Thursday, September 17, 2009

The September Issue (or, People Unclear On The Concept)

As you may or may not know, your MatchGirl's roomie is a fashion stylist. Because of this, we get all sorts of fabulous fashion magazines in the mail. Being a girl who loves clothes, as well as one with a bit of extra time on my hands, I do love paging through those mags. Dreaming of the day when I will be employed and get to buy the gorgeous pieces of clothing (or a cheaper facsimile) represented within.

As it is the end of fashion week, I thought it would be, dear ones, an appropriate time to share with you some of my thoughts on the September issue of Vogue. Loads of fashion bloggers did this already and you can run a quick Google search and see what they had to say. Gorgeous, skinny models? Check. Loads of over the top outfits? Check. Beautiful actress on the cover? Check. Everything a September issue should have. Here is where my issue lies. The cover headline proclaims "584 pages of stylish steals and smart splurges" and in the Index section "100 under $500". Yes, my lovelies. That is Anna Wintour's idea of a steal - under $500 for an item.

Now, your MatchGirl is not a cheapskate. Far from it. She spent more than a decade working luxury retail and owns fabulous items ranging from Anya Hindmarch to Christian Louboutin to Marc Jacobs to Milly to Miu Miu. Of course, I mix these finds with H&M, Old Navy and Uniqlo, since the majority of my wardrobe is made up of lower/mid priced brands. Though, I love fine design and appreciate and authentic luxury item. However, I find neither a $450 beach towel by D. Porthault nor a $495 Judith Leiber lipstick case to be a steal. A $495 leather satchel in a classic color and style by Tory Burch, that will last you for years, perhaps if you consider cost per wear (which your MatchGirl almost always does), but ... really, Vogue? Sure, there are some spectacular items pictured here. But, steals? I think not.

There is an article in the issue by Teri Agins entitled "What Price Fashion?", which attempts to explain how designers are "trying to keep quality high and prices low". Though a cocktail dress, devoid of sequins or feathers or more that 2 yards of fabric, for under $2,000 (retail price $1,999) is not actually low-priced, Oscar de la Renta or not. There is nothing really new here and nothing said that wasn't written already in Dana Thomas's superb look into the world of uber-high end retail, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost It's Lustre. An actual luxury item - one that's made to order or made in a very limited quantity, stitched by hand and made from only the finest materials, should, of course, be at a high price point. It's a piece of art. And, if not one-of-a-kind, it's certainly not something you see everywhere. An item by a designer, who's name you recognize, but is mass-produced in China or Indonesia or wherever materials are cheap and labor is cheaper is simply, by definition, not luxury. It's branded. And the consumer, world-wide, is falling for it. Personally, your MatchGirl, would rather have a quality crafted piece by a lesser known designer, made in the US or Europe somewhere, than a Louis Vuitton bag, crafted in China and sold at the local "high"-end shopping mall. If everyone has one, it's not luxurious, it's mainstream.

For a fashionista on a tight budget, I recommend taking a deep look into your closet at the change of the seasons. Invest money in basics - jeans that fit perfectly; a suit, if your profession calls for it; a great winter jacket/coat; a little black dress; for men, dress shirts that fit well. And when it comes to the trendy or the one time wear, check out the designer collections for Target, go to Forever 21, Old Navy, H&M or Uniqlo (in NYC). Host a clothing swap with your friends and find new favorite pieces that someone else is done with. Hunt through the good Goodwills and Salvation Armies in your city or town. And if there is some pricey something that you absolutely must have, just consider how many times you will wear it, and maybe how sad you will be if you don't add it to your wardrobe. Everyone, even the un(der)employed, deserves a splurge from time to time.

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