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.

Bright, Patterned and Skinny: Top Fashion Trends in Fall 2012

Part of the inestimable service I do for you by writing this blog is to read the fashion magazines, so that you do not have to discover that Victoria Beckham (aka Posh Spice) loves Lily Collins’ “little freckles and frizzy ponytail” because they make her look “fresh and less polished”. You’re welcome. I have just spent three commutes working my way through the Glamour September 2012 issue – taking notes in a notebook to identify trends and their strengths – in order to bring you information about What the Cool Kids are Wearing.

J Crew Shows off some pink pants

J Crew Shows off some pink pants

So the #1 hottest trend this fall?

Really flashy pants.

This trend seems to take two paths: brightly colored jeans and highly patterned pants. Lots of really crazy patterns are definitely a theme of the season – I’ve seen it in shirt, blouses, jackets and especially manicures. But the pants seem like the #1 trend. Even on the guys they’re showing orange, green, yellow and other solid but bright jeans.

I haven’t seen any in the wild yet, but as soon as the weather turns, expect your most fashionable colleagues and compatriots to begin wearing purple and pink paisley patterned skinny jeans. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Here’s some of the bright, unpatterned pants at The Gap:

Colorful, unpatterned pants at the Gap

Colorful, unpatterned pants at the Gap

Juicy Couture apparently did an entire show with much crazier patterned pants than they’re offering for sale. Still, here’s what’s hit the market:

Crazy patterns

Crazy patterns

Kohl’s and Target are dipping their toes into the trend in terms of offerings, but you can see that they’re focusing on it with ads:

Kohl's Add shows bright pants

Kohl’s Add shows bright pants

So… should we buy into this trend or pass on it?

Pros:
– Patterns are really fun
– One or two purchases could notch your “dresses like it’s this year” cred up considerably – especially since this is a breaking trend and if you buy now you will be a front-runner with it
– Colors are also really fun
– Usually we can’t get away with wearing stuff like this

Cons:
– I suspect that if you’re larger than a size six, some of these patterns could be highly unflattering
– When something is this fashionable, you cannot wear it for more than a year … if it lasts even that long
– When something is this noticeable, you can’t rewear it very often. No one notices when you wear the same pair of black slacks twice in a week. But if you wear your leopard print pants twice in a week, people will notice.
– There’s no guarantee this trend will take off… at which point you will not look like a trend-leader, you will look like a person wearing weird pants
– You can’t buy it on sale – or even at discounters like Target – yet. It’s too early in the fashion cycle. And by the time it is not too early, the trend will already be passing by. Woosh!

Buy a pair of these pants if:
– You are not budget strapped, and it’s ok with you if you have a pair of pants you only wear 20 times before you get rid of them
– You really like pretty designs
– You really like colors
– You want people to notice you

Do not buy these pants if:
– You have a minimalist wardrobe
– You hate waste
– You’re trying to stretch every dollar as far as it can go
– You don’t like being noticed for what you wear

Be careful about whether the colors and patterns look good on your body type. When in doubt, take a picture of yourself in the dressing room mirror and look at the picture. Is it just too much? Then stick with khakis. However, some of the asymmetrical designs I’ve seen would look good on larger legs. As usual, it just means you have harder shopping in front of you.

So what do you think? Is this the trend you’ve been waiting for since Hypercolor went out of style in the 90s? Have you spotted a real life pair of these pants yet? Do you find this trend fun or terrifying? Would you consider buying some, or have you already bought some? Do these pants make people look good?