As I learn about fashion, I've become more and more interested in what is considered beautiful in the non-Western world. The non-hourglass figures, the clashing patterns, the wild colors all serve as a reminder that the fashion "rules" perpetuated by magazines are very subjective.
When most people think of traditional Asian dress, they think of a cheongsam or a kimono, but Asia has much more breadth and depth as Tribal Asia: Ceremonies, Rituals and Dress demonstrates. Lesson learned: You don't always have to take off one accessory.
Along the same lines, Vanishing Beauty: Indigenous Body Art and Decoration and Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa feature people in remote tribes all gussied up in their festival best. Lesson learned: Perhaps blue eyeshadow and red lipstick aren't as bold as you thought.
There are several books featuring the Native American-centric photography of Edward S. Curtis, but my favorite is The Women. Not only is it a lovely look at a different culture in a different time, but the photographs themselves are calmly breath-taking. Lesson learned: The Hopi were ahead of Princess Leia.
Viva Colores: A Salute to the Indomitable People of Guatemala celebrates the spirit of the people in this war-torn country through bright photographs and short personal stories. Lesson learned: You know what goes with that color? All of them.
Not so remote, Gentlemen of Bacongo focuses on the interpretation of Parisian fashion by an elite group of Congolese dandies. Lesson learned: More men should wear pink. Sexy pink.