I’ve always liked fashion and style — even at middle-school age. So, I’m surprised that it’s not a major theme in more middle grade books. Today, I’ve rounded up a few middle grade books about fashion, including fiction and non-fiction picks. I’ve also included one young YA pick for older tweens. If you have a budding fashion designer, they’ll love these books.
Middle Grade Books About Fashion (Fiction)
Keeping It Real
Published: October 19, 2021
Marigold Johnson can’t wait to attend a special program at her family’s business, Flexx Unlimited, for teens who love fashion. But Mari quickly realizes that she’s out of place compared to the three other trainees—and one girl, Kara, seems to hate her on sight.
As tension builds and the stakes at the program get higher, Mari uncovers exactly why Kara’s been so spiteful. She also discovers some hard truths about herself and her family.
Be Real, Macy Weaver
Published: July 12, 2022
Eleven-year-old Macy Weaver knows relationships are complicated. Fresh off her latest friendship breakup, she’s spent most of her summer break on her own. So when Macy’s mother decides to go back to college three states away, Macy jumps on the chance to move—anything for a fresh start.
But Macy’s new home isn’t exactly what she expected. Her mother’s never around and her dad’s always working. Lonelier than ever, Macy sets her sights on finding a new best friend. When she meets Brynn, who’s smart and kind and already seems to have her whole life figured out—down to her future as a high fashion model—Macy knows she’s it. The only problem is that Brynn already has a BFF and, as everyone knows, you can only have one.
Resorting to old habits, Macy turns one small lie into a whole new life—full of fantastic fashion and haute couture—but it isn’t long before everything really falls apart. Ultimately, Macy must determine how to make things right and be true to herself—rather than chasing after the person she thinks she’s supposed to be.
I Love You So Mochi
Published: May 28, 2019
She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi’s entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life. When she arrives in Japan, she’s met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival — and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.
Ready to Wear (Sew Zoey #1)
Published: June 4, 2013
Over the summer, fashion-loving Zoey Webber gets the best news ever: Her middle school is getting rid of uniforms! There’s just one problem. Zoey has sketchbooks full of fashion designs, but nothing to wear! So with a little help from her best friends Kate and Priti, she learns to make her own clothes. She even begins to post her fashion design sketches online in a blog. That’s how the Sew Zoey blog begins, and soon it becomes much more.
Zoey’s quirky style makes her a bit of a misfit at middle school, but her Sew Zoey blog quickly gains a dedicated following. Real fashion designers start to read it! Yet even as her blog takes off, Zoey still has to deal with homework, crushes, and P.E. class. And when the principal asks her to design a dress for the school’s fashion-show fund-raiser, Zoey can’t wait to start sewing! But what will happen when her two worlds collide?
The Prince and the Dressmaker
Published: February 13, 2018
Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:
Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family.
Chloe by Design: Making the Cut
Published: August 1, 2014
16-year-old Chloe has always loved everything to do with fashion. Clothes, accessories, styling, designing – she knows it all. And when she finds out a new reality series for aspiring teenage designers is holding auditions in her town, she’s desperate to win a spot on the show. Chloe knows this is her chance to finally get her designs noticed. But before Chloe can realize her dreams, she has to survive the competition.
Published: August 31, 2021
With the arrival of a glossy, cream-colored envelope in the mail, Elena Martinez’s dreams come true: she’s been chosen for the Spread Your Wings Magazine’s Young Flyers program—a week-long summer internship where she’ll get to learn the ins and outs of working for the most popular teen magazine. She heads to New York City, anxious to get away from her best friend, Summer, who is suddenly spending a lot time with another girl from school and being secretive about it.
Once there Elena meets her fellow Young Flyers: Harlow, who can get to the bottom of any story, Whitney, who has spot-on fashion sense, and Cailin, a social media star with thousands of followers and an eye for photography.
As the four new friends explore the city that never sleeps, each girl brings a piece of home, and a few secrets, with them and learns that no one’s life is as glossy as it may appear. But with courage, teamwork, and lots of passion, there’s no stopping a Flyer.
Confidentially Yours #6: Vanessa’s Design Dilemma
Published: May 2, 2017
In the sixth installment of the series that readers of The Cupcake Diaries and The Baby-Sitters Club will love, advice columnist and resident fashionista Vanessa Jacobs must avert a major disaster in order to save the school newspaper and her fashion show.
When middle school style gurus Vanessa Jacobs and Katie Kestler decide to hold a fashion show to introduce their clothing line to the entire town, they’re beyond thrilled to learn that a buyer from a local boutique will be attending. This is their chance to break into the fashion world! But when Vanessa advertises runway model tryouts at school, she encounters a posting that uses the Lincoln Letters advice column to encourage students to guess the identities of the anonymous students who have been writing to the newspaper about their embarrassing problems.
To make matters worse, Vanessa and Katie encounter a major creative dilemma that could jeopardize their reputation as designers. With the future of their fashion show on the line and Lincoln’s Letters facing potential extinction, will Vanessa be able to catch the Advice Column Killer in the act and still pull off a successful runway show? Or will it be lights, camera, disaster?
The Bling Queen
Published: September 27, 2016
Twelve-year-old Tess loves fashion, but she has a soft spot for accessories. In fact, Tess runs her own consulting firm for the kids at her school. If you need the finishing touch for middle school dances, special occasions like a thirteenth birthday or bat/bar mitzvah, Tess can make it happen. She loves reading The Miscellaneous Moxie, THE online fashion blog that’s as crazy about accessories as Tess is.
So when the blog opens up a contest, calling all of their faithful readers to enter to win a chance at designing an accessory of their very own, Tess jumps at the chance to create something that will wow the judges.
But things get more complicated when her former BFF turned frenemy, Kayte (who added the y to be “unique”), a self-proclaimed fashion plate, tries to encroach on Tess’s turf—and submits her own entries for the blog contest. In the midst of the Bling War, Tess discovers that a precious locket from her beloved grandmother, Mimi, is missing. Can Tess solve the mystery behind the missing necklace and get crowned the Bling Queen, too?
Middle Grade Books About Fashion (Non-Fiction)
I Spy DIY Style: Find Fashion You Love and Do It Yourself
Published: April 17, 2012
Loved it on the runway? Seen it in a magazine?
Find fashion you love and do it yourself! With a few simple supplies and a range of clever ideas, DIY expert Jenni Radosevich shows you how to make style your own. Transform your basics into designer fashions. Turn hardware store finds into statement necklaces or embellishments for a chic dress. Recreate red carpet-ready looks and add your personal touch.
Filled with 30 step-by-step projects inspired by celebrities, designer runways, and classic styles, as well as tips from fashion insiders such as Rachel Roy, Olivia Palermo, and Rebecca Minkoff, I Spy DIY Style has everything you need for easy-to-make looks that will up your style quotient without sacrificing your budget.
How to Be a Fashion Designer (Careers for Kids)
Published: February 6, 2018
Design, style, and accessorize clothes with this fun guide full of practical fashion design ideas for kids.
Draw and color creations, choose materials, and learn to design through drawing your own fashion. Packed with practical tips and inspiration, children can enjoy experimenting with new ideas. Illustrations mixed with photography show kids how to choose gorgeous colors, design dress shapes, customize T-shirts, design a bag, pick a color palette, design with texture, and add sparkle to their accessories in simple, easy-to-follow design tasks and simple practical projects. Using inspiration from the natural world, everyday life, and their own imagination, children can design outfits from scratch and learn how to put together the clothes and accessories they already own in fun, stylish ways. Content support the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) approach to cross-curricular learning.
Sew Fab: Sewing and Style for Young Fashionistas
Published: February 10, 2015
Sew Fab is a style and sewing workbook for any girl aged 8–13 who loves fashion. It will teach you not just to sew, but how to wear your creations with flair.
Start by finding your style tribe, learning to accessorize, identifying the best colors for you, and more. Now get ready to sew. Make yourself a mini studio, stock your sewing basket, and try out some hand stitching. Finally, make some Art to Wear. There’s a mix of easy step-by-step projects to sew by hand or using simple machining, from a hair bow to a little black dress (but in the color that suits you best!).
A Kid’s Guide to Sewing: Learn to Sew with Sophie & Her Friends
Published: July 1, 2013
With this book by Sophie Kerr—with some help from her parents, Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr of Modern Quilt Studio—kids can learn how to navigate a sewing machine, make smart fabric choices, and use basic sewing tools. Sixteen kid-friendly projects run the gamut from clothes to bags to accessories, while clear, step-by-step instructions walk kids through the creation of each.
Throughout the book, tips from Sophie offer design and construction advice from a kid’s perspective—and move from simpler to more complex projects as kids’ skills develop. The book “grows” with the sewist, offering more complex project as the reader’s skills develop. It also functions as a visual dictionary of tools, materials, and terms that will be a go-to reference for young sewists.
Fashion Conscious: Change the World with a Change of Clothes
Published: July 7, 2021
With the Covid-19 global lockdown and a call to action from David Attenborough in Blue Planet II making everyone re-evaluate the relationship they have with the natural world, it has never been so important to consider the impact our clothing choices have on the planet. Shake up the fashion world by taking action as conscious consumers and active citizens. We have the power to collectively change the world with a change of clothes!
In the UK alone, over a million tonnes of clothes are thrown away each year and around £140 million worth of clothes head to landfill. Learn how to love your clothes by reusing, swapping and mending what you already have and discover how to choose wisely when you do buy something new.
This practical, positive and empowering book will open eyes to the impact our clothing choices have on people and the planet and empower children to demand answers to questions and take action.
Fashionopolis (Young Readers Edition)
Published: February 15, 2022
Did you ever think about where your jeans come from? How about the people who made your T-shirt, or what happens to the clothes you grow out of when you’re done wearing them? The fabrics clothes are made of, the way they are designed and sewn and shipped around the world, and the way we consume them and get rid of them–every step in this process has a big impact on our environment, on the people who work in clothing factories, and on our cultures. This nonfiction book shows us how the clothes we wear–and throw away–every day are made, and what that means for our planet and for people around the world.
There they are: 15 of the best middle grade books about fashion. Which of these books have you read? Which ones did I miss?
Again, I have the lovely folks on Twitter to thank for helping crowdsource this list. You can find more options in the replies to this tweet.
Which middle grade books do you recommend for kids who love fashion? I think of books like Paula Chase's Keeping It Real and the Sew Zoey series. Any other recs? Non-fiction welcome!— Afoma (Reading Middle Grade) (@readingMG) March 21, 2022
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