism, The Anatomy of Fashion is the ultimate guide to how we dress, why we look the way we do and how this has changed over time. One of the world's leading fashion commentators, Colin McDowell, breaks fashion down into specific parts of the body, examining in detail how each has been clothed. He uses this novel arrangement to map out the different considerations that influenced clothes in the past and still do so today. In a series of essays on major themes and looks in fashion, McDowell also explores how the separate elements of fashion fit together, showing how anatomical and historical influences have interacted to shape the way we dress. This unique approach enables McDowell to paint a broad and accessible picture of the forces at work in the creation and development not just of clothing, but of all aspects of appearance.

  • Format: Hardback
  • Size: 305 x 238 mm (12 x 9 3/8 in)
  • Pages: 358 pp
  • Illustrations: 450 illustrations
  • ISBN: 9780714849478

About the author

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

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