Brace yourselves. It’s time for a chic rant.
Obviously, I have a thing for all things “chic” since I have incorporated the word into my blog title. I love chic! Naturally, I am drawn to articles and information that promotes the concept and celebrates it. But this does not mean that I seek my inspiration and guidance from fashion magazines. No, siree! I gave up on the glossies a long, long, long time ago. I didn’t even really enjoy them back in my teen years or my impressionable 20s. When I was 19 my subscription was to “Victoria” magazine (I subscribed to this magazine for years). That admission should tell you a great deal about little ole’ vintage moi. “Vogue”, “Cosmopolitan”, and the like were, at best, bought on rare occasions–like maybe the September issue of “Vogue” or an issue featuring a favorite person. The biggest reason I didn’t buy them was because I have always been more of a realist. The flamboyant fashions and styles presented in those 1980s/90s magazines either made me laugh or scratch my head. Did I ever find inspiration? Rarely. (Conversely, did I find inspiration in “Victoria”? Oh yeah. I remember owning at least one Lanz dress).
Another reason I quickly tired of them? Because of the outrageous, over-priced clothing and accessories that would be featured in those slick pages. Or should I say the outrageous, over-priced garb that the “slick” advertisers and editors were using to target me–a small-town, non-fashionista who didn’t know a Chanel from a channel.
$500 for a pair of shoes?
$1200 for a skirt?
$3000 for a handbag?
WHO were these fools kidding???
I lost interest. I didn’t know who was spending that kind of money for a wardrobe but I did know it wasn’t, and never would be, me. I had more fun watching black and white classic films for style inspiration than wasting my time on the glossies.
With that brief history lesson about fashion magazines and me, imagine my chagrin when I came across an online article from Harper’s Bazaar entitled, ” Eleven Things Every Fashionable Woman Should Have by 30″. I took the bait. I was curious how they would present this “must have” list. And by 30? Most 30 year olds I know are paying off student loans, buying first houses/cars, or having their first babies. But yes, by all means, let’s find out what “every fashionable” 30-year-old should have in addition to these other necessities of life:
1. A Classic shoe. They mentioned it didn’t matter if the shoes were heels or flats as long as they were “well-designed, versatile and timeless”. The shoes pictured are black stilettos by Manolo Blahnik for $595.
(via Zappos–probably NOT what Harpers had in mind–LOL!)
2. A Great Suit. This should be tailored to fit you like a glove and it will take you from interviews to anywhere you need to be “chic and professional”. The featured suit is by Stella McCartney. The jacket is $1295 and the pants are $595.
(this is pretty much my idea of a tailored suit, J.Jill Wearever)
3. A Signature Flower. I actually found this suggestion refreshing. There is really no price on this item. You just find what you like and make it yours. Yet, here I am at 43, and I don’t think I could pick just one “signature” flower. Roses, peonies, irises, lily of the valley, tulips all make my heart rejoice. I guess this one is a major fail for me.
(one of my many faves…and I love this shot taken a few years ago)
4. A Beautiful Timepiece. OK. I love watches–I really do. And I would rather wear a nice watch than a “fashion” watch any day. But will buying a $2350 Hermes H Heure be feasible for the average woman by 30? Can a timepiece cost less than that and still be beautiful? Yes, it can.
(Philip Stein Dual Time Watch. Retails for $800-$1000. I found mine on Ebay for just over $100)
5. A Go-To Lip Color. Agreed. The M.A.C. brand featured is not unreasonably priced either ($16). A great lip color is always a good idea. I buy a Revlon lip gloss as my “go-to” color for around $7 or $8. Worth it. Make-up is a great way to wear haute couture designers without taking a second mortgage on the house.
(I also love this one–this is my “splurge” gloss by Mary Kay)
6. A Personal Scent. Another suggestion that didn’t have a pricey example. Kudos, HB! Just like make-up, this can vary greatly in price. But I like the idea of having a personal scent. Did I have that figured out by 30? Nope.
(currently I love Tocca fragrances Florence and Simone–via Sephora)
7. Jewelry You Never Take Off. In the article it mentions owning an “heirloom” quality piece and shows a $16,870 ring. I wear my wedding ring and a ring inherited from my grandmother. Neither of which even come close to that value. Still, they are priceless to me.
8. Original Art You Love. Again, another suggestion that is open to interpretation. A $5,800 painting is shown in the article but it is said that this original piece can be anything that speaks to you. At 19, I fell in love with a turn-of-the-century Impressionist type print. It was gifted to me by my love before I was 30 and it still hangs in my house. I also cherish some photos I have taken and a little clay Loch Ness monster made by my Belle Fille when she was in 3rd grade. Again, all priceless to me but in no way nearing a $5,800 price tag.
(via~have loved this since I was 19. obviously, i don’t own the original)
9. A Forever Bag. Torn and divided on this one. While I would love to own a couple different iconic bags, spending thousands of dollars on a handbag makes absolutely no sense to me. And would it really, truly be my forever bag?? It would never wear out? I would never tire of it? Doubtful. Was I in a position to buy a $2500 handbag at 30? Am I now? Again, a hearty, nope!
(not chanel but looks pretty close–vintage koret)
10. A Killer Winter Coat. “A neutral hued topper in a luxe fabrication will take you miles and years”. I wrote about coats not long ago. And I agree that a well-made, great quality coat is a smart investment (especially if you have survived the long, cold winter of 2014 like I just did). To buy what Harpers is easily intimating, one had better be prepared to plop down a grand or two (or more). Because what I have seen in stores in the $500 range WAS NOT top quality. I say buy vintage if you truly want an affordable, awesome, well-crafted winter coat. My $1 investment, garage sale find, still suits me well. And the Talbot’s cashmere/wool blend coat I bought before the age of 30 (on sale) still looks great and is being used by my mom. She says she gets compliments when she wears it.
11. The Perfect Little Black Dress. In the article, that is all that is said. No suggestions. No brands given. And yes, I can agree that having a LBD is a good idea even before 30. LBDs are timeless. Does it have to cost the small fortune fashion magazines would like you to believe it should? Not at all. Just find one that suits your body type, swing on some pearls (faux work great too!) and you are good to go.
That was some list, huh?
OK. Let’s have some fun. Let’s pretend I am 28. Harper’s Bazaar is my fashion bible. I see this article and think, “yes, I want to know what I must do/own to be fashionable during the next 2 years so I can achieve that prestigious accolade of fashion greatness by 30”. I read the article, take my notes, make a plan, and finally do the math. I will need to invest around $30,000 (not including the costs of the coat, LBD, signature scent and flower) to realize this
dream, fantasy, farce.
And this is why I do not like fashion magazines. Alternatives are not given. The examples chosen are ridiculous either in style or price. Don’t get me wrong. I believe there is “merit” to the above list. But to have all these things by 30? Farcical. To have to spend that kind of money by 30? Equally so. I knew myself better at 40 than I ever did at 30 and I still can’t afford, nor would I choose to spend, that kind of money on perishable “things”.
Yes, I know my world is small. I know there are women out there that can spend seemingly endless wads of cash on the “best”–or maybe it is just the “now”–fashion. Fine. Great. Whatever. I just wish more fashion magazines would cater to real women, the true demographic of our society. And I really wish they would all cease with “must have” lists. They are “must haves” according to “them” and not tailored to “you”. Being “chic” does not have a price tag.