Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Best and Worst of Fashion Magazines

A couple of posts ago I talked about why I find fashion magazines unsatisfactory. For the post I bought and read Elle, Harper's Bazaar, and Vogue cover to cover. Focusing so intently on the content and appeal of the magazines gave me an opinion of which, with all of it's flaw's, was the better magazine. This is by no means a comprehensive review of all fashion magazines, but I would consider these to be in the top 10 most read. These are also somewhat (I that is only a somewhat) more focused on fashion that certain other magazines such as cosmopolitan.


The things I am looking for in a fashion magazine are mostly the things I criticized in my previous post. I want the magazine to have first and foremost good content, content that is relevant and fashion oriented. Magazines have a lot of fluff, I am trying to discern which one has the most satisfying reviews and articles that really have a meaning behind them. 

The second thing I am looking for tends to be more of a focus when choosing a fashion magazine, image and branding. What I mean by this is the visual appeal and professionalism of the magazine. In an aesthetics focused industry this is particularly important.

If I were to have put together a checklist it would have gone something like this:

-Cover Page Appeal
-Fashion Based Content
-General Content
-Photo Spreads
-A Sense of Being Established



the good
What Elle does well is content. I didn't do any technical research, but while I was reading it I got the sense that there was more to read and look, and subsequently less advertisements. I felt like after I read Elle I had actually achieved something, it didn't leave me as empty feeling as the others. The problem with this content is that it isn't fashion based. A lot of the content that I read could be found in magazines other than ones about fashion. I ended up reading movie reviews, book reviews, etc. etc. So although there was stuff there, it wasn't necessarily what I was looking for.

the not-so-good
In addition to not having enough fashion content, Elle also doesn't have the professional feel that I want if I'm going to pay six dollars for a magazine. With all of the content comes the feel that a lot of it wasn't selected carefully enough. Also, generally speaking most fashion magazines of the same kind of curb appeal when it comes to their cover, but to me Elle has always felt a bit sloppier when a look at the front page. Everything seems to be cramped, with too many words. All of this lends to the unprofessional feel of the magazine.


the good
Oh Vogue, THE fashion magazine to end all fashion magazines, the one that can make or break an entire design career. Vogue certainly has the most pomp and ceremony surrounding it, and there are a few things that set it apart from the rest. The first thing that would make me want to pick up Vogue as opposed to any other fashion magazine would have to be the sense of history. Vogue wasn't started yesterday, and throughout the decades it has managed to maintain its elite status. I find that professionalism and a sense of history go hand in hand when it comes to Vogue. There is something very selective feeling about Vogue, Anna Wintour does have certain standards. The one other thing that I love about Vogue, the photo shoots. In no other magazine will you find such beautiful and inspirational photo shoots, which is something blogs can't offer in the same way.

the not-so-good

I can also, however, criticize Vogue for its fashion photo shoots. Besides being an established powerhouse in the fashion world, the photo shoots are pretty much all Vogue has to recommend itself content wise. There are only two photo shoots in the particular edition of Vogue that I have, and I think that's pretty much typical. Not every magazine has a Grace Coddington, and I think Vogue would be wise to use their best asset more frequently. My biggest criticism of Vogue has to be that it's not a fashion magazine it just pretends to be. What Vogue is actually selling is a lifestyle. Articles on fashion were pretty much non-existent, the photo shoots are the only cover up. Vogue is the biggest of the three fashion magazines, and yet has the least content. I would say that because it is the biggest it seems to also have the most ads, and the fewest articles, almost none of which relate to fashion.

Harper’s Bazaar

the good
Harper’s Bazaar seems to have a lot of what Vogue has when it comes to professionalism and a sense of history. Harper’s Bazaar hasn’t been able maintain the same sort of presence as Vogue over the years, but I think it makes it try harder, whereas Vogue seems to rest on its laurels. To me Harper’s Bazaar has the most appealing front cover just because it has a simpler, less cluttered look to it. Harper’s Bazaar has the same amount of content as Elle, yet the professional, elitist feel of Vogue. Harper’s Bazaar seemed to have the most fashion based content of all three magazines. Harper's Bazaar also isn't as ad ladened feeling as Vogue, or even Elle.

the not-so-good
As much as Harper's Bazaar had the fashion content, it also had a lot of other content that seemed like it was stuck there to fill the pages. Things like horoscopes which don't belong in high end, high fashion magazines.


None of these are up to the standard they should be, none of them quite live up to their name, but least of all Vogue. Vogue was the biggest disappointment because it has the most hype surrounding it. For all of the talk about Vogue being the "fashion Bible", that's really all there is. What makes someone reach for a copy of Vogue today is the same thing that makes someone reach for a bottle of Perrier instead of Club Soda, it's all about the image. What's inside has very little to do with one's estimation of the value. 

If I had too read one of these three magazines again I would most likely choose Harper's Bazaar. It is by no means perfect, or even close to perfect, but  it take the good of both Vogue and Elle, and puts it into one magazine. 

I am a fierce critic of "fashion magazines", not even to mention the world of fashion editor's etc. This review allowed me to understand what makes a good fashion magazine, and to be on the look out for it somewhere in the future.

Do you agree with my analysis? Does Vogue live up to it' name?


  1. i really love it all! but vogue is vogue!

  2. Great post, truthfully, I also love my (what I call it) garbage mags like Life & Style hehe!!! Love your blog! I'd love for you to visit mine! Maybe we can follow each other!? :)


  3. Vogue is a fashion bible, that's true. But it is edited by PEOPLE just like us and they too make mistakes. I remember articles where fashion editors admitted that their judgement was wrong. It's absolutely normal!

    You have a lovely blog :) I am so glad I found it!


  4. great post!! just found your blog!! it's very nice. i have a new post up if you get a a chance to take a look!!

    your new follower, eimear x

  5. I work in retail so all my coworkers and I do on slow days is read fashion magazines, I can't agree with you more on your analysis. It's funny how vogue is always the largest but I finish it the fastest because it's 70% ads and photos! My favorite by far is harpers :)

    Love your blog, stop by mine sometime!

  6. Nice post.^^
    Would you like to follow each other on bloglovin???
    My Blog

  7. GLORIOUS review.

  8. Nice review. I'm glad your a fierce critic of the quality of fashion magazines. XO

  9. interessting post

  10. i hardly buy Vogue because i find the accesorries and fashion spread are not really covered well every season(unless its Vogue China) For Harpers bazaar its a must every month,the fashion writing does captures the sense of fashion compared to other mags.But my most Fav would be GLAM magazine from news,fashion spread and editorial are pretty well covered locally or internationally.

    1. I think that the more culturally diverse and international the magazine, the less commercialized it's going to be. Too bad I can't get Vogue China (or read it for that matter).
      Thanks for your thoughts.

  11. i get ur point and agree with u dear,maybe as i said bout the Vogue China,the market and sales are more targeted in the country opposed to others.U should get a copy of Any China's fashion mag esp vogue or bazaar because most of the month are just like as thick and heavy as the september issues,the editors widened and spread their fashion idealogist more than any other country.there are few mag in my country which is Malaysia are target for certain class of people even though they claimed it to be fashion but to me its not.more into publishing a magazine of a pure snob life of the people who are wealthy even though they look like they came from the 70s.

  12. Nice review!Would you like to follow each other?x

  13. I love Vogue magazine! ♥ it's my favourite :) really cute bog :*

  14. September issues are the best!! love your blog!

    check out mine :)

  15. I love this topic. Writer has made some solid in his article. I will surely research to verify them.


I'd love to know what your thoughts are! I will do my best to visit your blog.
I speak english, french, and a little spanish.

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