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Where Can You Find Style Inspiration Today?

Where Can You Find Style Inspiration Today?

In my teens, I subscribed to a popular fashion magazine, Seventeen Magazine, and later in my 20’s, to Glamour. It was always a thrill to receive the latest issue and pour over the images that inspired, and the stories that made us aspire, to a better life, to what we could hope for: perfect hair, perfect makeup, and the latest perfect outfit.

Gloria Steinem & Glamour Magazine

There were also profiles of girls and women who lived glamorous lives. For a long time, I held onto one issue of Glamour Magazine that featured a new up-and-coming editor named Gloria Steinem. I kept that one because I, too, hoped to one day write for magazines. So Gloria became a kind of talisman (or maybe now I have to say taliswoman?) for me.

The article showed Gloria at a New Year’s Eve party (staged, of course, as the photoshoot had happened months before) where hip people in the publishing industry rang in the New Year, and just like us ordinary “folks,” ate a working-class spread of hot dogs and champagne. It described Gloria’s black boot-cut slacks as perfectly tailored, “Within an inch of their life.” Language for fashion was a bit quaint then. But that became my standard for how I wanted my own boot cut pants tailored: “Within an inch of their life.”

Breaking Boundaries

In the past ten years, I have become friends with a magnificent woman who graced the covers of some of the most celebrated fashion publications back then. She is now 75. Striking, and with aquiline features, she was something of an anomaly in fashion. But she was a darling of Diana Vreeland, the daring and experimental editor of Vogue and then Bazaar, who was the first fashion editor to make bold artistic statements through her images. It was also the time when Beverly Johnson became the first woman of color to grace the cover of any American fashion magazine. Boundaries were starting to break.

An Unexpected Side Effect

For a long time, the industry has seriously missed the mark when it comes to inclusion. So the more recent emphasis on magazines featuring models and celebrities of different ethnicities, ages, and sizes seemed like a welcome and much-needed change. But in the last few years, something has tagged along with the rush to amend for the industry’s past sins of omission. There is a spirit of meanness, anger, and divisiveness in all of these publications, and it permeates nearly every article, editorial, and image. It has the energetic imprint of political combat. It probably excites passions, but something important has been lost in the process: Art.

Today’s Fashion Magazines

What made the fashion magazines charming and inspiring was that they pushed boundaries, but they educated the eye. Pick up any fashion magazine today and you will get a lecture, a dozen or more images of very angry women (“fierce” is the new buzzword), and a smattering of advertiser-pushed articles featuring questionable “best of” products. It’s an industry dying by suicide.

So, how much importance do we really put into fashion and fashion magazines now? Or are we just going to be relegated to wearing the loungewear and athleisure that takes up the majority of space in nearly every catalog as we stay sequestered for… how much longer now?

Do We Care As Much Now?

Maybe the better question is: do we care as much as we once did? That’s not a question having to do with our chronological age. I think by now most of us agree that the desire to present ourselves as attractively as possible, regardless of age, persists over time. The question is more rhetorical. What do we care about now, after a year when most of us have lost loved ones, many have lost any semblance of economic security, and the future doesn’t seem to fit any pattern we have known. And do we really want to be “fierce?” (What does that even mean?)

What we still care about is what humans have cared about from the beginning of time: beauty. There is a reason that we still go to museums, that we walk through lush parks, forests, and along beaches. And that we make a special effort to create delicious and attractive meals. It’s the same reason that we care about how we look and what we wear. Beauty feeds us. It feeds our souls and elevates our mundane lives. It connects us with a higher power, a joyous, harmonious, and generous higher power.

Beauty Is Everywhere

Surrounding ourselves, and adorning ourselves with beauty celebrates the gift of just being alive. And it is always there if we take the time to look for it. It just takes a little effort. Maybe it means that instead of throwing on your sweats, you decide to wear that pink sweater that you’ve been saving for the day when you can celebrate with friends and family again. Or maybe it means polishing a favorite but slightly worn-looking pair of shoes before you go out to do errands. Or maybe it means combining some of your favorite wardrobe items in a new way.

When doing any of those bring you joy, it gives you better fashion feedback than any celebrity or fashion editor ever could. It’s the joy that comes from what my old kinesiology professor used to call “internal locus of control.” That’s a fancy way of saying, “giving your power back to yourself.”

Share Your Beauty

As for the state of the fashion industry, and fashion magazines in general (in whatever form they will exist), at some point the pendulum will swing – at least I hope it will – closer to what has been for millennia the original purpose of adorning ourselves. That purpose is to express and share our individual beauty: our coloring, our unique features, our unique bodies, but to do it joyfully and with good cheer. I don’t think there is any better way to be more inclusive or more fashionable than this.

How do you feel about the state of Fashion Magazines and the Fashion Industry today? Tell us in the comments at the bottom of this page.

Andrea Pflaumer is the author of two books: the Amazon best-seller Shopping for the Real You: Ten Essential Steps to a Perfect Wardrobe for Every Woman: Fashionistas, Fashion-phobes, and the Over 50 and She’s Got Good Jeans – a guide for how to shop for and where to find the perfect jeans for your body and budget.

She does in-person and online wardrobe and shopping consultations for women worldwide and blogs at Shopping for the Real You. Her free course, Lazy Person’s Guide to a Perfect Wardrobe is available on GoHighbrow. Andrea hosts two video series: Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50 and Shopping for the Real You: Expert Edition. She interviews women in the areas of fashion, beauty and wellness on her Shopping for the Real You YouTube channel. She is a regular contributor to several national and international publications for women over 50 and is presenting an online class this November through the American Institute of Image Consultants.

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15 Comments
  1. I also enjoyed all the fashion magazines from glamour and cosmopolitan to instyle and vogue. I always looked forward to the huge fall fashion issue. Now in my seventies and still very interested in fashion and the latest styles. I just wish the magazines lived up to my expectations. Even a couple years ago they were much better. I have subscribed to several and they are a waste of my time and their paper. So sad

  2. I’ve long ceased to enjoy/subscribe to fashion magazines (except I still enjoy mist ads). Anger and forced acceptance is crass and will continue to cause misery and anxiety. Nature, art, and friendships are there for the taking….

  3. I’m tired of having diversity shoved down my throat. Nearly every ad features people of color and when they do show Caucasians, they cast them as dumb, stupid people invariably with a “diverse” person showing them how to do something, whether it’s investing, buying insurance or cars. It’s an endless assault on us and I now refuse to watch any type of network tv. As for beauty magazines, how is it that the black culture can have their own publications with no repercussions?
    Our society today has gone off the deep end looking for problems where they don’t exist. As a result many of us have become bitter and angry with a deep seated hatred that will rear its ugly head sooner or later.

  4. I too loved Seventeen and Glamour Magazines. Not only were they fashion inspiration, they were windows on what to expect as I grew up. Glamour especially served as a “road map” for my future self. You may not be surprised to learn that I went on to work there for 25 years! Two points to correct: Gloria Steinem was never an editor on Glamour. She was a freelance writer first, then of course a celebrity and personality in her own right. And Diana Vreeland was the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar before she became editor-in-chief of Vogue. Not that any of that matters a hill of beans, but the old magazine person in me insisted. As far as magazines today, alas. Their glory days, for all the reasons we know, may truly be no more. However, I do feel they are bending over backwards to address diversity failings of the past. It is becoming obvious in a very off-putting way. And very few magazines actually show clothes one can wear or would want to. That is an opportunity, and I hope someone seizes it!

  5. Wow, I thought we were having a surface conversation on fashion magazines. I’m 70 and yes I used to read seventeen, vogue and glamour. Now not so much, the models look like they are in pain, not a smile. A torture look, how does that sell ? It must work, I just don’t enjoy looking, give me the California girl !

  6. Well, I sincerely hope this will all blow over and smooth out sooner than later. We need to support each other in a more loving and inclusive way. And we need to get back to the earlier intent of what fashion used to be about: elevating and inspiring women to look their best and express their unique beauty.

  7. Terrific comments, and what a fabulous career! Lucky you. And you are right. Steinem was a contributor, but it seems these days everyone considers themselves to be an editor if they are a contributor! I know Vreeland was at Bazaar first, long before Vogue, and that was where her wonderful artistic expression first blossomed. She was one of my spirit animals. The friend I mentioned in the article was a model named Samantha Jones. If you google her name from the 60s and 70s you will see some fabulous pix. I don’t know what direction the industry is going in general. There is an article in a publication I get (sent by a friend, I did not subscribe, as I have cancelled all my other subscriptions) about Dries van Noten in which he describes how we have to get back to the purpose of fashion – beauty. I was so nappy to read that, especially after writing this article. But then they showed the most god awful things he has recently designed! Yes there’s a niche there that some smart and energetic person could pursue. I would consider it…if I were about 25 years younger. Thanks for the great comments.

  8. I was delighted to read your comments regarding what has happened to the Fashion Magazines. I have been feeling the same way regarding disappointment in the format with the over emphasis on racial concerns. I no longer have a desire to subscribe to them. It is not only Fashion Magazines. I subscribe to the New York Times Sunday Edition. As part of the edition, fashion magazines are also included which again reveal over emphasis on racial concerns. I love fashion and would like to see inspiring beautiful designs as in the past. Considering a group of women who are not represented; how about women over 65 years being highlighted. There are many beautiful older models we would like to see more of.

  9. I don’t subscribe to any magazines anymore, mainly because of too many adds and less content. I have replaced them with online bloggers/ influencers/ vloggers, because some of them are addressing average women and their clothing choices. I have dubbed them ; vlogazines! As they add more adds, I will move on from them as well. I do miss the intelligent stories, on worldly matters/ art and travel. I have turned off the TV also, I’m enjoying my time without it.

    1. I understand where you are coming too. I miss writing about them. I will again soon, hopefully. Warmly, Honey

  10. I totally agree with all you ladies. I haven’t picked up a fashion magazine in years. I don’t want to dress like a teenager and it seems that’s what they are pushing. As a teacher of middle school students, I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen moms dressed like their thirteen year old daughters. At thirteen, I wanted to look like my stylish mother, not the other way around.
    I was also so very disappointed that our beautiful first lady, Melania Trump was never featured in any magazines or on any covers that I know of. Her style and sophistication was unparalleled. Unfortunately, she was overlooked while other first ladies with less fashion sense were given royal treatment.

    1. And, Melania Trump speaks five languages. “Dr.” Biden speaks one and writes poorly. You are so right about everything. It’s time the ‘woke’ press ‘awakened!’ I am glad you are teaching our children. Warmly, Honey

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