August Musings On September Issues

I’ll be honest- August is one of my least favorite months. I don’t know why but weird, not-so-awesome things always seem to happen in August, or the month has routinely carried the weight of transition for me. I moved during August (two years to the date!), school frequently starts up again in August, the calendar starts to get too busy in August, and summer movies are never quite as good in August. It could be the looming start of a new school year and the existential reminder that all good Rosé seasons must come to an end, or it could just be me.

So over the years I’ve tried to find little ways to take back this month and be intentional about enjoying it, and for nearly ten years now one of those ways has involved getting really, really, reeeeeeeeally excited for September issues. If you know me, you know this. The annual crowning achievement of every fashion magazine editor is their September issue, and while the magazine industry seems to be in upheaval now right alongside retail, we can bet that no matter what happens there will forever and always be excitement surrounding the inaugural weeks of fall fashion. I’m not sure why people don’t get this excited for spring fashion in February. It must be the pumpkin-spice-loving, Ugg-boots-wearing, Bath-and-Body-Works-obsessing white girl in all of us.

So let’s look at a couple September covers, though we’ll be sans Vogue today because they have to be all queenie and make a grand entrance after everyone else. However, we WILL make some speculative guesses!

Blake Lively for Glamour

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I like this cover. It’s cheerful. It reads a little more March than September to me, but it’s still very beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of the large flower on Blake’s neck, but the soft focus on her face is easily the first thing you notice anyhow. Glamour has really been playing with its cover design the past couple years and the playful font lends a decidedly millennial feel to this one, clearly reaching out to younger readers. Lively apparently spends a great deal of her interview discussing the Child Rescue Coalition, an organization that “provides law enforcement with technology to track and prosecute child predators.” It might be heavy subject matter for a September issue, but I have to say it’s great to hear a celebrity pushing the focus outward instead of talking about their latest reinvention of themselves.

Alicia Vikander for Elle

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This, in stark contrast to Glamour‘s, is actually the kind of cover I prefer. It may be a little boring to some but I like that it makes a plain, straightforward statement. The bold fonts combined with Vikander’s dress and shoulder-y stance give off a kind of eighties vibe. Speaking of Alicia Vikander, it isn’t as interesting to see who is chosen for a September cover as much as it is to discover why. I like trying to predict September covers based on who has projects coming up that month. Alicia probably snagged the cover in anticipation of her late-August movie Tulip Fever, and to ramp up buzz for her Tomb Raider remake in March.

For Vogue, rumor has it that a certain actress in an upcoming Darren Aronofsky film will be taking their September cover. If this proves true I’ll be a little disappointed beings that she had this coveted cover just four years ago AND she was on Vogue‘s cover this past December, less than a year ago! Give it a rest, Ms. Wintour. And a second prediction- Rihanna will almost certainly grab a September cover somewhere, be it with Allure or Marie Claire, due to the launch of Fenty Beauty on September 8. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for this launch. You know there’s bound to be some top-of-the-line lipstick in any beauty launch that Rihanna’s responsible for.

Selena Gomez for InStyle

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Ah, and now for the one that I subscribe to and don’t just pick up on occasion. This magazine has been undergoing a nonstop overhaul since Laura Brown replaced Ariel Foxman as editor-in-chief last November. Some of the changes I’ve loved, others not as much. The covers that Brown has overseen have been consistently fresh and eye-catching nonetheless. She really has done a bang-up job.

It’s seemed the entire print mag industry has been trying to get its sea legs as it adjusts to constant change these years. Some have shuttered completely (RIP Lucky, Self, and probably People StyleWatch, or whatever it’s called now, very soon). Waning relevance thanks to social media and online content, a struggling retail industry (affecting fashion in general), and a political climate in upheaval have made it a challenge for fashion magazines to keep up readership and relatability. It’s been good to see InStyle as one of the few print periodicals that has taken the bull by the horns and leaned in to the maelstrom of change these days. And Selena, the woman with the most Instagram followers in the world at 124 million, is having her moment with a Coach partnership and a new album out probably sooner than later.

Adriana Lima, The Weeknd, and Irina Shayk for Harper’s Bazaar

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And now for the wildcard. Selena and her boyfriend must be high-fiving each other over both claiming September covers this year- not something you’d expect to find on any male celebrity’s resume (save for the obvious i.e. GQ). I have to admit that I laughed out loud when I first saw this. The expressions on their faces somehow read super Zoolander to me. I’m pleased, however, that Adriana and Irina are the only models on the September cover lineup so far. The rest are musicians or actors. I have to say that I’m pretty burned out with the resurgence of the supermodel. I know for a while we all complained that the world of fashion had been given over to the celebrity and there was not enough respect being given to the model, the original and true muse of the industry. However, we’ve turned on the supermodel firehose these days with an endless barrage of Gigi, Kendall, Joan, Bella, Hailey, Kaia, Emily, Cara, and Karlie. Their omnipresence on our social media feeds has had a numbing effect on me personally, and I’ve struggled to relate one little bit to today’s supermodels. But I guess the point of a supermodel isn’t exactly relatability, is it?  And the day I do relate to one, well, that probably means I’ve somehow become one in some alternate universe.

Any covers you especially love? Or any predictions for those yet seen? Do tell, and first and foremost, try to enjoy your August! xo, MR

Photo credits by order of appearance: Nathaniel Goldberg/Glamour magazine, David Bellemere/ELLE, Phil Poynter/InStyle, Brigitte LaCombe

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What I Brought Home From My Vacation

My Christmas vacation this year consisted of a trip back to southern California, where the sun shined unbelievably for the full nine days that we were there.  What a beautiful time it was.  I had flapjacks with Dad, went on a traditional shopping excursion with Mom, laughed my butt off with my family as we celebrated Christmas, stood basking in the warmth of Laguna Beach, saw so many friends that I love, managed to squeeze in quality time with a few of them, and just had an all-around great time being around people and places that I’ve missed.

But of course, me being me, I couldn’t resist listing what I got out of this trip that pertains to the nature of this blog.  Namely, what beauty experiences did I walk away with during my time in the Golden state?

A new appreciation for flying

This trip involved my first flying experience in over four years.  While the flight into California was ridiculously turbulent (as in the-captain-issued-a-preemptive-apology kind of tubulent), the flight back was actually quite pleasant.  I enjoyed a couple issues of Elle and InStyle, a Korean serum mask, and a very small glass of Bailey’s just for fun.

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Adding the tiniest bit of luxury to my flight almost made it feel like a borderline chic experience.  Hey, when you’re flying second class and your knees are touching the awkward, hungover twenty-one-year-old’s knees next to you, you kinda have to make it work, even if it means that twenty-one-year-old almost jumping out of his chair at the sight of you wearing a creepy Hannibal mask next to him.

A serious Sephora haul

Now that you’ve heard me complain a couple times about how dry my skin is over here, you’ll be glad to know that my mom-in-law came through with two products that I’m so excited for, and a couple that I picked up myself thanks to a generous gift card from my mom.

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I’d wanted to try an oil cleanser since my skin starting drying out over here, and my mom-in-law came through for me with this one.  I received Erborian’s Solid Oil Cleanser as one of my gifts.  Out of curiosity, I took home a sample of this from Sephora and it is some dreamy stuff, let me tell you.  It smells so fresh and relaxing, with a spa-like green tea fragrance.  The unique consistency is that of a thick, stiff goop, but take a minute or two to really massage it into your dry skin.  It is delicious.

According to the Korean double-cleanse method, you’re then supposed to follow an oil cleanser with a foaming cleanser (though I’m sure the oil cleanser is probably enough for most people).  I’ll be using Ole Henriksen’s Empower Foaming Milk Cleanser (once I finish what I currently have), which also smells relaxing and calming.  I’ve been so into finding scents that lift my spirits lately.  Doing little things like enjoying a smell, or listening to soothing sounds, treating yourself to a coffee, or doing a relaxing yoga session in your apartment are things I used to right off as sad, temporary attempts at trying to avoid reality and ignore life’s troubles.  Now I realize they’re just ways of enjoying your freaking life.  And another small way of enjoying life- dry shampoo.  The highly reputable Living Proof formula was also a Christmas gift, and it’s especially helpful for managing the new hairy addition to my forehead I came home with (see below).

My own Sephora picks include Alterna’s Caviar Replenishing Moisture Shampoo, Shiseido Ultimate Power Infusing Concentrate, and Origins A Perfect World SPF25 Age-Defense moisturizer.  I’ve used all three of these items before and I enjoy each of them.  After running out of my fourth bottle of Rahua shampoo, I’m choosing to give it a break and focus on intense moisture throughout the winter with my hair, especially as I grow it out.  The Alterna is great for that.  Concerning the Shiseido, I have said that I like Caudalie’s Vinosource serum better and I believe I still do.  However, Caudalie is good for intense moisture but it doesn’t necessarily help with other areas of concern like spots, etc.  The Shiseido is a little more geared toward all areas, so I’m going to see how well it multitasks.  And the Origins moisturizer is a nice one that I’ve been using for a while now.  I’ll stick with it.

My only bummer was having my new bottle of Fresh Seaberry Restorative Body Cream, a gift from my sis-in-law, detained by TSA because the bottle was too big.  Poop.  Once again Mom saves the day by sticking around just long enough at the airport for my husband to run it back to her so she can ship it out.

A super-dark manicure

Ever since growing my nails back, man, I am addicted to painting them.  I do darks, nudes, or a true red.  For my manicure that I got with my mama (thanks, Mom!!), I chose OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark, a cult fave, for New Year’s and to go with my mostly basic wardrobe that I’d packed for the trip.  It’s a really deep purple that is barely distinguishable from black, but that’s why I like it.  Once you catch the color in the right light, you see the eggplant hue shining through.  It can work as an interesting accessory (and yes, I consider painted nails an accessory).

So, here’s the best shot I got of them, which also happens to be the best shot I got of an extremely fancy-pants bathroom at the Montage in Laguna.  Two for one.

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BANGS

Because I knew I’d be able to book an appointment with Justin at Salon 9, I had to take the opportunity.  I’ve been rocking a mid-length, rather grown out ombre’d lob since summer, and I figured I could go for a couple small-ish changes.  We darkened things a bit and went for a richer brunette while still leaving some shimmering highlights within the length.  The real addition here though, is the new arrival of bangs.  Whew.  I had forgotten what a commitment they are, but I really want to make them work this time.  I mean, really.  I want long hair down to my chest like I had before, but now with long bangs.  I want bangs to be part of my integral look for a while, so I’m in it for the long haul.  And don’t make fun of my robe or slight-smeared eyeliner here.  I’m wearing MAC’s kohl liner in Smolder, which I consider my Jack Sparrow liner because it always smears and you just have to roll with it.  A pirate’s life for me.

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What this has meant so far is styling them every day, somehow.  I can’t get away with just throwing everything up in a bun and leaving the bangs scraggly and bent out of shape after getting out of bed; they have to be styled.  I mean, there’s looking French, and then there’s looking hungover-French.  Bangs cowlicked up past your forehead can put you in hungover-French territory, so styling them is a necessity.  Sometimes this means just tweaking with a flat-iron, sometimes it means wetting and washing them and starting all over.  It’s very difficult not to fuss with them throughout the day, but you have to remember that their shape doesn’t need to be perfect.  Gone are the days when bangs needed to be precisely uniform and round brushed, so the look still isn’t as high-maintenance as it might’ve been, say, seven years ago.  You can get away with a much more laissez-faire feel now, but you still need to make sure things look cohesive.

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For me personally, I think bangs are a good exercise in self-maintenance and forming a consistent routine of trying.  I very much look forward to the care and keeping of them.  Cheers to caring more in 2016!  xo, MR

Magazines: The Good, the Bad, and the (Rarely) Ugly

So, magazines, right?  I mean, some people are way into them, and other people consider nearly every one on the newsstands to be pure garbage.  Let’s cut to the chase- I love them.  Not all of them, and not all of them equally, but for those that I do love, I am fiercely loyal.  And I specifically love print magazines.  None of this newfangled download-it-to-your-iPad nonsense.  No.  No way.  It’s the freshly-pressed pages of a glossy in your hands, or nothing.  Of course, I do blogs, and while I understand that those are frequently referred to as “online magazines”, you’re kept at the nice pace of about one or two new articles a day .  A blog doesn’t bombard you with hundreds of pages per month, complete with ads, with the expectation that you click or scroll through all of them on a screen, in one sitting.  No, that kind of reading commitment is saved for the glossies, as it should be.

So which ones do I read?  Well, a lot.  I’ve only subscribed to a couple in my lifetime because I’ve found subscription services to be somewhat untrustworthy, but boy let me tell you that buying mags off the stands is a real money pit, especially when you buy multiple titles every month like me.  But that’s just the price you pay (literally) for the fun.  And I will say that for about one week each month, I go into a sort of frenzy trying to uncover the coming month’s cover stars, and I then go on a week-long hunt trying to locate each beloved mag as soon as possible (and here’s a pro tip:  Wal-Mart is the first to get the newest issues, usually about two days before they’re scheduled to “hit the stands”).  And once I’ve obtained all my desired issues for the month, I’ll admit that I go through a sort of let-down phase for a couple days where I cope with the reality that there won’t be any new magazines for at least three weeks.  A whole three weeks.  Yes, it’s that bad, and yes, it makes time fly super fast (because think about it, when you’re holding the March issue in your hands on February 13th, YOU’RE BASICALLY LIVING IN THE FUTURE).

So which ones do I read?  Oh wait, that was the question I meant to answer in the last paragraph.  Welp.

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More than just these pictured here.

But let me provide you with a brief (sure, uh huh) discussion of the magazines that I’ve interacted with in my short lifetime.  I haven’t dealt with 100% of the ones you see on newsstands (for instance, hipster mags such as Foam and Vice remain a relatively untouched territory for me … can’t deal with the heavily-filtered pretentiousness … and YES, I judge them as pretentious).

Marie Claire:  This magazine is for the Power Woman.  It encourages and assumes workplace success, frequently discusses the advancements, plights, and contributions of women around the world, and seems most fit for the “independent woman”.  I absolutely adore the publication’s fashion and beauty features, but Marie Claire can also be quite politically charged and favors discussion of hot-button social issues.  When I read magazines, I honestly don’t have much interest in this type of subject matter.  I mean this not in the sense that I prefer to remain ignorant (which my friends and family hardly allow me), but it’s simply not relaxing or entertaining for me personally.  I will also be honest and say that the writers often assume a consistent political point of view, and if you don’t find yourself in the same frame of mind it can feel a bit like the journalist’s equivalent of “You can’t sit with us!“.  But that’s life, and at least the content seeks to be informative and educational.  I can hardly resist the magazine’s beauty sections, anyhow.  I have a strange affinity for beauty product still-life shots, and Marie Claire always seems to have some of the best.  So, sometimes I pick a copy of MC, and sometimes I don’t.  But either way, it’s pretty quality.

Lucky:  You might recall a very old post of mine in which I veritably bashed Lucky magazine a year-and-a-half ago.  I had become extremely frustrated with the publication for its awkward attempts at being relatable, its trend-slave taste (do beware that this magazine is about shopping and really nothing else), and its drone-like tone as it insisted that flash-in-the-pan items like gold lame’ jeans are an “OMG MUST HAVE”.  I’d also been unimpressed with its inability to stay on the cutting edge with its covers, which had become sort of predictable and boring, and lacking in anything that really set them apart.

However, the replacement of Brandon Holley with Eva Chen as the new EIC this past September has brought a sort of uptick in the quality of Lucky.  Chen (with the formidable Anna Wintour right by her side as the Conde Nast creative director) has overseen a new batch of better styled and more luxe-looking covers with photographers like Patrick Demarchelier, a more aspirational price range (read: higher prices means a richer, more desirable feel for the magazine), and a little more substance over just plain salesmanship in content.  I will admit that Kerry Washington’s December cover had to be one of the worst cover shots I’ve ever seen (it seriously does the Scandal beauty absolutely no justice), but I will admit that I’ve seen large improvements in Lucky since Chen has taken the helm.  Lucky is still all about shopping, still draws heavily on a street style aesthetic (so if you do the street fashion thing on Pinterest, it’s totally your gig), and it still sometimes feels like it’s talking a little too much more than showing, but I have to admit that I’ve purchased nearly every issue since this past September.  I give this one a thumbs-up and say it’s now worth a try.

Allure:  I love Allure.  I love love love love Allure.  I actually subscribed to this magazine in high school, clearly demonstrating the beauty department to be my first love. The entire magazine is dedicated to all things beauty, which is seriously my dream.  Whole articles are dedicated to discussing and illustrating breakthroughs in hair mousse, “romantic makeup”, the latest trends in braids, how to find the really quality stuff at a drugstore, the best Oscar hair-do’s of the past ten years, false lashes, or the newest research in sunscreen and skin protection.  Whole articles for this stuff!  And don’t even get me started on their annual “Best of Beauty” issue … I just gobble that stuff right up.  There are little bits of fashion features sprinkled throughout so you get just enough of that, but give me a four- or five-page feature on eyeliner, and I’m good for life.

The one downside to Allure is its focus on the aspects of the beauty department that are sometimes not as interesting, such as lasers, peels, and the latest procedures beneath the knife.  There’s a lot of plastic surgery and weight loss discussion, and with all the talk about the procedures that can lead us to supposed “perfection”, it can sometimes feel awkward and disingenuous when reading the article on how to play up your own “unique” features on the very next page.  I’ve had no problem just tearing out pages I don’t want to read, though.  Aside from the some of the bodycentric stuff, Allure‘s a keeper.

Vogue:  Let me confess that I’ve purchased maybe three issues of Vogue in my lifetime.  It’s honestly just beyond my realm of living.  Oh sure, there’s fashion aplenty, but its also a lifestyle magazine with the the assumption that you’re part of a privileged crowd with the ways and means of living the life that’s discussed in Vogue.  There’s discussion of high society, politics, the arts, the media, and all kinds of other perfectly good things, but I just don’t feel at home reading Vogue.  And with my budget, I don’t think I’m meant to, either.  And that’s okay!  I’ll read it for the celebrity cover stories and glorious fashion spreads (which can be done in the grocery line), but I tend to leave the rest.  However, it is still maintains its eternal reputation (and in spite of anything I have to say) as “the fashion bible”.  Vogue remains queen, and though I don’t have much interaction with her, I respect her.

Elle:   I occasionally pick up a copy of this magazine depending on how meaty the beauty section looks, but I’ve always sort of felt like Elle was the younger, sexier sister of the older, more sophisticated Vogue (though they’re in competition with one another).  The brand itself is huge globally, with around 40 international editions in over 60 countries and it supposedly being the world’s “biggest” fashion publication (probably meaning it has the most editions around the world compared to any other).  This publication has had some of my favorite cover shots ever, and that alone has at times been enough to convince me to purchase an issue.  Elle is a lifestyle magazine, so it will speak into many areas, like Vogue, including politics, the arts, and entertainment along with a primary focus on fashion.  I like Elle a lot, but I think it’s also just a bit overwhelming for me.  I just find myself sorting through so many other sections until I get to the fashion and beauty that it’s just a sad waste of paper to purchase  more than about three issues a year, personally.

Harper’s Bazaar:  If you’re looking for a quality education in the world of high fashion without all the extra lifestyle features of Vogue or Elle, Harper’s Bazaar should serve you well.  In my opinion, it’s for the die-hards who just want to talk about the clothes and the shows.  Of course, it can feel a bit highbrow, but I feel the publication does such a good job at just showcasing as much clothing and design as possible that I rarely feel overwhelmed or annoyed by any highfalutin discussion of the who’s-who on the Upper East Side.  Harper’s Bazaar has truly been my guide to the trenches of the fashion world.  It’s been my textbook for names, history, superior trend forecasting, and the collections of the season.  If you’re truly passionate about the world of fashion with a desire to understand every cog in the machine, I recommend Bazaar for you.

People StyleWatch:  Consider this the junk food of fashion publications, the anti-Vogue, and I mean that in the best way possible.  People StyleWatch is delicious, it serves its purpose quickly, and it doesn’t bother with heavy text.  It’s like fashion training wheels, and it’s for anyone who’s ever cried JUST TELL ME WHAT TO WEAR, WHERE TO BUY IT, AND HOW MUCH IT’LL COST.  This magazine’s concept is seriously that simple.  It’s almost entirely based on celebrity style, and often demonstrates how to replicate a star’s expensive look for a fraction of the cost, down to the very accessories on their hands.  I’ve been a faithful reader of this publication since 2006, and it’s honestly just good clean fun.  I’ll admit that it can inspire quite the frantic shopping spree (and seriously, do be careful if you have spending issues because this magazine lists the price and location of every item featured on its pages, making it very addictive), but there’s no condescending advice, there’s an extremely generous budget range (like, the $50-and-under crowd are highly welcome here), and it showcases nothing but pictures, pictures, pictures.  My passion for clothing came to life with this magazine, and I have it to thank for starting me down a path toward my own, personal style.

Glamour/Cosmopolitan:  Really not a fan.  Like, really not.  Any magazine that focuses so heavy-handedly on “how to tell if he’s really into you” or “100 Sex moves that will send him into the stratosphere” deserves a minuscule amount of attention.  Oh, you say there really isn’t that much sex and relationship content in these magazines as it may appear on the cover?  THEN STOP SPLASHING IT ALL OVER YOUR COVERS  AS THE NUMBER ONE HEADLINE.  I’ll also be honest and say that a lot of the “advice” given in such features can be fairly objectifying of women (which is just so funny considering we’re the ones reading it), ridiculously repetitive, and horribly misleading and inaccurate.  But seriously, no truly insightful advice on such important things as your friendships and relationships is to be gained from one page of a magazine with some photoshopped version of Miley Cyrus on the cover (and yes, I’ll backpedal and state that all magazines are guilty of digitally retouching their covers).  I mean it!  Now, the fashion and beauty features in these publications can be fun, I’m sure.  But why not just pick up a magazine devoted entirely to those things and bypass the “Impress your dude” junk completely?

InStyle:  If I could only recommend one fashion publication to all women of any age, size, or income, this would be it.  InStyle is my favorite magazine.  If you enjoy fawning over the latest gorgeous dress worn by Cate Blanchett, this is for you.  If you want to know the best kinds of shapewear for your own size, this is for you.  If you aren’t sure how to incorporate more exciting color into your wardrobe or in makeup, this is for you.  If you like keeping up on the latest runway shows, this is for you.  There is nothing discussed in the magazine other than fashion, beauty, personal style, and a bit of home decor with a couple recipes thrown in.  I find it to be the most universally appealing publication of any that I’ve mentioned above.  There’s no specific income or social bracket targeted (so you’ll see both budget and luxe pieces featured all over), and InStyle seems to stick to the philosophy that style is something that anyone can have, develop, and enjoy, without trying to hold your hand too much.

This magazine is helpful.  There are so many features dedicated to showing you exactly how to find, wear, or try something new that you find yourself interacting with the issue on top of just reading it.  InStyle has inspired me to take action with my own style countless times, and I can’t name how many different beauty tricks or trends I’ve tried because of it (i.e. orange lips, victory rolls, an at-home blowout, the “wet” look, you name it!).  If you go for just one fashion publication, choose this one.  And I’ll also mention that I’ve been a subscriber for over three years and the service there has been great.

So in conclusion, I write all this not so much with the intent that you’ll like which magazines I like (because that would be stupid), but simply because I like talking about them.  I’ve often said that if I could do my education over again (or for a second time?), I’d get a degree in journalism, intern for a magazine somewhere, and would pursue a career at a fashion publication.  Because yes, I love doing makeup (and fashion, which we refrain from fully discussing here), and I love playing with makeup, but I really love talking about it more than anything.  And that’s what magazines are for, right?  xo, MR

P.S.  A quick word about advertisements: I’ve sometimes heard folks complain about how many advertisements there are in magazines (especially the larger ones, like Elle and Vogue).  Do you know why those ads are there?  It’s not simply page-filler that the editors have chosen to scatter on every other page to annoy you.  Magazines are actually paid by all varieties of companies to have their advertisements placed in them.  This is a large portion of a publication’s  profit (and customer subscriptions and newsstands sales are actually a lesser portion).  So, a thick issue full of advertisements is actually thee sign that a magazine is doing quite well.  When you see all those Chanel, Revlon, H. Stern, and Vince Camuto advertisements and you keep having to flip your way through like a maniac to get to the meat, just know that they are a big reason why the magazine in your hand is circulating in the first place.