Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Case for a Good Weekend, Part 2: Newsstand Round-up

I'm a huge magazine fiend, and it always makes my heart happy whenever I see the latest issues of my favorite fashion and style magazines on the news stands. And by “news stand,” I don't always mean the stacks right in front of the checkout counter next to the tabloids and the news weeklies, but the huge aisle in the middle of the store devoted to the glossies.

This weekend was no exception, because the September issues have started coming into the stores announcing the transition between the “summer” and “fall” seasons. Of course, this usually means nothing to me since I've lived in the tropics all my life - which makes the concept of “fall” quite moot - but it doesn't dampen my enjoyment from looking at earthier colors and modest clothes, which makes more sense to me personally than the screaming brights and skimpy layers of the summer.

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, I purchased the September issue of Lucky at Wal-Mart. Ever since I discovered the Wal-Mart edition of Lucky I haven't been able to read or buy my fashion magazines the same way; if the Wal-Mart edition doesn't excite me, there's no point for me to buy that issue at another store. (It's actually more effective for me than just looking at the cover model.) Anyway, this month's edition has some of the crucial elements at work - a cover model (Rachel Bilson) that doesn't make me puke, droolworthy fashion choices (mmm, Fall Shoe Issue) and, of course, the Wal-Mart section, which includes recommendations on pretty flower vases, sexy underwear, and pop-art notebooks. It's not completely perfect, though. The Fall Style Handbook is full of fugly fashion choices involving short cover-ups, vests, and - get this - turtlenecks under chiffon dresses. (Did the stylists for this issue raid my wardrobe back in 10th grade?) The shoe section still gives props to pointy flats and - oh, the humanity - cowboy boots, meant to be worn with flirty dresses. (Just... no.) And I'm not even going to get started on the whole cropped-pants-with-tall-boots thing, or the insect-inspired designs. Still, I have to admit that at least I'm getting inspired by the retro '40s and '70s-inspired looks, and I'm now more motivated to knit my own hats.

Upon second reading, the new issue of Domino isn't as bad as I thought - it wasn't as annoying as I thought it would be, and some of the featured interior design ideas still followed the whole easygoing loft-chic vibe. Still, I passed it up in favor of Living 101, a "Special issue" spin-off of Sunset geared towards the same reading audience as Lucky and Domino. (Check your nearest Safeway for issues; it's only available until the end of September.) Personally, I'm surprised by how good this special-issue magazine is, and not because I'm also a fan of Sunset - in fact, I admit that it's easier for me to relate to the West Coast aesthetic than to the Manhattan/ New England/ Hamptons fabulousness espoused by Domino and other home-related magazines. While the appeal of Living 101 is blatantly obvious - ripping off fonts from Lucky, headlines promising an O.C.-inspired beach barbecue - it's also amazingly practical when it comes to the home ideas and recipes, with tips on crafting and housekeeping (as opposed to being fixated on interior decorators, which was another thing that annoyed me about this month's Domino) and features on affordable yet hip travel options for San Francisco and Las Vegas. Plus the recipes are classic Sunset - practical and easily adjustable to any budget or taste. Now if only Sunset would do a Generation X version of the Idea House...

Other magazine-related notes:

- Man, was this the month of the Ugly Cover Model or what? I really want to like Shop, Etc., but if they keep on putting those emaciated no-name haole women on their covers, I won't be motivated to buy their magazine at all. Elle also turned me off this month with that horrendous cover shot of Jennifer Lopez looking like a badly-dressed (not to mention heinously coiffed and made-up) extra from Dynasty.

- Madonna on the cover of Vogue: as convincing as Madonna on the cover of Good Housekeeping. Which is to say, not very.

- I have only four words to say about this month's issue of Shape: Shut up, Elizabeth Hurley.

- Also: Shut up, O at Home. I usually like Oprah Winfrey, and her magazine isn't bad (in fact, this month's O is pretty damn inspiring) but something about the home magazine spin-off rubs me the wrong way. Seriously, between Tom Cruise, the car give-away, and the regular monthly cover photos for O, do we need any more proof that Oprah has taken a break from reality as we know it?

- And, because it bears much repeating: Would it kill anyone in the magazine industry to have a magazine cover that does not involve Jessica Simpson or Jennifer Aniston? I'm actually beginning to miss seeing Paris Hilton's ugly mug all over the place - that's how sick I am of the whole deal.

- Esquire Best-Dressed Issue:Yay to Josh Lucas and Luke Wilson on the cover. (Mmmm.) Yay to most of the guys on the Best-Dressed List (though, really, I would rather have Peter Sarsgaard and Andre 3000 in there rather than, say, Matt Lauer). And definite yes to that cute Honolulu doctor. (Now if only Cosmo would follow their lead and choose a hot bachelor from Hawaii who has an actual day job other than "surfer.") Still didn't end up in my shopping cart, though.

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