Lucky Magazine: Getting Disappointed

There are some pretty simple things about me most people know. One of those is that I love fashion– clothes, shoes, purses, hair, makeup, jewelry. It’s all really fun for me. It’s kind of unusual because growing up, I just can’t remember my mother putting much emphasis on fashion. In a way, I sort of remember a de-emphasis. To this day, while my mom certainly enjoys looking pretty for special occassions and such things, she is not a fashion person. In other words, while my mom will certainly leaf through Woman’s Day and Bon Appetit and have great fun, Vogue would be a last resort. I’m pretty sure this is mostly due to the price tags in Vogue. My mom is not one to spend much on herself so she applies the tunnel-vision rule and sticks to her four reliable sources of wearable clothes at good prices: Loehmann’s (her current favorite), TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Ross. That’s pretty much it for clothes shopping as far as she’s concerned and, don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with that. I love those stores myself actually. The thing is, if it’s not in those stores, my mom automatically dismisses it. Remind me to tell you the story of the sneakers and Target another day to drive home my point. Back on track though. My mom’s not one to get manicures. She’s never had a pedicure. She is quite religious about her hair and gets it cut and highlighted regularly. It helps one of her good friends is her hair stylist. It’s almost as if my mom’s sense of style and thoughts on fashion are middle of the road, just look normal. 

So, somehow I’ve evolved into this person that I am today. I am not in any way addicted to fashion. I am not a slave to trends. I believe a person’s clothes have a direct relation to the way they feel, act, and others interact with them. When I put a little more thought or care into an outfit, I feel better because people react more positively. Is it a sad commentary on society that your appearance can have such an effect on so much? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think there’s a difference between looking “beautiful” in a commercial sense and looking good on a day to day basis. Any one (any size, shape, color, etc.) can look good as far as I’m concerned. They can look put-together, polished, professional, etc. And that’s what I mean. 

So, I enjoy fashion and I enjoy these fun tools that are out there for us to use every day. I think every day, you get to choose a character when you dress. I think every day you get to choose a message you’re going to project and what you wear is the main way to do it because what you wear affects the way you carry yourself. Anyhow, for the longest time and even now despite the rest of what I’m going to say, Lucky Magazine has been one of my favorite magazines. I always felt they viewed fashion the same way I did– a tool. Let Vogue handle fashion as art. Lucky for me is the every day every woman magazine.

Or maybe it used to be.

For months now, I’ve been slightly frustrated with the magazine. Although the presentation of content has very much remained the same (a very deconstructed approach to fashion), the content they are presenting has, to me, gone up and up into the stratosphere price-wise. I used to feel they were pretty balanced and admired them for easily mixing pieces of various price points so that I had a good chance of finding something on a spread that I not only thought was cute but affordable. These days, Lucky maintains the cute factor, but not so much the affordability. So I’m wondering if the magazine is getting a bit lazy? Is it just easier to piece together expensive items? I actually sat down and crunched numbers on the May 2008 issue on stands now. 

On the cover, the magazine boasts the following articles:

Your Ultimate Hair Guide
Free! Shopping sprees, vacations, and more… Lucky Breaks
36 look-your-best swimsuits
How to get the sexiest glow
798 incredible finds
A month’s worth of foolproof outfits: Our handbook for getting the most out of your wardrobe
Ali Larter: Secrets to her gorgeous California girl look

Now there are a few key words on that cover that make me feel as if the magazine is targeting an average person like myself. For instance, the giant Free! and the tagline about getting the most out of my wardrobe and for me the 798 incredible finds. Incredible finds is an interesting one. Highly subjective. For me, an incredible find is incredible not only because it’s great-looking but because the price is definitely right. See, the heart of this issue, I think, is that as far as I’m concerned, rich people pulling together great outfits is nothing impressive. Anyone with money can look fashionable. I’m actually more impressed when they look atrocious (‘wow all that money and you look god awful. how’d you do that?’). So, I wondered if maybe I’m getting jaded or if there really is something to this impression that I have that Lucky is getting up on the pricey end even as our economy crumbles. Well check out some of these results and decide for yourself.

Ali Larter’s secrets to her “gorgeous California-girl look” must be directly linked to the fat sums of money Heroes is raking in. The cover outfit is $11,707.00 and does not include shoes. It is also worth mentioning she is later photographed in the most expensive piece of jewelry in the entire magazine coming in at $15,000.00 and also claims two pieces of jewelry as favorites that are the second and third most expensive in the entire issue ($5400 and $5000 respectively). Ok fine. She’s an actress and the cover look. We’ll dismiss that whole packet as craziness and an oddity (and further proof that looking good when you’re rich is the easy thing to do). So let’s keep looking through here.

There’s a section in the magazine called lucky how-to: Your source for figure fixes, smart finds, and styling tips. There are seven outfits in the section.The cheapest is $463.00 and does not include a purse. The most expensive outfit is $1,146.00 and also lacks a purse. Plus it’s a dress so hopefully you can fit everything you need into your bra (price also not included). The average price of an outfit in that section is $796.43. This is where I’m torn. Compared to Vogue, this is a bargain. But for average income earning mother of two (and one on the way), this is stratospheric. 

The magazine glides over some additional stuff including a section on lightweight cardigans with a decent range in prices– there’s a $220 sweater next to a $37 sweater next to a $48 sweater next to a $242 sweater. I find all of them cute except the $37 one. The next stop is a section on the Shoes of the Month: low wedges. Springy, summery, flirty, and casual I get kind of excited here. Until I start checking the prices of my favorites ($95 and $145- both out of my comfort zone for a shoe that’s highly seasonal and highly trendy being a wedge and not to mention highly casual). Turns out, I came in cheap on that section.The most expensive pair of low wedges are $1040 and the most affordable are $30. The average pair of low wedges in the spread is… $216.06. And I was feeling like a cheap bastard before!

Moving on, we come to a section called Basics. They take a basic look for the season and give you 8 different outfits. Again, this is one of the things about Lucky that I love. They deconstruct things in a way that almost guarantees you’ll “get it”. If you watch What Not to Wear, this is like Stacy and Clinton’s rules but much more specific and with more examples. They, after all, only give one example of each of their basics. May’s basic look: Spring Prep. Agreed. Preppy is almost always a win in the spring. I can do preppy. I can even see some of these outfits working at the office. I’m in. And then those prices start up again. None of the eight outfits include a purse or jewelry. Are preppy people anti-accessories because that’s a serious problem for me… The least expensive Spring Prep outfit hits you at $420 and the most expensive one more than twice that at $872. The average Spring Prep outfit rings up at $604.13 (before taxes, gulp). 

So far, this is not looking too great for me. The problem becomes that all of these big price tags become discouraging. Throwing one “cheap” item among twelve is just not going to cut it!! But let’s keep going because I really do love looking at clothes dammit and I believe I am the perfect Lucky magazine reader, right?

Next: Four Girls, One… checked tunic. Here they take a key piece and build four very different looks around it. Again, great concept. Versatility! Hurray! The central piece is a checked tunic that costs $68. It’s kind of a deflating article to me because the tunic looks ugly to me (like a picnic blanket with straps). The cheapest outfit is $398 and it INCLUDES A PURSE. it also features a very ugly denim dress and reminds me very much of a classy farmer’s daughter kind of thing and by classy I mean “classy”  so…. The most expensive outfit is $1850 which is by far more offensive than the cheapest outfit because this one looks like a hippy. A broke one. Who bought the picnic blanket at goodwill. It also features a purse but an ugly purse. In case you’re still interested in wearing a picnic table with straps as your key piece, the average price of an outfit is going to be $1005.75 but the good news is, you’ll most likely have a purse because three of the four outfits have one. 

Quickly flying past the checked tunic fiasco, and several ads, we get to the next section of the magazine where it gives us a short blurb on some fabulous lady and an outfit she has deemed “my foolproof outfit” which puzzles me because it seems slightly ridiculous to me (pick a winner: shiny giant buttons on your very high waisted pants or a belt but I don’t like the two together) but her accessories are pretty rad. One foolproof outfit will cost you $1,605.00. 

They then talk about Ali Larter and her very expensive California-girl taste and we reach their beauty section. It’s another weird experience here because I really do love beauty products. Oh, the addiction. And the best thing is that those are usually pretty easy on wallets and make great little splurges. So let’s break it down. The first feature is cherry-punch lips which has me salivating. I want all of the products on there because the colors are gorgeous and I have had a love affair with red lips for a long, long time now and these are all just PERFECT REDS. Seven beautiful red lipsticks, pencils, glosses, stains. One of them is $32. It has gold flakes in it. It’s also the most expensive. The cheapest choice is a $6 pot of lip glaze that I can’t help but think must be messy to put on because I really hate dipping my finger into lip glosses and funny enough the $32 one is also a messy pot. Either way, the average price for a great cherry-punch set of lips is $19.86 and so I rejoice over the mark products because although I do enjoy the rare indulgence of a Dior or Chanel lipgloss, beauty products are my favorite impulse buys. I’d like to aim for half the average.

Next, they claim to fight over a $30 compact that includes 3 lip glosses, 3 face highlighters, an eyeliner, and a wand. I’m not impressed. After that, there’s a profile of four perfumes and to me, this is where Lucky gets it right. Four fragrances in the same family and the average price is $73.25 which finally sounds reasonable and do-able. At this point, I get tired of picking apart the magazine and skip over some insider’s picks, neon lipsticks, and get to a section on wrinkle creams. 8 different creams are put forth as “high-octane concotions” that “make a serious difference.” It’ll also make a serious impact on your account with an average price of $106.63. Frustrated again I skip around some more and find a section on foot cream. Mmmmm, foot cream. Five different varieties, and the average cost there is $17 which seems high to me again but I’m not a foot cream expert. I skip around again because adding up all of these beauty products (who needs them, anyways– MARK!) and they get to some section on hair and I keep leafing through and get to The Best Swimsuits of the Season. Nine different styles each have four examples. I live in Miami. Swimsuits are important here because you actually use them for more than just lying in the sun. You do things like swim in pools and lie in the sand and stuff. So, I always take a good look at swimsuits. And I took a good look at these and said something along the lines of “WHAT THE HELL” and got frustrated with Lucky all over again. Want a classic halter bikini? Average price is $121.75. Maybe you like those side-tie bikinis. Average price there is $178.50. How about a bold geometric one-piece? Average price for those is $259. Maybe a funky abstract maillot then. Average of $210.25 for those. An exotic ethnic print bikini costs an average of $163.50. A super classy retro high-waist bikini is an average of $236.75. Knit bikini average is $322.75. Ruffled bikinis are an average of $277.75 and bright bandeaus average out to $132.25. So in a collection of 36 “must-have” swimsuits, the average price came to $211.39. I have never spent over $50 on a swimsuit. How the heck does this spread make any sense? 

Ok more stuff to look at. Ah yes, the month of outfits. If you’re interested in putting together 30 outfits out of 43 items, you’ll have to get together a whopping $13,920 which is about $464 an outfit. This is where I think I might finally be justified. On What Not to Wear, they give a $5,000 shopping spree in New York. An entire wardrobe for $5,000.00 and they don’t go to the Marshalls, Rosses, and TJ Maxxes of NYC that I can tell. The examples go on and on. I have more numbers. Just not much more time. So let me give you these last few averages.

While Lucky has a $20 pair of shoes in the magazine, the average pair is $230.31 (again, way more expensive than anything I’ve bought). And although they also score that $20 purse I mentioned earlier, the average purse is a whopping $448.36 (more in line with the every once in a blue moon my husband lost his mind and bought me something close to that price range than what I realistcally and readily spend on purses). AND even though they have a $6 pair of earrings, and I removed the three most expensive pieces of jewelry in the issue, the average piece of jewelry in Lucky costs $305.05 . 

I really wish they’d rethink the magazine on that front. They’re on point with the presentation but I really think it’s like they’re cheating and just throwing on whatever Vogue has in its “bargains” bin. They need to be more creative or maybe more thorough in their research. After a while those prices really wear on you and just bring you down. The mentality “all the good stuff is just too expensive so why bother” becomes harder to avoid. 

Enough typing already. I’m going to post this now, and I’ll have to smooth this out some. I realize it’s very long so if you actually made it this far, thanks.

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