Free Fashion Books, Courtesy of The Met

Desperately Seeking Andie
A 40's Fabulous Frock

When I was in college, my roommate and I were very broke. This meant that anything we wanted to do in our free time needed to be either very very cheap, or (preferably) free. One of our favorite pastimes was visiting our local library. In the summer, it was a wonderful place to get out of the sweltering SC heat that our one ancient window A/C unit didn’t stand a chance against.

My favorite sections to pore over were Art and Fashion.

Art and Fashion books are generally very pricey, due to their size and that they contain mostly photographs, which are much more expensive to print than just text. I learned a great deal about fashion and art history while buried in the stacks, and I think that’s made a huge difference in how I clothe myself now vs. before. By learning more about fashion history, I was better able to create my own unique style, rather than just buy what was trendy right there and then.

Open culture is a beautiful thing. 

Imagine how thrilled I was to discover that The Metropolitan Museum of Art has 1,556 publications available to download for free on their site…including an impressive collection of fashion publications.

Here are a just a few from their collection that I can’t wait to peruse:



Koda, Harold, and Andrew Bolton (2005) / Download



Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Bolton, Andrew, with contributions by Tim Blanks and Susannah Frankel (2011) / Download


Christian Dior

Richard Martin and Harold Koda (1996) / Download


American Ingenuity: Sportswear

1930s–1970s by Richard Martin (1998) / Download


Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century

Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton (2006) / Download


Haute Couture

Richard Martin and Harold Koda (1995) / Download

Which titles do you plan on drawing your own fashion inspiration from?

4.6 (91.25%) 48 votes

17 thoughts on “Free Fashion Books, Courtesy of The Met

  1. I agree with all you say about our library! I am so, so spoiled by the library here in Columbia. If I ever move, I will be really lost. I use library services every day. Whether it’s reading a book or watching a DVD, reading an e-book or an e-magazine or using the hoopla app, I LOVE the library! Now I have another avenue of interest that I hadn’t considered! Thank you, Jiillian.

  2. What a great resource! I can imagine using these as inspiration for poetry or for research on period clothing for a historical novel. Thank you!

  3. dayum miss jillian. this post was worth the price of admission alone. wow. thank you for sharing.
    may you be blessed with 4 more pairs of hands, feet and unlimited hours in the day to get all your magical refashions done. oh yeah, and have fun on the bon voyage. :D

  4. I am about to be housebound for yet another entire month for my 4th ankle surgery in a year. I will bless you every day that I enjoy being able to download these publications from the Met. Thanks, Jilly!!!

  5. Librarians everywhere thank you for your vote of enthusiasm! It’s the best game in town. Thanks too for the links. Enjoying the sportswear one – the section on why women’s clothes did not have pockets was fascinating. I just transferred the pdf of the one on Orientalism to my Kindle Fire to read as an ebook. Major eye candy!

  6. ok, I’m not a technical dummy but I don’t see anything that allows us to read them(I tried Chanel and McQueen). I clicked on a book about swords. Then it brought up a blurb and a “more” link. I clicked on that. The next page showed me a “pdf download” link. But that link is not on Chanel or McQueen. All it shows is preview, table of contents, and a link to buy it.

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