Need to brush up on your fashion knowledge? Still wondering about the original inspiration for the punk movement? Well now is the time to swot up and indulge your inner sartorial geek. Celebrated fashion commentator Colin McDowell is releasing a coffee table tome covering fashion’s history and its effect on modern day style. The book, The Anatomy of Fashion: Why We Dress the Way We Do, is filled with captivating images and noteworthy facts and is the produce of several years of extensive research.

Versace advertisement, early 1990s

Covering everything from Marie Antoinette’s eye-watering headpieces to Alexander McQueen’s incredible gowns, McDowell delves in to the past to reveal how every period of human history has influenced the way we dress today. Accompanying the fascinating images is McDowell’s entertaining, witty and knowledgeable commentary, weaving through the centuries with his unique narration.

Gown by Pierre Balmain, 1953; photograph by Philippe Pottier

Social norms of Elizabethan clothing sit beside iconic Balmain creations, 1950s knitting patterns and celebrity style icons Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Every angle, ground breaking advertising campaign and historical turning point is collected and considered, their relation to today’s fashions captivatingly explained.

The Anatomy of Fashion by Colin McDowell, Phaidon 2013

So now there’s no excuse not to know when the first bras were worn, or why hemlines rise and plunge with the passing of time. All the style answers you’ll ever need have been carefully considered and collected, so swot up and impress.

The Anatomy of Fashion by Colin McDowell, £59.95 / €79.95 Phaidon 2013, www.phaidon.com