Essential Reading for Fashion Majors and Designers

To become an elite fashion designer in the highly competitive fashion industry, student designers need to rely on more than just raw talent and creative brilliance.

Students who are embarking on their education and career in fashion can build upon sketching skills and drawing concepts by studying the following textbooks:

“Fashion Design Essentials: 100 Principles of Fashion Design” by Jay Calderin

Students applying to top fashion design schools can refer to the Fashion Design Essentials to prep for their career in fashion. Jay Calderin’s “Fashion Design Essentials: 100 Principles of Fashion Design” is an excellent resource for inspiration and indispensable information. Calderin, a fashion industry expert at Boston’s School of Fashion Design, offers a plethora of content for young, talented designers who are just starting out.’s book review from Renee Mallett recommends this book as a valuable resource for timeless fashion advice and images that professionals can even use as a guide during any stage in their career.

Designers can expect the book to offer the following:

  • Easy to understand concepts with beautiful imagery
  • Photos of historic, iconic fashions
  • Tips for great fashion using basic wardrobe staples
  • Insight for creating a fashion identity and styling prowess
  • Fashion theories acquired by an esteemed expert whose designs have been embraced by Vogue and Elle magazines

“Fashion Design: Process, Innovation and Practice (2nd Edition)” by Kathryn McKelvey and Janine Munslow

Fashion experts Kathryn McKelvey and Janine Munslow at Northumbria University offer “Fashion Design: Process, Innovation and Practice” as an analytical textbook that focuses on logical processes for achieving commercial success. A student embarking in the competitive world of fashion design will learn about design projects, portfolios and problem-solving approaches.

Students can strive to meet market needs through exercises and learning about:

  • Versatility development and experimentation
  • Computer-aided design
  • Employment opportunities

Kathryn McKelvey, a Northumbrian University Reader, illustrator and designer, has professional experience in drawing and visual communication as well as fashion research and industry forecasting. Janine Munslow runs design label partnership Guerilla Farm with international wholesale and fashion outlets.

“9 Heads: A Guide to Drawing Fashion (3rd Edition)” by Nancy Riegelman

“9 Heads” refines the sketching skills of a novice designer by offering developed thinking and viewpoints. The textbook focuses on black and white drawings and outlines the expectations of an end product and how to achieve design excellence. Nancy Riegelman has taught drawing at top institutions, including the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), and she’s also head of the Art Center College’s new fashion and fashion illustration department. With her brilliant talent and extensive years of experience, Riegelman offers fashion newcomers a new style of finished drawing. Coincided with her “Colors for Modern Fashion,” Riegelman’s key points include more rendered garment fabrics and drawing elements in modern fashion.

The revised textbook also offers information for:

  • Men’s and children’s fashions
  • Fabric shows and identification
  • Hair, face and hand drawings
  • Modern garment flats and croquis
  • Technical and apparel design reviewers recommend “9 Heads” for its easy-to-understand instructions, comprehensiveness and inspirational ideas.

“The instructions and the ‘9 heads’ theory (nine heads make up the human body) are very simple and easy to understand. I love that she uses the ‘box’ method to help you draw faces. I have never been an artist and this book helped me to draw some fabulous fashion sketches.”

“This book is great because it helps you understand how to draw details like buttons, zippers and ruffles. My students find inspiration for new ideas here. The best part of the book is all the flats. I also like how comprehensive the book is. It covers children’s, men’s and women’s wear.”

“Colors for Modern Fashion (CFMF)” by Nancy Riegelman

Riegelman’s “CFMF” fosters innovative ideas with expert skills and techniques. The textbook focuses on drawing methods using colored markers, photo sequences and textural explanations. “CFMF” serves as a modern garment drawing guide that incorporates technique applications and photos.

Students can also rely on “CFMF” for:

  • Covering color and design theory
  • Illustrating concepts with fashion examples
  • Explaining how a wide range of fabrics are used in modern design
  • Inspiring future fashion designers of all skill sets and abilities customer reviewers and fans of Riegelman describe the book as great and very helpful.

“The illustrations are marvelous. The techniques she discusses are easy to understand and use…This is definitely a must have for all illustrators and for people who love to draw.”

“Words cannot describe the amount of inspiration and resourceful information that ‘Colors of Modern Fashion’ holds…Apparently, the rest of the world has caught on [to] this great book because I have seen it throughout my travels in London, Paris, New York, and LA.”

“Fashion Sketchbook (6th Edition)” by Bina Abling

Bina Abling, a previous instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design, offers “Fashion Sketchbook” for emerging design students. Her sketchbook unveils the fashion drawing process with colorful images and updated instructional text. She easily conveys ideas using simple drawing lessons and easy-to-follow directions.

“Fashion Sketchbook’s” book description tells readers to expect the following subject matters in detail:

  • Men, women and children drawings
  • Figure poses
  • Accessory sketches and garment details
  • Flats and specs preparation
  • Lessons on diverse drawing skills
  • Showroom and runway photos from Women’s Wear Daily

Drawing instructors and fashion lovers refer to “Fashion Sketchbook” as “the ONLY book you will ever need as a designer. This is the Bible of fashion illustration.”

“This is the authority on illustrating for fashion. Abling’s attention to detail and artistic ability make her a perfect tutor on the topic, and every explanation is clear.”

“This is an excellent and comprehensive book for all fashion design students who wish to learn the art of fashion illustration or for anyone who desires to perfect their skills.”

“Fashion Design Course: Principles, Practice, and Techniques: The Practical Guide for Aspiring Fashion Designers” by Steven Faerm

BFA Director of Fashion Design at Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City, Steven Faerm invites the next generation of professional fashion designers into the glamorous fashion design industry with his “Fashion Design Course.” Faerm introduces the content of his book with design principles, a look at the fashion industry’s history and the industry’s most influential designers.

Through tutorials, exercises and more than 450 color illustrations, Faerm offers step-by-step design instruction for:

  • Sportswear
  • Tailored business garments
  • Denim
  • Active wear
  • Cocktail and evening wear
  • Children’s and men’s clothing
  • Accessories

Aspiring fashion designers will also gain expert insight on how to create a portfolio and collection, including advice from industry leaders. customers who have purchased “Fashion Design Course” highly rate the textbook with the following reviews:

“If you read fashion magazines then you are going to enjoy this book tremendously. FULL COLOR, straight to the point, concise, yet powerful information. It is a book that gives you inspiration and shows you how to think and plan like a fashion designer.”

“As an aspiring designer who’s still in school, I found this book to be a comprehensive book on the study of fashion design. The author’s prolific use of illustrations and photos to visually depict the concepts — and they’re from students! — is very helpful in making sure the reader understands what the author’s talking about.”

1 comment

  1. Hello readers!
    Myself Rajeev, I found this blog quite interesting and informative. This blog helped me a lot to understand essential reading for fashion majors and designers. Keep updating blogs like this in future.

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