A month or two ago, I received an issue of SHAPE magazine in the mail. I thought it must have been a free trial issue or something, because I don’t subscribe. Enclosed in the plastic wrapping was a letter from the editor of More magazine (to which I do subscribe). Long story short, More is no more. My lovely More magazine, the first one I’d seen in a long while that wasn’t all about outer beauty and getting a man and getting skinny and frivolous things like that, the magazine that had interviews with and tips for entrepreneurs and great female thinkers, apparently couldn’t get enough similarly minded women to read it.

And my consolation prize was freakin’ SHAPE – a magazine about outer beauty and getting a man and getting skinny and frivolous things like that, thinly veiled as a health publication.

So I rebelled by impulsively clicking on an ad promising a joint subscription to Vogue and Vanity Fair for just $11.

You see, for years I’ve surreptitiously devoured my husband’s magazines–for a while there was Maxim, then Men’s Health (which, it turned out, was almost as disappointing as Women’s Health), and most recently, Esquire. Oh, how I long for an Esquire for women–a magazine with cutting, sometimes scathingly witty writing, and articles about more than just bronzer or the latest superfood. In short, I want a magazine that entertains and challenges me at the same time.

I don’t know if I’ll get that out of Vanity Fair or Vogue. But I do know that I have a brother-in-law who works in fashion and I’d love to be able to have an intelligent conversation with him about it. And I also know that before Hermione Granger came along, Carrie Bradshaw was my spirit animal. And if Vogue was good enough for her, maybe it’ll be good enough for me, too.


Thoughts I Had While Reading Vogue for the First Time
  1. Oh my God. I’m reading Vogue. Is it weird that I’m both excited and embarrassed by that? Embarrassed only because I’ve spent so long trying not to give into the societal demand to be a waif. And now having said that, I want a wafer cookie. Waif-er. (cover)
  2. I love me some Taylor Swift. She is rocking this cover. (cover)
  3. Oh my God I’m turning the pages of my very own Vogue magazine. (pg. 2)
  4. Okay. I should probably try to learn something about fashion while I read this. But so far it’s just ads. A lot of ads. Oh and here are some more ads. Why do they all look like they’re from the 70s? Oh there’s one that looks like it’s from the 80s. (pg. 10)
  5. Oh, Kate Winslet. I’ve loved you ever since I wanted to be you in Titanic. My first experience seeing a curvy girl get the guy (even if he ended up freezing to death). You’re so pretty. I like that we have similarly gold-flecked eyes. (pg. 16)

  6. Hooray! The table of contents! And we only had to wait forty pages to get there. (pg. 41)
  7. And more ads. And there’s a naked Giselle. (pg. 51)
  8. I like that the table of contents is printed on sturdier, thicker paper. Maybe it’s to make it easier to locate within this behemoth of a glossy book. (pg. 61)
  9. Anna Wintour. I just read Anna Wintour’s name. Why am I geeking out about this? I feel special. Dang it, I feel special just by reading this thing. Congratulations, Vogue: You win. (pg. 66)

  10. Ooh, wait–they publish reader tweets and letters? So I could conceivably write to them and have my words and name within the hallowed pages of Vogue? Then I really would be Carrie Bradshaw. (pg. 84)
  11. Wait a minute–what’s this? An essay by a novelist/biographer-turned-sportswriter? And she’s a woman? A woman writing about working in an historically male-dominated field? Is this possible? (pg. 92)
  12. Wow. That was really good. And it was about writing. Is this a sign? (pg. 98)
  13. Oh my goodness–and now another essay by a woman, this time about being a war zone journalist in Syria? When did Vogue become so hard core? (pg. 102)
  14. Okay–this I need more of an explanation on: The model in this ad is wearing florals AND tie-dye AND a multicolor, sort of tribal print. Now, is this something people “in the know” would actually wear, or is it just for advertising purposes … for the “art” of it? I texted previously-mentioned bro-in-law to get his take, but he didn’t get back to me. Punk. (pg. 109)
  15. OMG LOVE THIS SMELL. GIVE ME PEONIES ALL THE TIME. (pg. 111)

  16. What the fitness? Another essay. By a woman. This just gets better and better. And now I know that Vogue can replace those fitness magazines I hate (that is, if this is a typical feature) (pg. 120)
  17. And now I’m a student of Fashion 101. Must study. I love how I get a history lesson along with all of this fashion insider knowledge–who knew that brightly golden jewelry made a resurgence after WWII, when people wanted accessories to match their newly discovered happiness and carefree spirits?! I think I might be geeking out about fashion. This is so cool. (pg. 132-136)
  18. A look at Tilda Swinton’s new movie, from the perspective of the fashion/costuming used. What an interesting angle! I loved her in I Am Love–a beautiful piece of film art. Perhaps I’ll have to see this one, too. (pg. 138)
  19. This is more like the stereotypical Vogue I was expecting: Silver-coated yogawear, designed to block electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and reduce inflammation, plus milk protein (organic, of course!) woven into the fabric. A bit “out there” for me. The tiny bralette is $200, BTW. (pg. 142)

  20. And now we get a little history lesson on perfume. This is amazing. (pg. 154)
  21. We went from perfume to pandemics. An article about the Zika virus, via an interview with one of the doctors (a woman!) who’s treating patients at ground zero in Brazil. It’s pretty scary–kids aren’t in the cards for me, but I can imagine how stressful it would be for women who are thinking about or trying to get pregnant. (pg. 160)
  22. An idyllic English country home? Beautifully decorated with delicious cuisine to boot? I want to go to there. (pg. 170)
  23. What the cigarette ad? Is it 1987? And since when do you have to be 21 to buy cigarettes? I Wikipediaed it and it’s true–more and more cities and states are raising the age to 21. They should just be done with it and make cigarettes illegal, as far as I’m concerned. But legalize dat weed, tho. ‘Cause that makes sense. (pg. 171)
  24. We’ve finally made it: The Taylor Swift Interview. I’m so happy. (pg. 175)

  25. Okay. Now I understand how people find fashion inspiration within the pages of Vogue. I realize how obvious that sounds–it is a fashion magazine, after all–but the outfits (it seems diminutive to call them “outfits”) they put together–the textures, the colors, the fabrics, the angles, the placement–it really is artistic and interesting. It’s what I always loved about Carrie Bradshaw, waiting to see what she’d put together out of that fabulous closet of hers. (pg. 186)
  26. A profile of tap dancing legend Savion Glover. I tapped for about two hours when I was ten or so, mainly because on the days alternate to my dance schedule, my mom and I would go around the corner and grab a slice of pizza while my sister took her turn in dance class. (pg. 210)
  27. Gardens? Greenery? Rich East Hamptons, but still. I always imagine having a garden similar to this one, though more open–I don’t like feeling trapped by plants, though I do like losing myself in them, which I could definitely do here. Horticulturist husband’s reaction? “It’s ok. Lots of boxwoods. And roses. And trimming.” He likes shit to be wild. (pg. 214)
  28. Ooh. Oh dear. WINE. And not just any wine–natural wine. Wild, unfiltered, dirty, unbeknownst-to-me-until-this-very-moment wine. And they used the word “cognoscenti.” I don’t even know what that means. But I want to know. (pg. 222)

  29. Pleats are dangerous, though apparently also trendy. Dangerous on me because the sharp angles of the pleats tend to highlight the curvier locations on me, kind of like those weather maps where they have the lines that make those humps and bumps where the air pressure changes. I do love pleats, though. Two of my favorite dresses of all time have had pleated skirts. Classic and lovely, yet (quite literally) edgy. (pg. 238)

The Verdict

In short: I am in love. I was splendidly surprised at the variety and quality of content; this magazine is so much more than just fashion, though fashion is definitely the common thread (pun intended, as always). I was happy to see relevant news, culture, and lifestyle pieces expertly woven in among glamour and fragrance and style.

This was no simple undertaking; between the reading itself and the pausing to chronicle my thoughts, it took me four separate writing sessions (read: hours and hours) to get through it. I’ve read books more quickly. But it was definitely worth it; I truly enjoyed reading it, learning from it, and getting inspired by it.

That’s exactly what I was looking for.