Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Pecking Order of Magazines

I really don't subscribe to every magazine. There are the six fashion magazines of course. And the five shelter/food publications. And five quasi-intellectual journals (ok Vanity Fair is one). But I'm a magazine gal, always have been. I still have the magazine I invented, edited, designed and produced (one copy) for that girl scout author badge. I took French in high school specifically so I could read French Elle, which was then a weekly and available at Schroeder's foreign press newsstand for $5.00 ($39 in today's money). I once took an overnight boat trip from Provincetown (where I was working that summer) to Boston to pick up the new copy of Vogue Knitting (true story). And what's the first thing I do in an airport? Go to the newsstand.

You won't catch me sitting around Barnes & Noble with a latte and the latest issues either. If it looks interesting, I'll subscribe. Part of that is to support the industry that fed me and allowed me to breathe its magic those many years. I know magazines lose money every time they have to shell out the price of sending you the issue. I also know they want you as a subscriber to boost their circulation to support the going rate of their ads. I feel that's a win-win situation.

It occurred to me recently I have a fairly ingrained habit as to the pecking order I read the fashion magazines. First of all, I hate reading the November issue in October. I try to read them during the month they are dated. Lucky arrives for the next month fully three weeks early. So that's hard because Lucky is one of my favorite magazines. Nevertheless, I try to wait. Here is how it rolls and why:

1) Harper's Bazaar
I really like Harper's Bazaar. I feel they get short shrift next to the behemoth that is Vogue, but they give the reader what she wants— a lot of fashion. I particularly enjoy the "What to Wear at Every Age" feature. Reading Harper's Bazaar first is like the appetizer to the month's lineup of magazines.

2) Lucky
I usually can't wait any longer. I do think the magazine has lost some zip since the departure of Kim France as editor. I always liked knowing that Kim cut her fashion chops at the Galleria while growing up here in Houston.

3) Marie Claire
I loved Marie Claire when it first came out in America in the '90s as it had a broad age appeal, a good mix of stories aimed towards women and a true international feel. It sagged for a while. Since luring Nina Garcia from Elle to be their fashion editor Marie Claire has its mojo back (but is guilty of showing the most pie-in-the-sky priced goods).

4) Elle
Elle also waxes and wanes in my opinion but right now is chugging along as something like Vogue and Bazaar's younger, hip sister.

5) In Style
Too many celebrities! Ok too many celebrities I never heard of. But they still know how to have fun with fashion, and you sure get your money's worth in heft.

6) Vogue
Ah! Who doesn't save the best for last? This is dessert. Perhaps because I've been reading Vogue since I was ten (and it was a bi-monthly), it's part of my aspirational dream life to be sophisticated, classy, stylish and—well—rich. I once read that the average Vogue reader was a 28-year-old, single, working woman. I wish I didn't know that.

You may notice there is no Ladies Home Journal, More, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan or Redbook on my list. If you know me well, you may wonder why there is no Glamour. I worked at Glamour for 23 years. I was such a fan before joining the staff that I knew everything and everyone who had been in the magazine the previous ten years. But the Glamour of today is not the Glamour I knew and loved. I wish them well, but in this case you can't read home again.


  1. What do you do with the magazines after you've read them? Do you "archive" them? Do you tear out pages? Do you just throw them out or pass them on somehow? Because like clothes we no longer want to wear, they do pile up, much to the dismay of the spouse (in my case)....

  2. After I tear out a few "inspiration" pages and add them to the collage inside my closet door, I pass them on, either to the break room at work, the manicurist or my young neighbor (who sees how many I get and asked if I could "recycle" them to her). I do archive Issue 1 Number 1 of anything new. Oh, and I've spent more than I care to admit (and 11 years) re-buying every Glamour from 1956-1961. Reading them again is like an afternoon with an old friend! What about you?

  3. michelle- i know you saved the french bible of the 1970's -100 idees ( cent idees) and you should confess that you have an archive of OLD Glamours from before you/we worked there ( confession- we are old pals).
    hope you write about working at Glamour one of these days.