Dear John..er, InStyle

Dear InStyle: I’m writing to tell you it’s over. This may come as a shock, I know, after nearly 10 years together… but I think it’s time we take a step back, take an honest look at where we are, and just accept that it’s not working anymore. It’s not you, it’s me.

I know you heard that I canceled my subscription. Why didn’t you ask me before, so I could explain? But then, maybe you just can’t explain the end of something like this. Well, I’m going to try and explain now, InStyle. You deserve that. We deserve that.

Our first Christmas

Our first Christmas

InStyle, you’ve been with me since the spring of 2000. I remember exactly how it started: After our freshman years at different colleges, my best friend and I got jobs together at the Ann Taylor Loft outlet. In between rehanging crisply pleated trousers and belted shift dresses–my first brush with the wonders of tailored clothing and an actual Petites section–I met you one day in the break room. I felt an instant affinity and we’ve been together ever since. Besides my immediate family, InStyle, you have been my longest relationship.

For years, I looked to you for guidance. I found myself in your calming, linear layouts, your sensible articles, and hi-low dressing tips. Your light-filled features of my favorite celebrities are always delightful, a soothing gloss over favorite products, gadgets, and designers. There’s no denying that you’ve worked hard over the years to keep current.

And no matter how you have changed during our time together, I have always appreciated your unflagging dedication to my favorite section, “the Look.” You’ve kept it filled with beautiful women in beautiful things, sorted by color, length, and trend (remember the full two pages of ruffled asymmetrical hems worn with cropped leather jackets in April 2004?). And  I have an overflowing accordion file filled with pages ripped from that section, mementos of my favorite looks, my favorite times with you.

But things change. People change.

It was, in fact, my last delivered issue that prompted this letter. I got your note, your gracious last-minute offer of forgiveness via 10% discount to renew. Thank you. But this last issue just strengthened my conviction, InStyle, that we have grown apart.

The Last Nail. What to wear. Would I wear these? No, probably not.

The Last Nail: "What to wear." Would I ever wear these? No, probably not.

I stared at your glossy pages, waiting for inspiration… and I just didn’t feel anything. Well, to be frank, what I felt was boredom and (it hurts me to say it, I swear) a vague distaste for your proposed Date Night ensembles and Figure-Flattery Solution. Would I ever wear these? Probably not. They’re all so expected, so safe, so predictable. Your very kind suggestions show me nothing I haven’t seen in a Target ad… and I need more than that.

The truth is, there’s someone else.
I met Vogue years ago, before you and I were ever committed to each other, InStyle. It was nothing then, a mild flirtation that ended in disappointment. I was too young, to unsure of my style choices and inspirations, and Vogue was just so… sophisticated and controversial. Vogue ran with a fast crowd, it seemed, and I just wasn’t ready for it. That’s why I needed you so much then.

We both know I know I’m still young, InStyle. We know that I still can’t afford to run with Vogue’s crowd; no matter how bad the economy is, Vogue will never try so hard to stretch a dollar as you always do. But economy is not the issue here, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Romeo & Juliet shot by Annie Liebowitz for Vogue, December 2008. Wearable? Hardly. Affordable? Not in a million. But couture depicted as art that tells a story through dance? It absolutely lets me be part of a new --and centuries old-- conversation.

"Love of a lifetime": A Romeo & Juliet story shot by Annie Liebovitz for Vogue, December 2008. Wearable? Hardly. Affordable? Not in a million. But modern couture based on Renaissance sensibilities, depicted as art that tells a story with dance? I don't find it a stretch to say that this photo absolutely lets me be part of a new --and centuries old-- conversation.

I need to be challenged in my fashion magazine. I need to be shown the extremes in life and lapels, and I need the freedom to make a choice, rather than being gently herded into a muted collage of work appropriate, date appropriate, wedding appropriate. I want the permission to be a little inappropriate sometimes, InStyle. I want to be inspired. And I think Vogue can do that for me. Or maybe Bazaar or Vanity Fair. Even Glamour and Redbook might have something to teach me, if I give them the chance…

First in my heart, you'll never miss me when I'm gone.

First in my heart, you'll never miss me.

Please don’t think badly of me, InStyle, for my indiscretions. I hope you understand that you were my first love, and I will always, always remember your kindness and your guidance. You brought a green girl to understand the goodness inherent in a perennial classic. I hope you understand your impact on my life and my closet, and I hope that one day you will come to think of me as a student who has learned to learn.

I think it’s best if we don’t speak for awhile, InStyle. It will be painful enough to see your face at every checkout, and I’m positive it will be months before I stop expecting you in my mailbox. I am, after all, one of many pupils. Surely you can lavish more love on the rest of them… and you’ll hardly notice I’ve gone.

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