Alison Adburgham was educated at home before winning a scholarship to Roedean School. Her first job was as an advertising copywriter, and she also wrote articles about manners and style for Clever Night & Day magazine. She married another copywrighter, whom she had four children. After World War II, she began contributing articles to Punch and The Guardian. She was one of the first British journalists to cover the fashion industry and became an expert on fashion history. She served as a governor of the London College of Fashion. She also wrote several books of social history, including Women in Print (1972), now considered a standard reference work for both media studies and women's studies, and Silver Fork Society: Fashionable Life and Literature from 1814–1840 (1983).