Lucky: You Only Need a Small Fortune to be Stylish

It’s no secret that fashion magazines consistently demonstrate a less-than-realistic relationship between money and fashion. Clothes as “investment pieces,” anyone? But the February issue of Lucky takes the class war cognitive dissonance to new lows, starting right on the cover. Take a look at the top left and top right cover lines:

Zoe Saldana, Lucky, February 2014

So cover model Zoe Saldana won’t specify a minimum budget for class, but Lucky sure will. And $500? I don’t know what Conde Nast is paying their editors these days, but bulletin to 4 Times Square: that is a whole lot of money. Sure, there are plenty of people in the world who can drop that kind of cash on their clothes, and after today I might try to figure out how to be one of them! But framing $500 like it’s the bare minimum to be well-dressed is a calculated move to perpetuate the value of luxury brands and their sweet, sweet advertising dollars, and worse, it’s a blatant lie.

Nonetheless, let’s take a look inside! Check out page 47, where the mag fawns over the “surprisingly affordable” line Clover Canyon. A clothing line inspired by the design work of John Lautner and Charles and Ray Eames? Sure, I’m in. Let’s take a look at the fine print and…insert record-scratch noise here. This is what Lucky deems “surprisingly affordable”: a $185 crop top, a $206 sweatshirt, a $237 blouse, and pants for the low, low price of $295. Were these clothes actually made by long-dead Lautner and the Eameses? Because unless they were handcrafted via a portal from the spirit world, there’s no way these are accessibly priced, let alone “surprisingly” so. Ghost labor is super expensive, you guys.

Later, on page 87, stylist Catherine Newell-Hanson declares, “The fact that such beautifully cut, just-right pieces all exist within this price point is concrete proof that looking put-together does not require a huge budget.” [emphasis mine] Within this price point? Like, what does this woman think 99% of the world does for clothing? Quick! Let me cover myself with the $495 fur scarf on page 88!

But probably the worst part of this whole issue—I mean, other than the astoundingly privileged premise that it’s possible to clothe yourself even if you’re only a little bit rich—is that Lucky included one item in the issue that, at $1,450, is nearly three times the $500 price limit.

This was no oversight. See, the item in question, a tiny $1,450 metallic Chanel bag, was included intentionally. The model on page 89 is sporting it as a necklace—because, you know, why should an accessory that costs as much as your rent be functional? In her editor’s letter, Eva Chen quotes the fashion editor who found the bag: “The price is irrelevant, because it’s the best bag ever.” Good news, everyone! If you find something you love, the PRICE IS IRRELEVANT. Great advice, Lucky. That attitude is only a) a fast track to financial ruin and b) a fundamental misunderstanding about how bank accounts, credit limits, and the retail industry work. Yay!

Anyway, Chen goes on about how this bag is so versatile it could be worn constantly and it’s the greatest thing ever and basically it cures cancer and ends racism, and then quotes the fashion editor again: “Every woman needs a little Chanel in her life. Chanel is the dream.”

So $500 is the baseline, and Chanel—whatever it costs—is the dream. Just like that, the unaffordability bar has been raised! How much does perspective cost? I hope it’s under $500, because Lucky needs a closet full of it.

3 thoughts on “Lucky: You Only Need a Small Fortune to be Stylish

  1. This is a very relevant commentary, especially in light of the lack of jobs in the United States and the disappearing or non-existent middle class. Lucky Magazine’s editors have shot themselves in the foot. I don’t think this kind of marketing works anymore — unless their goal is to induce nausea. I mean, did they have to be such sell outs to these brands that most working Americans can’t afford? They clearly meant to persuade their readers with expressions like “the price is irrelevant.” Irrelevant to whom? Not to their readers whom they have grossly alienated.

    • That’s a great point. Magazine fashions are supposed to be aspirational and, to some extent unobtainable, but framing a $500 item as affordable instead of a luxury is downright insensitive.

  2. I was happy to see both that there was another post on this website and that this issue was the target. You know an issue has truly hit rock bottom when Glossed Over is even giving Jean Godfrey-June a pass for this particular month. Still, I believe she should not get off scot-free from the usual mockery. First there was her anecdote in “The Beauty Closet” about her attending some L’Oreal-new-mascara-product-unveiling event at an artist’s studio that apparently turned out to be filled with dozens of birds, not all of which were being kept in their cages. I was about as underwhelmed as I expect to be by anything in her column, until I got to the part when she described “the biggest” of the birds that “loomed and hopped and bobbed in a way that was either disarmingly cute or terrifyingly menacing.” I mostly just like the idea of JGJ and a bunch of beauty writers running around freaking out that some giant, “terrifyingly menacing” bird is going to drop a terrifyingly menacing deuce on their heads at any minute. L’Oreal, quit trying to sell us all these different mascaras and instead develop a hair product for THAT situation.

    Also hilarious was her finishing the column with a paean to $98 BLUE FACE CREAM. Face cream. That is $98. And also BLUE. Somewhere, in my mind, Jean Godfrey-June is running around her house in her $98 face cream looking like Tracy’s Blue Man hallucination in 30 Rock and it is awesome. You know she would totally convince Jenna Maroney to buy a case of the stuff. And, hey, it IS under $500. We women and our wretchedly aging faces can’t afford NOT to buy it!

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