The Style Shelf

Quench Fashion reviews the best fashion bibles Amazon has to offer from 2003 to 2015, for all your needs. 


For inspiration: IT


While IT by Alexa Chung cannot be classified as an autobiography, it takes on a fun and modern form of such. Within the pretty pink cover of this book lies collections of images and writings of the ‘It’ girl who has taken the British social and media industry by storm. Chung provides an insight into her eccentric flair that has endured throughout her career as a model, actor, fashion icon and a TV and radio personality.

Throughout the book Chung gives snippets of her childhood, heartbreak, instructions on how to take the perfect ‘selfie’, and shares fun snaps from many nights out as an ‘It’ girl. It will come as no surprise that the girl who has had a Mulberry handbag named after her loves all things fashion and gives style tips to her readers, such as how to get dressed in the morning and her favorite looks. Additionally, Chung includes doodles and her personal style inspirations ranging from the spice girls to her grandfather. With its jumble of fashion, life tips and exclusive and intimate pictures from one of Britain’s most stylish personalities, this charmingly quirky book is an ideal dose of inspiration.

– Isabella Nicolson


For an insight into the industry – Grace: A Memoir


Former Creative Director. Fashion icon. Model. Anna Wintour’s right hand woman. Grace documents Grace Coddington’s extraordinary journey from a small Welsh village to become one of the most influential people in an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Revered within the fashion world as “the woman who made fashion art”, Coddington’s experience and impact is unparalleled, making Grace a must for anybody wishing to enter this illustrious industry.

This collection of memoirs provides readers with an unprecedented insight into the fashion industry. Grace discusses Coddington’s personal view of her unexpected career as a model, international success and the car crash which ended it all. Intriguingly, Grace explores life as the internationally renowned Creative Director of American Vogue, including her tenure at the British edition of the fashion bible, through much wit and inspiring messages to any aspirational fashion journalist or photographer. Although her often volatile yet faithful relationship with Editor in Chief of American Vogue, Anna Wintour, is perhaps the most interesting feature of Coddington’s memoirs.

Through a pulls-no-punches approach, Grace delivers a resilient, heartfelt and soul-filled view of an industry which outsiders largely perceive to be egotistical and soulless. Coddington’s clear infatuation and affection towards fashion, and in particular, Vogue, shines through on each page, despite the personal heartbreaks which she discusses. As Grace herself once put it – “Three rules of success in fashion: Perseverance, dream a bit and be passionate about it.

-Jonny Thompson


For the gentlemen – Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion


In this book, Alan Flusser provides guidelines and inspiration to male fashion victims and discusses the issue of why there are less well-dressed men today than ever before. He puts his focus on men themselves and teaches them how to work with what they have and how to make fashion trends work for individuals instead of blindly following them. Offering detailed advice on fits and body shapes, Flusser’s wisdom especially is handy and helpful with student life, teaching us the art of casual and work wear. The abundance of old Hollywood photographs reiterates the legacy of the industry’s icons, while also proving to be a great source of inspiration for fashion newbies.

Although many would argue the tips suggested are too bold to take into a work environment and only suitable to the likes of politicians and corporate leaders, it’s nevertheless great preparation for any self-respecting future lawyer or businessman. Dressing the Man is definitely one of the best sources of inspiration and information on men’s style and is a must read for anyone looking to portray a modern take of the gentleman.

Stephany Damyanova


For the coffee table – The Sartorialist: Closer


Scott Schuman’s second book is in many ways everything you’d expect it be – a compilation of street style photos from all around the world, carefully curated with the occasional short comments alongside. Although released with both a male and a female cover, the contents of the book remain the same. It is a very diverse book that provides people with an insight to street style and fashion statements from different corners of the world. His blog, the Sartorialist, entertains a wide audience and if you’re part of it, it would be no surprise if this book tops your list of things to-read due to the overlapping of content and design.

The Sartorialist: Closer is the perfect style inspiration for lightening up Cardiff’s gloomy rainy days and an ideal coffee table flick. Just browse through the wonderful pages of high quality street style photographs and find your pick for tomorrow’s outfit. Agreed, there’s little diversity shown in body image in both of Schuman’s books but readers can easily check that box by visiting his blog, which compensates for the lack of variety in print. A personal favourite, this book oozes with brilliant references for artwork and drawing clothes, igniting my inner amateur fashion illustrator with every page flicked.

Stephany Damyanova


For the beauty addict – Bobbi Brown: Pretty Powerful


Pretty Powerful is yet another brainchild of world-famous make-up artist Bobbi Brown. Her bestselling book is an entertaining read for both the beauty enthusiast and the total beginner as she reveals her best beauty tips and provides step-by-step application techniques, all of which are accompanied by gorgeous illustrative pictures. The book dedicates itself to a variety of make-up styles, from ‘Pretty Natural’ to ‘Pretty Bold’, ideal for the university student whose social calendar demands make-up looks for all occasions, from messy initiations to the glamorous summer ball.

This is without mentioning Brown’s much appreciated advice on concealer application; that little magic stick that we all rely on after a heavy night and a 9am lecture! However, Pretty Powerful is more than just a beauty book. Brown’s intention this time is just as much to guide aspiring make-up artists as it is to encourage self-confidence and self-love. Unlike her previous titles, she simultaneously celebrates girl power and the beauty of women, both from within and the exterior. Consisting of inspiring personal tales from the likes of Alexa Ray Joel and Gabourey Sidibe, Pretty Powerful may not offer revolutionary advice, but it does give its readers a well-deserved confidence-boost.

– Lauren Griffin


For the vintage lover – Decades: A Century in Fashion


Decades by Cameron Silver is your best shot into a glance at the industry’s past. Taking the readers through the decades of the last century, the book carefully examines the trends and styles that were prominent in different points of time. A great read for anyone interested in design and styling, Decades takes a look at trend setters, stars and designers and how they influenced the times they lived in. It’s very much a book about glamour and femininity, about the beauty of the female body and how it has inspired icons and fashion pioneers in their creations through the ages.

Throw away your preconceived assumptions of Hepburn being the sole female icon back in the day and prepare to have your fashion stereotypes challenged, as Silver tells the stories of international designers from the west to the east and beyond. Although it’s a book that’s all about the vintage era, don’t be surprised to find it presented in a contemporary format with humor in the most unexpected places. Overall Decades is a go-to for fashion history if you’re one to be aesthetically pleased, however do keep in mind that there is much content lacking on men’s designs and androgynous labels.

Stephany Damyanova