Fashion Review: March 2013 – Lucky Magazine

Another month, another airport fashion review. I’ll have you know that I researched one two weeks ago – at great cost of personal boredom! – only to leave the glossy magazine on the plane. Tragic!

I have managed to find another new magazine to review, in the Hudson News Kiosk in Boston Logan’s Terminal C (right across from Starbucks!) This flight’s magazine is Lucky ( It’s a light, $5 periodical that bills itself as “The Magazine About Shopping”. I’m actually really impressed with it. But first, the lessons learned from the season.

One of many totally buttoned up shirts.

1) BUTTON UP. And I can’t bold this enough… if you are wearing a button up, collared shirt this season, BUTTON IT ALL THE WAY UP. Practically every page had a button up shirt, and each and every one of them was shown buttoned to the neck. If you’re like me, and you take the fashion advice your older sister enforced on you when you were 14 as unchangeable gospel law, you may still think it is entirely unacceptable to button a button up shirt all the way. However, it turns out that this is the kind of thing that changes. So take that wardrobe staple and make it look like you are part of 2013.

Challenge rating: easy, low risk, different way of wearing what you already have. Do it.

Have fun with the prints on jackets this year.

2) Florals. Floral jackets, floral skinny pants, floral prints. Bright colors & pastels… the flowers are in. This works well for me, since I have a large collection of brightly colored jackets (many of which have floral prints). A pretty, bright jacket with a white/cream/black set of accents will probably endure several season without looking dated.

Challenge rating: easy, medium long term value, great accent piece.

I do not have this much courage. Or money.

I’m significantly more nervous about floral pants. I can’t see any way you get more than one season out of a brightly colored pair of daisy pants – and you’d probably only get to wear them 4 – 5 times over the course of the remaining season (you can wear distinctive pieces less often). Plus, they’re pushing it for office wear. So this is a style to go with only if you love it.

Challenge rating: moderate. Try to get more wear out of the fashion by picking a less flashy print (like a black and white, or a very subtle print). Don’t spend on quality for this purchase.

For the daring out there, floral print suits are apparently a “thing”. I’m having trouble coming up with a circumstance where this would be a good investment. I wouldn’t wear one to an interview, or to meet with an important client. And those are the two circumstances in which I wear suits. (Well, it probably goes without saying that a floral suit != the thing for a funeral either.) Maybe, maybe, maybe if you’re like officiating a wedding? Yeah. So here’s a fashion trend looking for a place to wear it.

Challenge rating: Difficult: I’d love to hear the circumstance where your best clothing choice would be a floral print suit.

I’m still not loving the color blocking that’s really popular right now.

3) A line skirts. I’m delighted to say that Lucky is less enamoured of the mini than whoever I was reviewing last time. Instead, they have a section on swishy, a-line skirts. I love this style skirt, as a person who has hips of note. (The style of skirt I cannot wear is a pencil skirt.) I might go a few inches longer in the hem than is fashionable, but that has everything to do with me and my inability to sit like a lady for any length of time. The way color matchings are going this year, you can even get a fun color (they have a neat plum skirt they matched with 11 tops, some of which are wild color combinations) and be adventurous with how you pair it.

Challenge rating: easy. It’s a great time to pick up a skirt you can wear when it gets warmer!

Now for the Lucky’s review itself. I must say that I am impressed. This one might be one worth subscribing to.

1) They have a four page spread showing how a significantly plus size model can dress to accentuate her figure. This was NOT ghettoized in a one page “what to do if you’re fat” section, which has so far been the best I’ve seen. It’s right in the middle of the magazine. Not only that, but the section gives tactical advice on the problems facing larger women. For example, thigh-irritation, button-up gapping, and pulling of fabric are all addressed. (For the record, the secret is apparently shapewear – a subject I’ve long promised to cover and have not yet done.) Best of all, the entire language and display are super positive. The model, who is probably a size 20, is show flatteringly and referred to as having “killer curves, and hourglass shape, pretty face, curves and professional polish”. It’s not pitying or condescending. NICE.

2) Among the beauty tips is a new kind of sunscreen designed for kids. It’s nice to read a fashion magazine that acknowledges the possibility its readers are also parents. This is useful information! (It’s a powder! You don’t have to rub it in!)

3) There was a fantastic Q&A section in the beginning that went over:
a. What to call various shoe types
b. How to wear them (and how not to)
c. Different outfit combinations.

This was particularly awesome as it finally answered a question I’ve been wondering for quite some time: namely what to call a particularly popular current shoe. (Answer: ballet flats! Yeah, I know everyone knows that. Except those of us who don’t.)

3) The prices were generally reasonable, and they include valuable discounts in the back (including a 30% off Modcloth which I may very well use!). The magazine did moderately well in the women-of-color category, with some ads and a few articles featuring diverse women. It was refreshingly short on celebrity homage and cattiness.

Overall score: A

This might be a very good choice for a starter fashionista. No tooth-grinding writing, no celebrity cattiness, no fat-shaming (not a single article on dieting), useful advice, discounts, reasonable price and cheerful attitude! (Also, not 3000 pages!)


February 2012 Magazine Report: People Style Watch

Grade: A-

The zeitgeist dress of Spring 2012

The zeitgeist dress of Spring 2012

I’m close to finished reviewing the magazines available in my Stop and Shop check out aisle. I hadn’t thought People Magazine would make the “fashion mag” list, but the February issue labelled itself a “Style Watch”. Plus, I figured I could brush up on my celebrities in the off chance that I acquired a sudden need to put names with faces for the latest starlets. (Let’s put it this way… I THINK there are three Kardashian sisters? I know they all have names that start with “K”. This is the sum total of my Kardashian knowledge.)

So here are the top trends I identified:

1) The expressive manicure is still going strong. Nail color ads dominate the magazine, and there are all sorts of exciting colors on offer. You no longer need to have all your fingers match – the hot thing is nail art. For example, painting your fingernails like various Angry Birds characters.

Do if: you find it fun
Do not do if: you do not find it fun, or you are not willing to maintain your fingernails so your manicure never looks awful.

2) Pink. Pink is the dominant color for the spring season, in all iterations, saturations and combinations. There was pink leather, hot pink, antique pink, lacy pink and shimmery pink. So if you like pink, go for it this spring!

3) Sheath dresses. I personally cannot wear sheath dresses. Dress manufacturers do not plan for hips like mine. (On the plus side, I gave birth – twice! – without pain medicine. Thank you, child-bearing hips.) I have tried. I have wanted to wear sheath dresses. But I cannot. If you do not have childbearing hips, a sheath dress is an awesome piece. They look great by themselves. They are the perfect under-layer for a suit jacket. They are usually flattering, and almost always professional. You can accessorize them up and down. A light pink sheath dress would say to the world, “I synthesize this season’s fashion trends”. Also, it would look super classy with a gray jacket and pearls.

Do if: you have slim hips, you want a versatile dress that you can style up and down, you want to look professional.
Do not do if: HIPS, you refuse to dry clean, you don’t like skirts that hit above your knee.

4) Miniskirts. I have too small a sample size to ascertain whether mini skirts are a hot new look this season, or whether this is just what happens whenever you’re looking at warm weather fashion. But tragically I am obliged to inform you that miniskirts are hot right now.

Do if: Miniskirts are your thing and you’re a pro at them and you love them.
Do not do if: Really, just do not do. It’s pretty much never cool professionally, it is wicked uncomfortable, it is crazy easy to do wrong, and you have to have behavioral stuff down as well as a skeletally slender body. Also, you really need to wear high heels with them. Go buy a sheath dress instead.

Bonus Most Terrifying Trend: High heel sneakers. I kid you not.

There are lots of these high heel sneaker styles. THE MIND BOGGLES.

There are lots of these high heel sneaker styles. THE MIND BOGGLES.

For the magazine itself, I was unexpectedly pleased. There were women of color on almost every page, in a very natural, uncontrived way. They did have the “one page larger sized person page” which often serves to highlight that on every other page, the largest size shown is a 0. However, many of the outfits shown are actually within reach of a realistic budget. They put together a whole Valentine’s day outfit for $100. I was expecting it to be a barf-o-rama of exploitative celebrity gossip, and was very pleasantly surprised!

December 2012 Magazine Report: Marie Claire

Grade: B+

I recently took back-to-back redeyes from Boston to San Francisco (and back again!) The redeye back I lurched into a ball of unconsciousness, but on the way out I had a bit of time. As usual, I stood before the Airport Store stand o’ massive magazines and tried to pick one. I’ve reviewed Instyle and Glamour, twice.

This time I picked Marie Claire. This isn’t one I’ve ever read before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Would it be horribly upscale? Trashy? Fancy?

Here’s what I learned:

Of course it’s sold out at a mere $1,875.00

  • Glory hallelujah, they say that I can find/use holographic stuff! That’s totally one of my fashion weaknesses! Score!
  • Sadly, the stuff they show is universally way out of my budget range. They have a “Luxe for Less” page, where I’m expecting, you know, $20 – $50 items. The actual items displayed run from $29 to $595 and average about $300. For whom is a $600 skirt “less”?
  • They have a section for “Big Girl in a Skinny World” that gives some plus sized fashion tips. Better yet, they DON’T include weight loss tips. Even better and better, Nicolette Mason is actually a regular Marie Claire staffer. It’s nice to see a plus size staffer at a fashion magazine.
  • The magazine includes multiple, positive portrayals of working women. I’m not sure why that stands out to me, except it points to a more mature demographic.
  • Rejoice lovers of looking good – old school glamour is in, especially the dark lips, soft curls combination that I secretly wish I could reproduce.
  • Finally in the plus column, they include an article about a non-heterosexual relationship. It’s refreshing to read a fashion magazine that isn’t all “How to please your man in 39 completely obvious ways we include in every issue”. (Why yes, I am thinking of Cosmo….)
  • So Marie Claire includes women of color, plus sized women, working women and non-straight women. Why doesn’t it get my top ranking?

    A few things really pulled it down for me (and that was before I visited their obnoxious website):
    – The incredible cost of practically everything they showed. For anyone who is trying to, you know, not go broke… there’s hardly anything shown than you could BUY.
    – A very, very busy layout with confusingly intermixed ads. It was harder than usual to tell content from ad.
    – A lack of guidance. I felt like they had a lot of themed pages like “Designer Dossier” or “Survivor Mode” that showed themed clothes to buy… but that you had to be pretty sophisticated to be able to use their pieces. Safari themed high heeled pumps could go drastically wrong in (say) my wardrobe. Instead of explaining how something worked with current themes, or how it could be built on they had collections of extremely expensive pieces that would be risky for a neophyte to try.

    So…. good (for a fashion magazines) articles, risky fashion advice.

    This isn’t unique to Marie Claire, but I’d like to shout-out to for a series of ads that show a professionally well-dressed African American women with the tagline “Smart is Beautiful”. There’s nothing not to love in that!

    Amazon being smart

    November Fashion Update

    Seriously, doesn’t this look non-human, photoshopped and unappealing?

    I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus lately. I know there are few things more annoying than bloggers explaining why they haven’t blogged and promising to blog again (which is rarely the case), but… well, I was very busy. I was also really wondering whether what I’m trying to do here has value, or whether me giving fashion advice is the height of hypocracy. Reading the article on the damage that beauty-obsession can cause, I wonder if maybe we shouldn’t stick to our Birkenstocks and socks – where at least we’re happy with ourselves.

    But I remain convinced that there is a happy medium – a place where we pay attention to and enjoy the fun parts of fashion while still holding it lightly and remaining solidly in our skin. Also, someone came up to me at a party and told me that it was useful to her, and she was getting advice she valued. (She also called herself a fangirl. I am nothing if not susceptible to flattery.) So… thanks Jenny. And my schedule doesn’t get this crazy again until next October.

    The next fashion magazine on my list to review is InStyle. I’ve read two or three of them, and I suspect that this is one of the better resources for my little target demographic. It, like all fashion magazines, cares about celebrities. But it is about 90% less catty than Glamour was. It’s also relatively factual in its delivery of the relevant material, without weighing it down with value judgments. Even better, I learned a few things I found interesting and useful. They also do a WAY better job of translating the fashion to people of different sizes. They interpreted one look up to a 5X. Most fashion magazines refuse to believe that there is a size larger than 8, so I was happy to see them not only admitting, but un-shaming the larger crowd.

    Here are the relevant items:

    1) Color blocking
    I’m all set to hate this trend, but it’s definitely hot right now. You remember in the ’80s those sweaters that had big blocks of different colors? That’s all the rage. Kohl’s has quite possibly one of the ugliest front pages of their flier I’ve ever seen this last time – so ugly I noticed it (see top!). And the same seemingly-photoshopped picture is in the InStyle magazine. Seriously, it looks like an awful maniupulation job of a non-biologically correct mannequin, covered by a horribly unflattering dress. So…. you can adopt this color blocking trend. But I’m guessing that because even the models don’t look good in this style, it won’t have much power or endurance

    2) Leather shorts/skirts
    I ignored this in my last fashion report because I had trouble crediting it was true. Seriously, people are buying and wearing leather shorts? Apparently this is the case (although not in the financial district – I assure you. In fact, this is a trend I don’t think I’ve actually seen in public.) I consider a leather skirt/shorts a way advanced fashion skill. They’re really expensive and you’re supposed to be buying them as an “investment piece”. But an investment piece you can’t wash? Really? And what about the fit? How many of us have figures to pull off leather skirts anyway? And how many of us have bodies so unchanging we can purchase form-fitting clothing as an “investment”? And, um, don’t people get sweaty in them? Plus, this trend is so expensive it’s really hard to dabble in it and see how it will work. So it’s a trend, but unless you’re way more advanced fashion-wise than I am (or it’s a life long dream), I recommend against pursuing it.

    3) Some great tips
    – Use vinegar spray on armpits to remove staining
    – “De-Scuff Skins: Rub plain leather with a crepe eraser ($2, which will lift even deep stains. For suede, all it takes is a firm toothbrush and some elbow grease”
    – Store gems and jewelry in plastic bags
    – If you have jeans you can’t or shouldn’t wash, you can freeze them to kill bacteria and reduce smell (which really? Why buy jeans you can’t wash?)

    4) BB – Beauty Balm
    Finally, there were like 93 ads in the magazine for beauty balm. As far as I can tell, BB is a generic name (as in there are multiple brands) for something that moisturizes, tints (like foundation) and provides SPF coverage. I decided that this might be worth trying out, so I’ve bought some (at the grocery store!) and I’ll give you a report.

    So what’s up with you? Have you been paying more attention to your style? Have you learned any fashion skills or tips in October and November? Do you have something you wish I’d cover from the pragmatic perspective? Let me know!

    Magazine Review: Glamour

    Glamour: Grade C

    Glamour: being progressive by claiming Venus is not hideously fat

    Glamour: being progressive by claiming Venus is not hideously fat

    When I fly, I often get girly/womanly/fashionly magazines. Especially when I’m tired, it’s fun to flip through a magazine, read the advice columns and look at the pictures. In the last year or two, I’ve come to realize that what I’ve thought of as super-light barely-reading material is actually much more in the life of a fashionable woman. These magazine are the white-papers of the fashion world. They are the TED talks and Economist, all in one glossy package. The truly fashionable women study fashion very seriously, and invest a tremendous amount of mental energy and effort into keeping up with the latest advances in their areas of study. This is the need these magazines fulfill.

    So you and I, in our desire to look like we care about fashion, had better at least read the Cliff notes version of the fashion magazines. (Note: my goal is to become your bullet-pointed, cliff-notes version. Unfortunately, that therefore requires me to read all these magazines cover to cover.)

    So I have set myself a goal of reading one fashion magazine cover to cover every month. From this, I will give you two things:

    1) What has changed in fashion since the last month
    2) Which fashion magazine is least gag-worthy and most helpful, in case you decide you need to use primary sources

    Up first was Glamour Magazine. I read it for two consecutive months – September and October 2012 – since one month is too small a sample size.

    First, the upside:
    – Glamour offers 282 pages of content (probably 50% of which is paid advertising)
    – If you buy it at the airport (my usual M.O.), it costs $7.99, which is a mid-range price.
    – Reading it will give you a good overview of the season’s fashions
    – Contains some good outfit ideas, even if most are too edgy to be attempted by amatuers
    – There were one or two half-hearted attempts at body-positive writing.

    Now, the downsides:
    – Glamour sells the sort of celebrity-centric, dumb-girl, how-to-get-the-guy kind of fashion writing that convinced me at an early age that fashion was not meant for me.
    – Representations of minorities are minimal. There was Gabby Douglas, Michelle Obama, and one smart Amazon add. By far, most of the women represented are are light-skinned.
    – Body type variation was also very limited. My jaw dropped when they considered it a legitimate question whether “The Birth of Venus” representation was too fat. Very few of their fashion suggestions were optimized for women with non-fashionable sizes.
    – It was very catty. September’s involved Posh Spice as the editor. At one point she talked about how “realistic” and “authentic” another woman was, and you could just hear the poison seeping through the pages.
    – I was very annoyed by the “Tee hee hee aren’t we stupid” affectation. This month, it was pretending that a fit man’s body might make our vocabulary desert women. Last month, it was carrying a hollowed out book as a purse in order to make us seem smart… which we would only want to do in order to attract dudes. UGH.
    – Totally ageist. There was a skin care regimen by decade. The list of things 20 year olds were expected to do was appalling. But the advice stopped at 40, because dude. After that? You’d pretty much dead.

    Gag me with a spoon.

    Gag me with a spoon. Also, it’s called an “Iliac Furrow”.

    Conclusion: Buy if you’re really, really bored. But you can find better sources of fashion information, and gossipier, more fun columns. For the most part, don’t bother.