For most of us, looking at fashion magazines and thinking about how to apply what they show and talk about to our own style is more likely to drain confidence than build it.
Unsurprisingly, I read a lot of fashion mags. But I don’t read them to keep up with the latest advice on how to dress. I read them for the artistic direction and some interesting (and not necessarily fashion-related) articles. For me fashion, magazines are a way of taking the boredom out of air travel, hair colouring and dentists’ waiting rooms.
Magazines are now much more about fashion stylists doing artistic photo-shoots, and journalists wanting to be seen to be trendy, than about showing clothes that the average woman can wear. They are also advertising vehicles and shy away from exclusive clothes or expensive ones unless they are from companies who advertise.
None of which is unreasonable – it’s just business. But as a result, one of the most common concerns I hear from clients is that reading fashion magazines makes them feel old and out-of-date as they can’t imagine themselves in the clothes that are shown – even in features aimed at working wardrobes. The opposite of helping build style confidence.
The US magazines tend to have a better approach to showing wearable clothes; and if I could have only one magazine I think it would be American Harpers Bazaar.
One thing magazines are very good at is picking up on new cosmetic products. I’ve discovered many of the products I use and have recommended in Confidence Tricks in the pages of magazines. I also think that magazines often provide very good ideas for accessorising your outfit – although shoes that look good in photo shoots may not be ones you could walk to the office in.
So my advice with magazines is to enjoy the art and the stories; pick up the nuggets of information on cosmetics and accessories; but don’t let the lack of clothes you feel you could wear make you feel unconfident in your style.
Trust me, it’s not you, it’s them.