Reading Fashion Magazines Like a Pro


A customer recently balked at my suggestion that she peruses some fashion publications to jump on the following season’s trends.

She told me, “I HATE those things!” with much vehemence. What does it matter to me if skinny girls wear designer clothes? Nothing!”

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this line of reasoning, so I knew she was missing the point of the exercise—just like the ladies who tell me VOGUE or W are “their bibles.” Here we have someone wholly immersed in her worldview, and there, we have someone who is deeply invested in the worldview of another. Come into the middle ground and figure out how to read these things, okay? All of us will be dressing our best.

First, we’ll do some deconstruction, and then we’ll get into the “how to” of it.


Generally speaking, fashion publications feature young, skinny, attractive people on their pages because supermarkets clean their apples and car dealerships tend their vehicles before you take them for a test drive, increasing sales. That’s all there is to it. This is the first course in marketing for the fashion industry.
No matter what your opinion is, the fact is that it is effective.

It worked so effectively that, at some point, many women stopped wondering if the clothes would look good on them and started complaining about how their bodies didn’t match those of the mannequins. You don’t have to worry about those gals looking like that all the time, though. They use a large workforce to ensure that everything from hair and cosmetics to wardrobe and set design is flawless. If that doesn’t work, they resort to airbrushing the pictures till they’re just right. And if the model gains weight or shows symptoms of aging, she is promptly replaced. Being a “has been” by age 30 is pretty sweet, huh?

It is a shame that so many young ladies and girls have allowed clever advertising to cloud their judgment and lower their self-esteem. Please don’t join them. Focus on the clothes and the feeling conveyed by the image rather than trying to emulate the mannequins.


In fashion publications, the typical setup is a stunning model wearing aspirational clothing surrounded by dashing male models. I mean, if only! Eh, that all goes toward advertising. If you’ve ever imagined yourself in the place of the girl in the photo (a psychological phenomenon known as “projecting”), the marketers have succeeded. This is all a ploy. False in every respect. A ruse.
Keep that in mind the next time you see a photo of a female wearing clothing that makes you want to run out and get them immediately so you can be just like her.


Have you ever pondered the logic behind the prevalence of advertisements from high-end designers and editorial photo spreads featuring those same designers in fashion magazines? It’s not a fluke. A single-page ad can cost tens of thousands of dollars depending on the magazine’s readership. That way, the fashion houses may spread out their advertising budgets. Oh, no.

They want to invest funds in advertisements, lend items to magazines for photo shoots, and design custom outfits for celebrities to wear to the red carpet and other media events. In this way, they increase the visibility of everyone involved. It’s ingenious but not cheap.
However, it serves its purpose. Given the option, wouldn’t you be more likely to purchase a label you adore after seeing it worn by a celebrity you admire in multiple publications? Many are. A quick perusal of the gossip columns will confirm this.


What you SHOULD be looking for in a fashion magazine (and yes, it is alright to take out pages and store them in a file for future reference – but only if you own the magazine!) is the following.

The Tendencies 1.

Even though they’re labeled “must haves” in a fashion magazine, you shouldn’t blindly follow the latest trends without considering how well they work with your shape, style preferences, and daily routine. Don’t stress over how much it costs. Look for a less expensive interpretation of what you like and wish to wear at your preferred discount or outlet store. Get it on the cheap, wear it often, then toss it when it goes out of style.

Second, the Revised Classics

Classic looks are always a wise investment, and fashion magazines know this. They will demonstrate exciting new ways to wear timeless pieces, inspiring you. It only takes a few moments of dissection to realize the relevance to your wardrobe.

Third, the Creators

If you have a “thing” for designer brands, you can educate yourself on the guiding principles of each house by reading high-end fashion magazines like Vogue, W, Marie Claire, and Town & Country.
Don’t worry about not being able to afford name brands. If you keep your eye out, you can usually find a more affordable knockoff of a trending style a few months into the season.

Four Fashion Concepts

The presentation of clothing and accessories in an image is called “styling.” Look closely at how the garments are layered, draped, or wrapped. Take note of the adornment’s placement. Look at what they did to the shoe bag. Take note of the hair and jewelry. Try re-creating the style with items already in your wardrobe if you find something you like. It’s incredible how a simple change in styling can revitalize a tried-and-true wardrobe staple.

5. Cosmetology

Have you hit a cosmetics and hairstyle wall? Read fashion publications to get a feel for the season’s most popular looks. You won’t just pick up some new styles, but you can also find that a new hairdo is all you need to be “au currant” this year.

The best method to stay abreast of the latest trends is to subscribe to a fashion magazine but remember that their primary purpose is to promote the advertisers’ wares. Focus on the items, trends, and styling ideas that might work for you rather than the models and the prices. Then you can either model your spending habits after theirs or modify theirs to fit your preferences. In no time, and regardless of your age, shape, size, or money, you may feel and look like a model.

Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and the author of the ebook “Wardrobe Magic,” which teaches women how to organize and curate their closets to create a collection of clothes they want to wear. Pay her a virtual visit at.

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