September is a big month for fashion and beauty magazines — literally.
    These editions are whoppers, packed with page after page of carefully designed and often provocative advertisements for the latest in fashion and beauty. Sometimes it is not altogether clear just what product is being advertised, but the images are invariably striking. Tucked among all this fashion and beauty commerce are photographs of fall fashions. The fabrics are rich and luxurious, sometimes even exotic, such as reptile skins and bird feathers. Sometimes prices are noted, often in the range of a house payment. If the cost is truly stratospheric, the copy will discreetly note, “Price available upon request.”
    Some of the magazines actually have a bit of editorial content as well.
    After a recent airplane trip involving both layovers and a rental car, I wound up with an armful of September issues, five in all. Just for fun, I plopped them all on the Dicksons’ bathroom scale. They weighed in at a collective and impressive 10.7 pounds. My first thoughts when I saw that number were how many trees died for fashion and how thankful I am that none of the three junior Dicksons weighed that much upon arrival!
    {mosimage}Vogue is the venerable grand dame of fashion mags. The September issue’s cover boasts about its “798 pages of brilliant fall fashion” including “73 wildly romantic dresses for evening, 92 statement-making accessories, 76 clean, lean looks for day,” many draped over the perfect and willowy bodies of either impossibly beautiful or arresting young women, some teenagers. I would be satisfied myself to simply look clean, and, especially, lean every day, but that is a different issue. Inside, you can read about lace dresses, yoga studios in big cities but not in Fayetteville, and the cover story features actress Keira Knightly in many different outfits that are so expensive no prices are listed. There is, however, a strange pair of two-piece, lace-up boots with stiletto heels which will set you back $1,800 plus tax. Editorial contents include a profile of actor Warren Beatty and an interview with author Candace Bushnell of Sex in the City fame. 
    InStyle is the next fattest magazine in my September collection, with 486 pages and actress Uma Thurman on the cover. Few models here, though. Instead the women in gorgeous clothes — most far more wearable than those in Vogue — are movie stars and other entertainers whose wardrobes seem to consist mainly of, as we say in the South, “dress up” and evening clothes. I have heard of some of these young women and have even seen a few of their movies, but others have escaped me entirely. Minka Kelly? Emmanuelle Chriqui? Cassie? Ginnifer Goodwin? In Style has a handy little section about how to put different items of clothing together to wear for different occasions and times of day, but since I doubt many of us have all the pieces needed to complete a “look,” we might find that section a tad frustrating. I was put off by the pocketbooks, albeit good-looking ones, for $1,990 and $2,450 respectively, but I felt better when I found a section called “Deals and Steals” in which most of the items were under $150, something a mother who shopped for a family of five for years finds most appealing. I was unable to find any editorial content not dealing with some aspect of beauty or fashion. 
    More is aimed at women like me — mature. The cover girl is actress Felicity Huffman, 45, and no one featured seems to be under 40. I read about the perfect little black dress, or LBD, and most of the beauty tips, both commercial and otherwise, tend toward anti-aging. It does not have the impressive advertising pages of Vogue and InStyle but does have editorial content clearly geared toward, well, moi. I was engaged by an article on the woman founder of Gymboree, whose business and personal life fell apart, and who at 61, now owns yoga studios. Then there is a piece entitled, “Are Younger Women Trying to Trash Feminism?”, which I plan to read soon. There are even a few recipes and eating tips for those of us in the over 40 set.
    And, finally, one more from my fashion mag stack: Lucky, a 382-page entry into the crowded fashion magazine field I had not encountered, is perhaps the most straightforward. It makes no claims to be anything but what it is: “The magazine about shopping and style.” There are plenty of photos of clothes and accessories and tips on what to wear with what. It is blatantly about consuming, with one feature entitled “what I want NOW!” including a “truly versatile little dress with intriguing sculptured tiers” and some purple satin high heels at a mere $550. 
I come from a family business background, and I like clothes and the rest as much as any other woman. But some of this worshiping at the altar of fashion and beauty is a bit over the top.
    Please tell me I don’t sound like Andy Rooney.

Margaret Dickson,
State Representative and Contributing Writer
COMMENTS? 484-6200 ext. 222 or
To reach her directly, call 919-733-5776 or email [email protected]

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