- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2008

Women’s publications this month contain revelations on how the female of the species will be overhauling her wardrobe for summer even as the press is covering fall collections.

There is unquestionably a certain irony, given the recent state of the stock market, when you check out the Harper’s Bazaar article by Nandini D’Souza, “Why Does It Cost So Much?” The subtitle reads: “As fashion prices go up, up, up, how to cope and still look cool.” In the article, $500 is the new $300, and you may begin to wonder what kind of budget the editors think the average reader lives on.

Miss D’Souza says such prices sound positively bargainlike compared to some of the season’s pricier items, such as $5,000 for Louis Vuitton’s Richard Price bag or $1,350 for Derek Lam’s snakeskin platforms.

Advice for coping within such astronomical prices isn’t realistic, either. For instance: “An obscene price tag is justifiable if it’s for a classic.”

The piece goes on to quote a clothing executive who confesses that she “splurged on Chanel boots” at a mere $1,300, “as much as one month’s rent,” but finds the cost worthwhile as the boots “make everything chic.” Calculating that she has worn the boots 200 times so far, the woman figures they cost her about $6.50 each time — a number that’s decreasing daily.

Miss D’Souza concludes that the best way to stretch a dollar while looking like a million is to think of such a purchase as a long-term investment, which she observes is a great idea.

In passing, I note that most of the garments displayed in the issue’s 512 pages are not anything you could wear to the office even if styled down, say, to what you might find in your local department store.

•••

From now until November, the top topic in the media is going to be who will be our next president — and as long as a former first lady is in the running, we’re going to be focused on her feminine aspects. I certainly can’t see the rather sedately clad Mrs. Clinton being solicited to grace any covers wearing the current fashions.

You might want to turn to the March Esquire to see “What Obama, McCain, Clinton, and the Rest Can Learn from Arnold, the President of 12 percent of the U.S.”

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is, fittingly enough, the issue’s cover man.

Writer Tom Junod views him as having made himself into not just a successful governor, but a model for the first post-partisan president. Mr. Schwarzenegger’s character is neatly summed up: “It’s not that he doesn’t feel your pain; it’s that he, like Reagan, doesn’t feel his own. He’s either the happiest man in American politics or the happiest man in America, period.”

•••

Tomorrow, we get our annual Oscars treat, and you can savor the event a bit more by getting hold of the humongous March issue of Vanity Fair, dedicated to the event. An article not to miss is “The Vietnam Oscars,” about when “The Deer Hunter” and “Coming Home” faced off for the golden statue for best picture in 1979.

The really great insider detail is well worth the price of the entire issue.


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