chic ~~ should it have a price tag?

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.

I Love my Philip Stein watch!

(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.

Mary Kay® NouriShine Plus® Lip Gloss

(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.

Tocca Beauty - Florence

(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”.

Rant over.

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.




18 thoughts on “chic ~~ should it have a price tag?

  1. Awww, Heather, I love your thoughts on this, as much as I like these little “classics in your closet” lists. But by no means can the average woman own these brand items – unless inheriting them or finding the greatest deals second hand. What turns me off on most fashion mags is that they will only show the expensive brands, instead of showing better priced alternatives. this is what I like about blogs and bloggers showing their personal styling ideas – be it used or be it new.
    Yes, I do have a couple of expensive things, but generally I check the price tag, sales and second hand 🙂 and the older I gut the less all of it means to me.
    Okay, enough for now, before I take up all your space 😉 xo


  2. I enjoy some magazines, but I no longer enjoy the “fashion” magazines for so many of the same reasons you listed – no real inspiration, and everything with an unattainable price tag. As a woman in my 30s, I can confidently say while I have some of the things on this list, none of them have the crazy price tags you listed, and the reality is that I would never spend that much on any of the items on this list! I think it’s very few women in their 30s who would actually be able to afford these given items.


  3. This is great! The signature scent one though hit home. My mother wears L’air Du Temps and that is how my mother smells. So, when I had children I knew I wanted them to have a scent memory of me as well as all the other memories, good and bad. So, I chose very carefully knowing it would be something I wore forever. Not on all occasions, but definitely when my children are about. So, Jergens lotion and Cabotine De Gres. I have changed lotion. I wear different perfumes for different occasions. But when I am around my children, I always wear those two. A signature most definitely.


  4. I do look at style magazines occasionally for inspiration, but I take away my own interpretation of what works for me. I have to say though the older I get the less I can relate. That’s why I love the over-40 and -50 style blogs that I can read online, esp. those written by just regular people, like myself. And as far as the list, I don’t like wearing black, so I interpret this to a LND (little navy dress!) and I can’t just settle on one perfume or flower! Nice post Heather.


  5. Totally agree! Thanks for posting this. I look at some of these fashion magazines and have the same thoughts. There are even blogs that are the same – the visuals are pretty but they aren’t realistic. I mainly look at fashion magazines to get ideas or see where the trends are going. Would I like to get a Celine purse or Manolo heels? Sure, but the truth is I just wouldn’t spend that much on something. I enjoy reading your post and the occasional rants!


  6. Pingback: french friday ~~ a vintage french chic giveaway | vintage french chic

  7. So true. I only look at fashion mags now for inspiration, and even that is dubious. Most of the pieces are too editorial and not wearable at all. Really I only look at them to get a sense of what is happening right now in fashion. My husband picks up lots of free magazines for me when he travels, otherwise I don’t bother spending $ on them. With vintage/thrift shopping or shopping on Ebay people can pick up items that are often better quality and much more reasonably priced.



  8. Great post, Heather – it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg for being chic … and well dressed.
    Personal I would never be able to buy a hand bag for 5.000$ – and I don’t need one neither. I would spend that kind of money on any fashion item, first of all because I can’t afford it. If I had the money .. I don’t know. With money prospective change.
    You’re just spot on and always very chic.


    • I am in my mid 50s and I often contemplate on fashion vs fashion magazines, needs vs wants, price tags vs values, etc.
      I like pretty things, I like vintage, but I fashion what suits me, what is timeless, and makes me elegant, but not flashy.
      I shop at thrift stores but I stop occasionally at Tiffany’s as well.

      Is it wrong to purchase a $4400 Chanel bag because I am 100% debt free, I can afford, and I wish my daughter to have a Chanel in 15-20 years?


      • Nope! Not at all. But I don’t think you needed me to tell you that. : ) You are a woman of means, you know what you like, you keep your options open. Even if I was 100% debt free, buying a bag at that price would still give me great pause–and my husband a heart attack. I could do it with less guilt but I am not sure I would–but that’s just me!


      • I haven’t said that it’s wrong to buy a Chanel bag. I said I wouldn’t do it .. first of all because I can’t afford to.
        I’m 100% debt free too … we all have different values.
        I probably could afford a bag if I stopped travelling, but travelling gives me more. I wish I could afford both.


  9. Thanks Heather for your thoughts, you too Viveka 🙂
    I didn’t mean to change the subject with my silly “thinking aloud” with a question mark.
    I’d better start packing for my upcoming trip and stop daydreaming 😉

    Great blog Heather, I really feel right at home here. Thanks, and a bientôt!


  10. I like the idea of having chic, classic pieces but I agree that the prices in the article are prohibitive. And a big price tag doesn’t make something worthy. You got some great deals though. The watch, especially! It’s beautiful and at $100, much more affordable,


  11. I would need to double check your list but I am pretty sure I do not have any of the “must haves” on the day this article came out,,, which just so happened to be my 60th birthday…..oh whoa is me!


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