100 books like Seven Sisters Style

By Rebecca C. Tuite,

Here are 100 books that Seven Sisters Style fans have personally recommended if you like Seven Sisters Style. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from Their Nineteenth Century Beginnings to the 1930s

Nancy Woloch Author Of The Insider: A Life of Virginia C. Gildersleeve

From my list on women’s colleges and their histories.

Who am I?

As a teacher of US women’s history and educational history, I have long been interested in women’s colleges—in their faculties, administrators, students, alumnae, goals, and achievements. Most recently, as the biographer of a woman educator (a dean of Barnard College in the early 20th century), I became more deeply involved with the literature on single-sex schools. Major books focus on the older women’s colleges, the “Seven Sisters,” but devote attention to other colleges as well. I am impressed with the talents of historians, with their skill at asking questions of their subjects, with the intensity of mission at the women’s schools, and with changing styles of campus culture.

Nancy's book list on women’s colleges and their histories

Nancy Woloch Why did Nancy love this book?

Horowitz explores the growth and impact of the “Seven Sisters” colleges (Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, Wellesley), founded in the late 19th century, and three smaller women’s colleges begun after 1920. Laden with insight, the book shows how these ambitious schools won prominence and how campus architecture supported their lofty goals. A classic in the history of higher education and invaluable.

By Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alma Mater as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An examination of the founding and development of the Seven Sisters colleges--Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Wellesley, Smith, Radcliffe, Bryn Mawr, and Barnard--Alma Mater focuses on the ideas behind their establishment and the colleges' architectural, academic, and social histories, as well as those of their twentieth-century successors--Sarah Lawrence, Bennington, and Scripps.


Book cover of Gender and Higher Education in the Progressive Era

Nancy Woloch Author Of The Insider: A Life of Virginia C. Gildersleeve

From my list on women’s colleges and their histories.

Who am I?

As a teacher of US women’s history and educational history, I have long been interested in women’s colleges—in their faculties, administrators, students, alumnae, goals, and achievements. Most recently, as the biographer of a woman educator (a dean of Barnard College in the early 20th century), I became more deeply involved with the literature on single-sex schools. Major books focus on the older women’s colleges, the “Seven Sisters,” but devote attention to other colleges as well. I am impressed with the talents of historians, with their skill at asking questions of their subjects, with the intensity of mission at the women’s schools, and with changing styles of campus culture.

Nancy's book list on women’s colleges and their histories

Nancy Woloch Why did Nancy love this book?

Gordon looks at the second generation of women to attend college, 1890-1920, with a spotlight on two large universities (University of California, Berkeley and the University of Chicago), one elite women’s college (Vassar) and two smaller southern colleges for women, Agnes Scott, near Atlanta, and Sophie Newcomb, affiliated with Tulane. The book’s comparative focus enables the reader to assess different types of institutions and to contrast women’s experiences in several academic settings, each with its own history and complexities.

By Lynn D. Gordon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gender and Higher Education in the Progressive Era as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Studying the second generation of women to attend college, this book examines the relationship between gender, higher education, and American society from 1890 to 1920. Gordon draws on college yearbooks, literary magazines and newspapers to analyze the dynamics of campus life.


Book cover of In Adamless Eden: The Community of Women Faculty at Wellesley

Nancy Woloch Author Of The Insider: A Life of Virginia C. Gildersleeve

From my list on women’s colleges and their histories.

Who am I?

As a teacher of US women’s history and educational history, I have long been interested in women’s colleges—in their faculties, administrators, students, alumnae, goals, and achievements. Most recently, as the biographer of a woman educator (a dean of Barnard College in the early 20th century), I became more deeply involved with the literature on single-sex schools. Major books focus on the older women’s colleges, the “Seven Sisters,” but devote attention to other colleges as well. I am impressed with the talents of historians, with their skill at asking questions of their subjects, with the intensity of mission at the women’s schools, and with changing styles of campus culture.

Nancy's book list on women’s colleges and their histories

Nancy Woloch Why did Nancy love this book?

In its early decades, from the 1880s to the 1930s, Wellesley College boasted not merely a woman president but—alone among the “Seven Sisters”—an exclusively female faculty. Palmieri examines the impact of an all-woman community on the college’s students, professors, traditions, and development. A model exploration of campus culture, highly original, and a fascinating read.

By Patricia Ann Palmieri,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Adamless Eden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wellesley College was unique in its commitment to an exclusively female faculty, and has educated women such as Katharine Lee Bates and Hillary Clinton. This book is a narrative history of the first generation of Wellesley professors.


Book cover of Daring to Educate: The Legacy of the Early Spelman College Presidents

Nancy Woloch Author Of The Insider: A Life of Virginia C. Gildersleeve

From my list on women’s colleges and their histories.

Who am I?

As a teacher of US women’s history and educational history, I have long been interested in women’s colleges—in their faculties, administrators, students, alumnae, goals, and achievements. Most recently, as the biographer of a woman educator (a dean of Barnard College in the early 20th century), I became more deeply involved with the literature on single-sex schools. Major books focus on the older women’s colleges, the “Seven Sisters,” but devote attention to other colleges as well. I am impressed with the talents of historians, with their skill at asking questions of their subjects, with the intensity of mission at the women’s schools, and with changing styles of campus culture.

Nancy's book list on women’s colleges and their histories

Nancy Woloch Why did Nancy love this book?

Recent concern with intersectionality (instances where categories of race and gender overlap) makes research into Black women’s colleges vital. Founded in 1881 as a Baptist female seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, Spelman College became a leading women’s liberal arts college. The book tracks the impact of four college presidents from the outset to the 1950s. The authors show how the formal academic curriculum, extra-curriculum (college-sponsored activities), and hidden curriculum (informal and even inadvertent influences) instilled an imperative to excel.

By Yolanda L. Watson, Sheila T. Gregory,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daring to Educate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Presents the history of Spelman's foundation through the tenure of its fourth president, Florence M. Read, in1953. The story is brought up to date by the contributions of Spelman's current president, Beverly Daniel Tatum, and by Johnnetta B. Cole.

The book chronicles how the vision each of these women presidents, and their response to changing social forces, both profoundly shaped Spelman's curriculum and influenced the lives and minds of thousands of young Black women.


Book cover of Sex and Suits: The Evolution of Modern Dress

Richard Thompson Ford Author Of Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History

From my list on how fashion shaped our history.

Who am I?

I’m a law professor and the son of a very well-dressed man. My father was a university Dean, a community organizer, a Presbyterian minister, and a social worker. But he also trained as a tailor and knew clothing—both how it is (or should be) constructed and also how it communicates. I became interested in the importance of clothing because of his influence. Then, in law, I noticed a lot of disputes that involved clothing: high school dress codes, workplace dress codes, dress codes used on public transportation. I wanted bring these two together to give a better idea of why we still fight and struggle over clothing.

Richard's book list on how fashion shaped our history

Richard Thompson Ford Why did Richard love this book?

I’ve long felt more powerful, confident, and chic wearing a well-cut suit. But why? Sex and Suits expressed and explained my own vague intuitions about the power of significance of clothing. Hollander explains that the suit is perhaps the most ubiquitous symbol of modernity. Discussing the evolution of fashion—particularly men’s fashion—she shows how the suit is both a practical, streamlined, and unassuming garment and the ultimate status symbol.

By Anne Hollander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sex and Suits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since the dawn of western fashion in the Middle Ages, women's dress has never stopped evolving, yet menswear has seen far fewer style revolutions. At the centre of the male wardrobe is the suit: relatively unchanged since the 17th century, its cut and cloth suggest athleticism, seriousness, sexuality and strength - qualities which contrasted with the perceived superficiality and frivolity of female dress, and eventually led to the adoption of the suit into the female wardrobe where it remains to this day.

In Sex and Suits brilliant essayist and art critic Anne Hollander charts the development of men's and women's…


Book cover of Dress Code: Unlocking Fashion from the New Look to Millennial Pink

Alyssa Hardy Author Of Worn Out: How Our Clothes Cover Up Fashion's Sins

From my list on style.

Who am I?

Fashion has been the love of my life since I was a little kid pouring over magazines and watching shows on fashion TV in the middle of the night. But I’ve always known fashion is not about clothing, its about feeling and it’s about people. That’s why I love to read the stories about people who work in fashion, who have been impacted by fashion and those who love it just as much as I do. 

Alyssa's book list on style

Alyssa Hardy Why did Alyssa love this book?

In Dress Code, fashion director Veronique Hyland makes the connection between clothing and our culture.

She argues that fashion is an integral part of all of our lives and explains the ways that it means so much more than the outfit hanging in our closets. The essays are great at helping the reader contextualize clothing in a world where social media and politics, inform the way we shop and style ourselves. 

By Veronique Hyland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dress Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New Yorker Magazine Best Book of 2022 * An Esquire Best Nonfiction Book of 2022 * A Town & Country Must-Read Book of 2022 * A Fashionista Summer Read

"Smart, funny, and impressively thorough."-The Cut

In the spirit of works by Jia Tolentino and Anne Helen Peterson, a smart and incisive essay collection centered on the fashion industry-its history, its importance, why we wear what we wear, and why it matters-from Elle Magazine's fashion features director.

Why does fashion hold so much power over us? Most of us care about how we dress and how we present ourselves. Style…


Book cover of Worn: A People's History of Clothing

Clare Hunter Author Of Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle

From my list on needlework that will surprise and move you.

Who am I?

I have sewn since I was a child, taught by my mother to keep me out of mischief. From having the best-dressed dolls in the neighbourhood I graduated to making my own, sometimes outlandish, forms of fashion and then became a banner maker and community textile artist. Sewing is in my DNA and I love the tactile, rhythmic soothe of it. But I have long been curious about how, in the many books are published about needlework, very few ever mention why people sew. This is what fascinates me, the stories of sewing, because it is through its purpose that we discover the spirit that lies within it. 

Clare's book list on needlework that will surprise and move you

Clare Hunter Why did Clare love this book?

This is a brilliantly researched book which allowed me to accompany Sofi Thanhauser as she travelled across continents to unearth the origin and the fate of fabric production.  It made me realise the terrible damage done to our environment and to communities through colonialisation, exploitation, industrialisation, and our throw-away economy. Tracking how craft is being replaced with slave labour, how traditions are being eroded, and local economies destroyed in the pursuit of cheaper and greater textile production, Worn is not a comfortable read, but it is, for me, a reminder of the human cost involved in most of what I wear. 

By Sofi Thanhauser,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Worn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sweeping and captivatingly told history of clothing and the stuff it is made of—an unparalleled deep-dive into how everyday garments have transformed our lives, our societies, and our planet.

“We learn that, if we were a bit more curious about our clothes, they would offer us rich, interesting and often surprising insights into human history...a deep and sustained inquiry into the origins of what we wear, and what we have worn for the past 500 years."
—The Washington Post

In this panoramic social history, Sofi Thanhauser brilliantly tells five stories—Linen, Cotton, Silk, Synthetics, Wool—about the clothes we wear and…


Book cover of Sexing La Mode: Gender, Fashion and Commercial Culture in Old Regime France

Christine Adams Author Of The Creation of the French Royal Mistress: From Agnès Sorel to Madame Du Barry

From my list on the beauty and the politics of fashion.

Who am I?

As a child (and budding feminist), I inhaled historical fiction about queens and other formidable women. This led to my scholarly interest in female power and authority. Aristocratic women had meaningful political influence in Old Regime France through family networks and proximity to power. However, with the French Revolution of 1789, women’s exclusion from political power (and the vote) was made explicit. This led me to examine the tools women had to accumulate political and social capital, including beauty and the control of fashion. We need to take the intersection of beauty, fashion, and politics seriously to understand the operation of power in both history and the modern world. The books I chose privilege my own interest in eighteenth-century France, but have a broader significance. And they are all really fun to read!

Christine's book list on the beauty and the politics of fashion

Christine Adams Why did Christine love this book?

A major divergence in the nature of elite men's and women’s clothing styles took place in the eighteenth century that symbolized a new understanding of both femininity and French national identity. The fancy dress men wore at court transformed into the sober black suit of the male professional, while women’s clothing became increasingly ornate, fussy, and “feminine” in the modern understanding of the term. Jones links fashion and gender systems to social, cultural, and economic practices—including the rise of consumer culture—and demonstrates why the study of fashion and sexuality are far from frivolous.

By Jennifer M. Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sexing La Mode as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The connection between fashion, femininity, frivolity and Frenchness has become a cliche. Yet, relegating fashion to the realm of frivolity and femininity is a distinctly modern belief that developed along with the urban culture of the Enlightenment. In eighteenth-century France, a commercial culture filled with shop girls, fashion magazines and window displays began to supplant a court-based fashion culture based on rank and distinction, stimulating debates over the proper relationship between women and commercial culture, public and private spheres, and morality and taste. Mary Wollstonecraft was one of those particularly critical of this 'vulgar' obsession with 'tawdry finery', declaring it…


Book cover of How to Read a Dress: A Guide to Changing Fashion from the 16th to the 20th Century

Cora Harrington Author Of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie

From my list on the history of fashion.

Who am I?

Clothing is one of the most important aspects of our humanity, of the things which make us who we are. We use fashion to identify allies and enemies. To express our interests, politics, and belief systems. To make a statement about who we are to the outside world. To show our identity or ethnicity. Or to indicate our affiliation with certain groups. Fashion is everywhere, but compared to other disciplines, is very rarely talked about. Though I'm a lingerie expert, fashion in its totality interests me. I’m excited every time I learn something new, not just because I enjoy pretty garments, but because I also learn something about the nature of who we are.

Cora's book list on the history of fashion

Cora Harrington Why did Cora love this book?

Like my previous recommendation, How to Read a Dress is heavy on the visuals, but unlike my previous recommendation, this book gives you the language to describe and talk about what you’re seeing. If you’re ready to move beyond the basics and get a little more detailed in your study of fashion, How to Read a Dress is the perfect next step.

By Lydia Edwards,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Read a Dress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fashion is ever-changing, and while some styles mark a dramatic departure from the past, many exhibit subtle differences from year to year that are not always easily identifiable. With overviews of each key period and detailed illustrations for each new style, How to Read a Dress is an authoritative visual guide to women's fashion across five centuries.

Each entry includes annotated color images of historical garments, outlining important features and highlighting how styles have developed over time, whether in shape, fabric choice, trimming, or undergarments. Readers will learn how garments were constructed and where their inspiration stemmed from at key…


Book cover of Worn in New York: 68 Sartorial Memoirs of the City

Alyssa Hardy Author Of Worn Out: How Our Clothes Cover Up Fashion's Sins

From my list on style.

Who am I?

Fashion has been the love of my life since I was a little kid pouring over magazines and watching shows on fashion TV in the middle of the night. But I’ve always known fashion is not about clothing, its about feeling and it’s about people. That’s why I love to read the stories about people who work in fashion, who have been impacted by fashion and those who love it just as much as I do. 

Alyssa's book list on style

Alyssa Hardy Why did Alyssa love this book?

If you prefer something more visual when it comes to books about style, Worn in New York is certainly that.

It’s a fun look at specific pieces of clothing that were, well, worn in New York by influential people. Each one is a first-person account of a specific item and it corresponds to a photo of the piece. One of my favorites is the story and image of actress Aubrey Plaza’s page uniform that she apparently stole when she worked at NBC. 

By Emily Spivack,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Worn in New York as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The boots a passenger had on when his plane landed on the Hudson River.
The tank top Andy Warhol's assistant wore to one of their nightclub outings together.
The jacket a taxi driver put on to feel safe as he worked the night shift.


These and over sixty other clothing-inspired narratives make up Worn in New York, the latest volume from New York Times bestselling author Emily Spivack. In these first-person accounts, contributors in and out of the public eye share surprising, personal, wild, poignant, and funny stories behind a piece of clothing that reminds them of a significant moment…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in clothing, fashion, and fashion design?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about clothing, fashion, and fashion design.

Clothing Explore 34 books about clothing
Fashion Explore 49 books about fashion
Fashion Design Explore 11 books about fashion design