28 November 2005
It's hard to imagine a magazine less relevant to my existence than Harper's Bazaar; it's aimed at (1) women (2) with a lot more money than I'll ever have (3) and the willingness to spend it on clothing, for Prada's sake.
So I just renewed it for another year, because, hey, it's about as realistic as those science-fiction magazines, and what's more, it's a whole lot cheaper. Besides, fashion is fascinating, and not just because the Bazaar version is hyperexpensive and presumably designed for women with the general contours of twelve-year-old boys; in some ways, you can read it as an informal poll of how things are going otherwise, as the Princess explains:
If there is any indication of the mood of the country, it is typically how the consumers feel: if there is a chance that they might be depressed, the mood at the mall will be sullen and low, with people crowding around the clearance racks instead of trying on bright formalwear and expensive shoes. Skirts get longer, colors get darker, and the salesclerks are rude and unforgiving. But today, shopping was pleasant for the first time in a few years. The colors on the Gap sweaters didn't fade into the background, people were conscious about saying "please," "thank you," and "excuse me," which is an oddity even inside Club Monaco. I have to take this as a positive indication.
And it's not just socioeconomic phenomena that are filtered through fashion. In the December issue, Maureen Dowd (of course) draws a bead on the unfortunate (according to feminist theory) fact that Looks Matter:
It's still a catch-22 for women. If you pay too much attention to fashion and looks, you may be deemed superficial; if you don't pay enough, you may be deemed sloppy.
And here she quotes a friend of hers in the D.C. establishment:
"I'm constantly asked by my male colleagues ... how much I spend on shoes and how many pairs I own. Do I ask them what they spent on their super-high-tech home-movie theaters? No. It makes me defensive."
I'm not even going to try to decide whether a $3000 HDTV is worth more or less than five pairs of Manolo Blahniks at $600 each.