Glossy Talk: Shiny, happy fashion for all shapes and sizes, declares SHOP Til You Drop; plus size-22 fashionista rocks!
Shape issues are popular but dangerous territory for glossies who are, for the most part, proponents of beauty ideals most women cannot live up to. In the glossy world, regular women are usually cast as the "other", and allocated special space to show off their otherness, usually under headlines like "Real Girls" or safely tucked away at the end of a feature, while skinny bean-poles and celebrities with extra-special looks are celebrated front and centre.
Even the bigger girls fashion is so excited about celebrating right now, like Crystal Renn, are irregular – beautiful women with bountiful breasts equally as unattainable for a naturally small lady as a size-0 figure is for someone more robust. The same goes for the supermodels – killer curves in places where most women bulge or sag or bloat. And would you like a side-serve of cellulite with that?
Fashion magazine SHOP Til You Drop has an advantage over its high-end fashion and general women's magazine counterparts: it doesn't do diet stories (amen to that, you say). If it's slimming you're into, it'll tell you what control underwear to buy. Feel like crap? Buy new shoes! And so to the magazine's 'Fashion for all shapes & sizes' issue, fronted by the lush-lipped Liv Tyler. Editor Justine Cullen has again penned an intro to give readers an insight into her job, and in one swoop of her dexterous hand anticipates every possible argument that could be levelled at SHOP for daring to go where so many other glossies have gone before:
"It's important for me to note that this isn't, and was never intended to be, a plus-size issue. There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which is that it's just about impossible to get clothing samples in larger sizes to photograph (the fashion industry has its own relatively valid explanations for that), but mostly because true 'plus-size' is just as alienating for the majority of us as size 0. The truth is that most women in Australia – most SHOP readers – aren't plus-sized at all. They're 12s and 14s. Average. Not particularly big, not particularly small – just a (mostly) happy medium. So, while in this issue you'll find some bigger and some smaller sizes, we've made sure that we've also shot a while heap of girls sized somewhere in the middle...
I admit that between runway shots and those teeny-tiny Hollywood celebrities, the pages of SHOP do tend to have more to offer our skinnier sisters in the way of visual inspiration, so in this issue we've countered that with a few stories about the other girls whose shapes we're admiring right now... We've avoided runway shots as much as we possible can because the catwalks are mostly skewed towards the very skinny and we couldn't balance them out with bodies at the other end of the spectrum... and we've included loads of tips on where and how best to shop for your body – be it curvy, petite, tall, short, booby, bootylicious or even pregnant."
So does she get it right? For the most part, SHOP's following the formula: the obligatory story on the curvy trend (cue Crystal Renn, Christina Hendricks and Beth Dittor), another on the designer dresses that defy body stereotyping(Roland Mouret's Galaxy, Victoria Beckham's Peplum, Herve Leger's Bandage, the Preen Power dress), models of various sizes (up to a 14, I imagine) in trendy fashion, a catwalk shot from Mark Fast's spring/summer '10 show for 'Runway Inspiration', features covering clothing sizes (handy charts, included), tips for feeling confident in your clothes and women telling us how they shop to suit their bodies...
But there are a few surprise editorial gems that stand out, because they either demonstrate women's passion for fashion without getting wrapped up in body politics or are just good fun. Getting a glimpse at the full SHOP team (they look like itty-bitty dolls. Mum, can I have one?) is a little treat for devoted readers – who doesn't like to see the girls behind their mag? Clearly, there are certain aesthetic requirements to be met if you plan on being a new hire. I'd like to see the girls featured more often – telling us what they're actually buying/wearing/doing – in their cute office outfits: why not share beyond the halls at ACP?
I really enjoyed 'Fashion Flashback', a personal sartorial time-line which runs across the bottom of the 'Inside My Wardrobe' spread (this month featuring Oroton creative director Ana Maria Escobar). Author/journalist Wendy Squires reveals what she wore when she edited Cleo ("mainly floral-print day dresses, sequinned cardigans and gorgeous '60s silk sheaths") and also while working on a serious glossy fashion mag (Squires also worked on Australian Style and Elle, but here she refers to Madison): "I discover designers like Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Prada, Marni and Miu Miu and buy, buy, buy. I also discover credit-card debt and rue the fact I spend a house deposit on uncomfy shoes. I also realise buying for a label's merit is ridiculous...".
The 'Lifestyle' section is a body safe-haven, except for deers, who have their heads affixed to a wall. Not to worry, animal lovers; they are all fake! Feet get cosy in slippers, cushions and hot-water-bottle covers get cute and slow-cookers are the must-have for winter. The beauty section ventures into the powder room, a woman's nether regions (Amy Starr suggests having a lady-garden is anti-ageing as you get older) and the world of cult products with waiting lists (watch your lady-garden grow as you wait on your It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer).
But the best piece in the whole issue? Megan Moir Pardy writing about being a size-22 fashionista. Apparently this girl has been working for magazines like Harper's BAZAAR and Grazia for 10 years, though I can't find her name on either masthead. Anyway, she should be writing for them, regularly. Such is her exuberance. Girl ADORES fashion and it seeps from her pores and prose – I haven't read anything this entertaining in yonks. To wit:
- "I don't want to shop-assistant bash but I've had some baad experiences. Like walking into a store and getting eye-murdered by a 15-year-old sales assistant in a size 0."
- "So what is out there when it comes to true plus sizes? Ugh, well, there's a whole lot of jersey. Seriously, death to jersey! I hate, hate, hate jersey but it seems to be all that most plus-size designers can think of using. That, and leopard-print wrap-dresses. Just because I'm big doesn't mean I want to look like a 49-year-old cougar, okay?" (Coincidentally, one of the fashion spreads has a lot of leopard print action).
- "People are big for a bunch of different reasons and you should so not punish yourself by giving up and looking rubbish. If you don't dress well, you just end up feeling a lot worse."
I think there's some lessons in there for all girls (and I am definitely using the 'eye-murder' term in a sentence soon)! The story comes with a 'Megan's Little Black Book' panel and opposite an ad for DreamDiva.com.au. You can follow the evolution of Megan's own fashion line at damnyoualexis.blogspot.com.
Lovely looking models of varying shapes, pretty clothes (I want all the outfits in '8 style ideas that make every girl look amazing') and fashion insider tips are all well and good, but it's the pages with personality that pack a punch. While its high-fashion counterparts are busy wallowing in stories generally lamenting the state of the female condition, or fixating on whipping body parts into shape so their readers can fit into designer gear, SHOP gets to have all the fun. Shopping, fun? Well, I never...!
Glossy rating: 4/5
Blosses: Justine Cullen; ACP Magazines
Glossy stats: June 2010, 204 pages, $8.20
Glossy ads: Avon, Wish, Clinique, Almay, Ugg, Guess, Rimmel London, L'Oreal, Vera Wang Princess, Pandora, Vibe Hotels
Girl With a Satchel