You don't have to be a collector to appreciate this glossy tribute to the styles of yesteryear. A visual feast filled with photos of everything from Coco Chanel's signature 1950s suits to Versace's 1990s dominatrix dresses, Tolkien's book also features neat historical tidbits: Who knew, for instance, that today's shoulder bags evolved-from the satchels that World War II-era European women held their gas masks in? Or that it was 1950s bouffant hairstyles that spelled the end for women's hats?
Along with her fashion history, the author—who owns a vintage clothing boutique in London and is married to a descendant of writer J.R.R. Tolkien—offers tips for telling the fakes from the finds at thrift shops; she also includes a list of more than 600 vintage clothing sources worldwide. And that's not counting your own closet. Remarking that a 1980s prototype pair of Nike Air Jordans recently sold for $22,500, Tolkien advises, "Before you clear out your sports locker, do check...to make sure you're not sitting on a slightly odoriferous gold mine." (Rizzoli, $35)
Bottom Line: Fun facts and photos of fashions gone by