fashion magazines for the rest of us…?

vintage vogue cover
Today I have the pleasure of cross-posting with Tish Jett, author of the fabulous book Forever Chic, the blog A Femme d’un Certain Age and (thanks to the power of the internet to bring people together), a dear friend for the last several years. One of our mutual readers, Cece has posed a question to the two of us, and we’re both answering today.
Hello Susan and Tish,
…I am wondering if either of you could recommend a fashion magazine, French or American, or otherwise, that is consistent with both your fashion styles…
I do love the chance to curl up with a nice glossy magazine and a glass of wine.
Unfortunately, most of the fashion magazines focus on one or more of the following:
  1. High-fashion straight from the runway –unfortunately I would require a detailed road map to see how I could get from runway fashions to what would actually work for me.
  1. Fashion designed for those under 30 – enough said.
  1. What I call an “assault to the senses,”  bright colors, loud patterns, etc.
 I love Ines de la Fressange’s Parisian Chic book, in part because she has her daughter model her recommended wardrobe pieces, and despite the fact that she is so young, I could wear all the same clothes (at 57).
So, any suggestions? ….
Thanks again to you both for all you do.
Cecilia (Cece) 


Hi Cece, thank you so much for reading and your nice note! I think you’ve spotlighted the problems that so many of us have with fashion magazines when we’re looking for useful day-to-day wardrobe ideas. I think that’s one of the main reasons that style blogs and websites have really taken off in recent years; they are filling a niche that’s not addressed by the glossies. I still enjoy perusing the occasional Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar just for the eye-candy factor, but rarely see an outfit or styling that I’d try to emulate.

But there are a few magazines where I sometimes can glean nuggets of real-world inspiration amongst all of the visual noise or articles that are not of interest to me.

One is MORE (tagline: For Women of Style and Substance). While fashion is not the predominant theme, I do like that they don’t dumb down the style articles, or presume that women in our demographic are looking to fade into the woodwork. While like many fashion magazines, there is a focus on designer goods, there are also some broader ideas presented that can translate to any budget.

Another publication that I pick up almost every month is InStyle. Yes, there’s far too much celebrity focus for my taste, and I skip over a majority of the articles, but I do sometimes find some styling ideas that can translate to my wardrobe, or make me think about using pieces in different ways or different combinations.

While I don’t buy it often, I have occasionally found some good ideas and recommendations in Real Simple. I think their clothing articles and ideas appeal most to those of us who prefer a simple, classic framework.

For the most part, I’m getting inspiration these days from online sources: blogs, Pinterest, and even online retailers websites (especially Net-a-Porter... I often get styling ideas for my wardrobe from how they put a look together).

Cece, I hope this helps! I think a lot of magazines are struggling financially right now, and are increasingly cutting back on content. Readers, if you have other recommendations, please let us know in comments.

Pop over to Tish’s blog, where she’s tacked this subject with her usual professionalism, panache and style!

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  1. Brilliant analysis. I so love working with you. And, who could have imagined how we met and became such good friends? Lucky me! xo

  2. I so agree with Cece. I used to be a magazine junkie. Now I am often disappointed when I buy many of the main ones. Too many glossy ads all the same. I love the french one Femme Majuscule mentioned by Tish in her post. I always buy it when I am in France. In the Uk we have two that cater for our market Woman & Home and Good Housekeeping but they are not that inspiring. I much prefer to follow the ever growing group of mature bloggers. Real clothes worn by real women. Yours needless to say is up there with the best.

  3. Good recommendations, although I admit I don’t buy a single magazine anymore! I do read More and InStyle and Vogue at the pedicure parlor. And online has so many opportunities – have you tried The Women’s Room site? xo


  4. I’m still hanging in there with the fashion magazines. I’ve always loved Vogue and it’s still my favourite. I’m a bit addicted to fashion lay-outs, mostly for the creative and often ironic pairing of clothes, hair, and settings. I don’t expect to interpret the combinations literally, although sometimes they give me ideas. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about about I called “Fashion Hyperbole” …fashion extremes, that to me looked ridiculous. Funnily enough one of the street style photos I used with a woman walking in tottering platforms and what looked like men’s striped dress socks came right off the pages of Vogue. Still…I use on-line sources for most of my inspiration. Blogs like yours. And Netaporter has been my go-to for combination ideas…what can I wear with a this style of jeans etc… for years. Great post Sue. As always:)

  5. I’ve long since abandoned Vogue and InStyle. The latter does have some good styling and organizational ideas, but all the celebrity blather cancels it out for me. I do read two magazines on a regular basis, though: Bazaar UK (which I prefer to the US edition) and Porter, which comes out six times a year.

    I love seeing “real people” put looks together, though. The best source for that for me is online. Blogs all the way! I visit you daily.

  6. What I dislike about many fashion designers and magazines is how the models have to stand hunched over with arms akimbo in order for the clothes to hang properly. If someone at my weight & a foot taller can’t wear it, how do the designers expect me to wear it?
    I’m pretty sure most clothing is made by people who don’t actually like females.
    I am also finding my style cues online through pintrest & a handful of blogs. You, Tish Jett, and Jancie Riggs are my treadmill walking rewards.

  7. I have a few blogs I follow which give me inspiration but also some of the catalogs. Talbot’s and Chico’s come to mind. There’s something I get from the catalog spreads I don’t get shopping online though I do purchase online. Of course that was before the CDN dollar tanked. With the exchange it makes US online shopping unattractive unless the store has a sale of 40%. By the time we add the exchange rate, shipping, taxes and duty everything doubles.

  8. I stopped subscribing to fashion magazines because I couldn’t relate to the young models. I turned to blogs that feature women over 40 for style inspiration. I’ve learned from blogs that women over 40 can be just as fashionable and trendy as young women. I might subscribe to MORE magazine. I need to check it out to see if it suits me.

  9. Dear Susan, I knew I was right to pose my question to you and Tish, and you did not disappoint. Your and Tish’s blogs certainly provide what fashion magazines do not. I may try More again and I am intrigued by Tish’s suggestion of Femme Majuscule. I also like your idea of online retailers like Net-a-Porter. But I do love my print occasionally. Maybe you and Tish can collaborate on a book filled with great fashion ideas!!! I would definitely buy it. Thanks again for answering my question. Cece

  10. I’m a fashion magazine junkie, but I think you hit the nail on the head as to why (now that I’m over 50) so many of them are leaving me cold. I enjoy InStyle simply because of the sheer volume of looks they include. I also love Vogue just because it’s Vogue. Fantasy time. But the two I enjoy most right now are Elle and Bazaar. Elle has very intelligent articles and Bazaar regularly highlights fashion for different age ranges. I also like the physical quality of both – thick paper, beautiful photography.

  11. Rarely do I comment on fashion blogs but this was just so “spot on” I had to. I often buy magazines, I rarely get to read them cover to cover but I do love to browse through when I get a free moment, which is rare! I used to buy fashion magazines, Vogue, Harper’s Bizarre, and Elle which everyone said was the French fashion bible. However, like everyone else it seems, I find they offer scarcely any inspiration at all these days, the adverts tend to be more realistic than the actual fashion articles. Instead now for fashion advice I follow blogs and also, I love to look at a couple of online retail stores, Anthropologie and J Crew are my favourites, browsing through their “look books” is bang on trend, up to date and yet is totally wearable, affordable fashion and it beats any magazine hands down!

  12. I first saw this on Tish’s blog. Basically it is fashion blogs for me, I enjoy it cause I can relate to alot of what is being discussed or shown and I like the interaction, and that you can’t find with a magazine.
    Except vacation time, then I get an English magazine or two and delve into fantasy land. Living here in the Netherlands imported magazine are extremely expensive and I finish one in a hour so find it a waste. I tried the local magazines but can not relate to Dutch fashion at all, even after 10 years….

  13. none of the young women I know buy fashion mags, which makes me wonder who does buy them? For me, a large part of the problem is the way the models are photographed: sometimes one can’t even really see the clothes. The photographers seem to be trying to make an “art” statement. I stopped buying More mag because its annual “real women” contest always elected women who either were one in a million beauties or had had lots of plastic surgery. And rarely were they over 50.

  14. I also used to look forward to spending an hour with a new magazine. No more. The only one I get is Porter, from netaporter. The photography is beautiful and I enjoy the fashion. A few years ago I treated myself to an international subscription of Madame Figaro, but it was expensive since I couldn’t keep up with the issues that arrived every week. Now and again I’ll buy one at the international newstand, or Grazie.

  15. I haven’t purchase a fashion magazine in years. I get my fashion inspiration on line, blogs like yours and Pinterest. Ditto for newspapers – I used to get the Saturday paper delivered, but now I just subscribe to one news outlet on line because I like their investment articles.

  16. I also stopped buying MORE magazine but for personal reasons. I was one of the semifinalists in one of the earlier ‘Real Women’ or, whatever it was called then, contests. It was 15 years ago and I was 53. I was the oldest in the bunch and I had not a drop of ‘work’ done. At that point, I felt the focus on ‘older’ women was lost and I no longer wanted to participate.
    It’s the same old same old….when someone wants an older woman for tv or print work, they ask someone in their late 40’s, early 50’s to ‘be’ 70. Been, there, done that. No more. One rarely sees an older model unless she is an actress or former young model.
    Vogue has been a continued disappointment with very, very young women in the ads/features. I find it insulting to the rest of us.
    Thank you for another interesting discussion. If we want to affect change, the way to do it is by making choices about how we spend our money. Or, we have to realize that fashion magazines are selling a fantasy of sorts. We are older, wiser and make our choices based on our previous experiments in the world of fashion. We also know that style cannot be bought.