Fashion magazines. Sigh! Love ’em. Loathe ’em. They both inspire and infuriate. Raise and lower self-esteem. They’re a conundrum. Wrapped in a riddle. Tied up with a piece of paradox string.
Ludicrous, I say! The fashion spreads are often ludicrous. They’re often so artfully produced that you can’t identify the items of clothing that are being featured. The lighting is arty, creating a am I really seeing that? effect. The models are often reed thin, unnaturally tall and super young. They look like giraffes that have just been born. All legs. The locations are bizarrely exotic. I mean, do we really need to see fall fashions displayed with the backdrop of a Marrakesh marketplace? If so, why? Apart from providing an opportunity for the model, photographer, stylist, wardrobe person, make up artistes and other associated crew to travel, I’m not sure what the purpose is.
I don’t get a lot of fashion spreads in fashion magazines, as can plainly be seen. I make no apology for the lack of understanding I have about fashion spreads.
But not all of them….. There are some magazines that make their fashion spreads easier to, shall we say, access. In Style is one such magazine. You can actually identify the items of clothing they are showcasing (ah – it’s a trench coat! with jeans! and ballet flats! riiiiight – got it!) .
Oh, Ita…. Way back when the media doyenne Ita Buttrose was editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly, she instituted fashion pages where one could not only identify the items on display, but one could imagine oneself actually wearing them. Ground-breaking!
And the problem would be….??? Fashion spreads in magazines can create a burning want, a yearning desire, for something we never knew existed until we laid eyes on it. There we were, happily living our lives, and wham! We see an animal print trench coat (well, name your desired object here) and we want it. We crave it. We wish to possess and make it all meynne!
We become infatuated with a man-made inanimate object that we are somehow convinced will fulfil an emotional need. We’ll feel happy, or something, when we own it. We’ll be content, when the object of our desire is turned into our possession and hanging in our wardrobe.
Except we don’t. Feel happy, that is. Or if we do, it doesn’t last long. It only lasts until we turn the page, metaphorically or literally, and see yet another thing that our heart desires (well, we think it’s our heart — it sure ain’t our brain making these evaluations).
So, there we are… our emotional state in something we could call yearning… and we see those words in fine print. The stockists information. Telling us how much the item is and where we can purchase it. Ah! Emotional release is at hand — we can turn our yearning into relief by purchasing the item! Hooray!
Disclaimer: not all magazines with fashion spreads produce fashion spreads which then produce this result for all readers all of the time. Naturally. But enough magazines with fashion spreads produce enough fashion spreads which produce enough of this result for many readers much of the time. Got that?
Now, does this mean I am against fashion spreads in magazines? Well, you may be surprised to hear the answer is… no. I’m not. I actually think they can serve a very useful purpose. They can:
- show us what’s current. If looking contemporary and reasonably up-to-date is important to you, this is handy info to have
- show us how to put different outfit combinations together. For those of us who can get a bit bored with mixing and matching the same pieces together all the time, this can be a shot of inspiration that has us creating new looks and fulfilling a need for variety
These are good things. Helpful things. And fashion magazines are in a perfect position to bring them to us.
What comes with it, often, is the manufactured need to go shopping. We feel something might be missing from our own wardrobe, and we have to go get it and fill that gap. This is not such a good thing.
So what’s the alternative? Ah, well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? Before we get to that, let me show you this, dear reader!
Stealing the Look — one way to go…. The photo accompanying today’s piece is from a rather inspiring blog called Steal the Look for Le$$. I love the idea this blog is based on — take a photo of a celebrity wearing an outfit that we like and would like to create for ourselves. Ms Gucci (the blog owner, I swear I could find no other name on the blog by which to identify the creator of these looks) then gives us a pictorial display of the outfit’s, er, components + she gives us some options of where we can procure each item at a cheaper price. Neat, huh?
This site is very creative and provides some helpful information. If you want to follow in the sartorial footsteps of certain celebrities, of course. Which some of us do, and some of us do not. But, all in all, I’d say this site is a positive thing.
What I take out of it is some ideas on how I could look at my own wardrobe differently. What fresh take could I put on existing items, to freshen up my look? To create some variety?
How about this? And this is one alternative that fashion spreads could take. Instead of showing us combinations made up of new items that must be purchased…. they could show us combinations of outfits we could create out of our existing items. Sure, they’d have to tell us what those core items were. Naturally. But they could take some fairly educated guesses at basic pieces most of us would have – like jeans and tailoured jackets and coloured t-shirts and plain pants and white shirts and long-sleeve t-shirts and black pants and so on.
And then they could give us a list of options on how to add ‘missing’ pieces to our look, without breaking the bank or even buying new. Such as swapping, consignment or op-shopping.
Now we’re cooking….Now, that’d be fairly neat. I’d be interested to read an article like that. How much more creative would that be? How much more inspiring? And how much more sustainable would that be? Damn straight. Right?