Unluckily Ignored: Lucky Magazine Ignores Most Stylish

Lucky Magazine, which first launched in the early ’00s and has expanded to become a near obsession (a word Lucky staffers and readers alike adore and overuse) for the fashion forward womyn. They’ve been successful in large part because of what was at the time a daring and innovative layout, product placement, and disciplined focus on the fashion. It’s a formula that’s been widely successful and has launched Lucky as a viable publication, with street and fashion cred – and it’s pushed many of the more established magazines, including In Style, to adapt some of it’s format and approach.  I’ve been a fan and subscriber for many a year. Initially, when Luckywas starting, I was particularly taken with how they featured diverse models, products, and clothes. Not all the models were light-skinned, not all were white, womyn of color were represented as were different body types, and diverse designers.

Predictably, as Lucky Magazine has gained popularity, moving from shoe-string budget and cult following, to larger budget, cult and mainstream following, their advertising dollars, models, and style have become less diverse, interesting, and innovative; and frankly are beginning to contribute to my fashion malaise. One of the areas where Lucky has excelled is their online presence. In fact, what has made Luckyso popular with retailers and fashionistas alike, is that the magazine is about where to find and shop – you are directly linked to how to buy that look. And retailers whose pieces were featured in the magazine found astounding response, as Lucky shoppers descended. The online portion of Lucky for July (though it looks like it was originally run in April) has a feature called “The Most Stylish TV Characters,” which in an age of diversity, has hardly a womyn of color present – the lack of diversity, could, perhaps be blamed on television’s overall dearthof people of color, people with disabilities, people who are not a size 0; however, given that Lucky chose from both cable and network television and across several decades, I find it fascinating, disconcerting, and more than a little careless that somehow they managed not to find more than one stylish television character of color – ever, in the entire history of television. Really?

Lisa Bonet Denise Huxtables on The Cosby Show

 The one womyn they did feature, the stunningly beautiful and wonderfully quirky Lisa Bonet, back during her days on The Cosby Show as Denise Huxtable, is an extremely fair-skinned womyn, and is the only womyn of color featured.  Now it’s an interesting addition. If I were to pick someone from The Cosby Show, I might have selected Claire Huxtable for her effortless and always elegant style or Sandra, the oldest for her use of layering (and love of long dresses, feminine boots, and blazers) – but perhaps this is just my style preference. It’s true that Denise always had something on wholly creative, often mismatched, and seemingly without any link to a current trend. In fact, that was her character’s whole purpose – to be slightly offbeat withthe rest of the family, as signalled, most often, withher clothing. She was channeling, especially in the late ’80s and early ’90s a particular aesthetic in communities of color. I can’t disagree greatly with the selection, but I do wonder how it is that Lucky seems unable to feature a more diverse list. How is it that Thelma from Good Times, Julia from the groundbreaking show Julia, or (and this is the one that really upsets me) Joan from Girlfriends, whose style in the show is on par with Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex in the City wardrobe, aren’t represented?

To me, at the very least it’s lazy fashion journalism, at worse ignorance of pop culture, and a decision to ignore or exclude womyn of color (who cares? who knows them?). Lucky missed a great opportunity, to inject a broader spectrum of womyn, since they seem to have given up doing it in the pages of the actual magazine. It was a great chance to highlight and celebrate diverse womyn  in media – and not just womyn of color; what about Sukie from Gilmore Girls, a full-figured womyn who always wore great color and had style? What about Samantha from Samantha Who?, who represents ability in two-dimensions (the actress having had a double mastectomy and the character suffering from amnesia)?  I guess I shouldn’t feel so badly, it doesn’t even look like any of the Brady Bunch made it either.

Mattel's Barbie based on Julia

It’s confounding that Julia doesn’t make it. It was a landmark television show – the first to feature a Black womyn, who was not serving as a domestic, but instead was carrying the entire show. Julia was a single mother, to her son Cory, her husband having been killed (I believe in combat). And what was a real stunner, Julia was a nurse. A professional Black womyn, who went on dates (gasp!), was respected in her job, and was always dressed to the nines. Not to mention that Diann Carroll who played Julia, was and remains, drop-dead, hit your mama gorgeous. She rocked false eyelashes with jeans! Jeans! And it never looked more glamorous. Julia was so popular that there was even a doll made for the character, complete with sharp white nurse outfit. For many a womyn of color, Julia was a style icon; showing womyn of color in a way we are not often represented: as sharply dressed, fashionable, and elegant. The selection of Denise Huxtable for “most stylish” in the face of t.v. fashionistas like Julia and Joan Clayton, smacks of the same tired stereotype that womyn of color’s fashion and style is interesting only because it diverges from the norm, or in Lucky’scase stands in to capture grunge or quirkiness – which in this case is also a cover for sloppiness and “mismatched outfits,” that just happened to “magically” work. And the assumption from Lucky is that Denise’s character just “threw it on” without any aesthetic philosohpy, when often the whole point of a Denise assemble was to challenge gender and racial norms, while also celebrating African heritage (mudcloth prints) and recognizing through clothing systems of oppression (as when she wore buttons denouncing apartheid in South Africa).


Mad Men's Betty Draper

Lucky does feature Betty Draper from Mad Men (why not the original Lucy, I wonder), Ally McBeal, and of course Carrie Bradshaw. I’m not necessarily surprised by those selections. There is, of course, no way that Carrie Bradshaw could not be on the list. I find Betty Draper and Ally McBeal less predictable and interesting choices. For one, if one thinks of the styling of Draper, it’s based on the designs of clothing that stars like Lucille Ball would in fact have worn. Then why choose the modern-day counterpart? I think its a commentary on the desire for more structured clothing today. I also think its harder for us to understand color and shape in black and white. I also can’t help but wonder at the resurgence of subjugated womyn by featuring Draper and to some extent McBeal, whose kicky short skirts and stilettos, while lovely (for some) would never have been work appropriate. Who cared if Carrie Bradshaw wore a see-through dress on her first date with Big and then around town – she was a writer! A creative. Trust that when it was time to attend a business meeting, Carrie, though still with her quirk, appeared dressed appropriately.



Lucy Lui at Accessories Award show

Ally McBeal

McBeal, a show I loved, didn’t feature Ally in work appropriate clothing often. And what’s more, her clothes were often boring; the worse part of the ’90s: boxy, too big, beige, or in other not very flattering colors. Calista Flockhart was so skinny – and then the short skirts – they were great, yes, but there was no real innovation. Ally McBeal wasn’t stylish – I didn’t get a sense of a style mantra for McBeal – and short (without structure, form, or philosophy, is not a style mantra). Moreover, in comparison to the styles of the characters on the show Ling Mei (Lucy Lui) and Georgia (Courtney Thorne-Smith), Ally McBeal wasn’t really the most stylish. It was Lucy Lui’s character, Ling (oft stereotyped) that had the best wadrobe in my opinion – and came closest to inventiveness, appropriateness, and styled, structured clothing – most especially in comparison to Ally (who though I loved, didn’t come off as being guided by an adult style philosophy – and who would be when one’s busy seeing invisible dancing babies?) So we have a spectrum, McBeal without a philosophy and Draper confined by the strictures of a womynin the ’50s – and era filled with style philosophy, most of it surrounding how one should hold oneself in and “remember how to seem.”


Tracee Ellis Ross

 Girlfriends, which aired in September 2000, could perhaps be dubbed the West coast (and Black) Sex in the City. It followed the lives of four womyn: Joan, Lynn, Maya, and Toni. High-achievers, and for the most part, highly educated, the show had a cult following, particularly among Black womyn, and not least because Joan Clayton’s fabulous wardrobe, undoubtedly guided by the fierce Tracee ellisRoss, who before turning to acting, served as an associate editor with fashion giant Vogue magazine. It’s surprising, though it should not be, that Ellis Ross, like SJP had as much influence on the fashion of her character, and that character so beautifully and evocatively conjured the fashion moment of LA, and yet, neither Ellis Ross, nor the character she played (wonderfully neurotic, intelligent, caring, love-searching) Joan, have received the recognition they deserved. In fact, Girlfriends, was unceremoniously cancelled in 2008 (and yes, I am still bitter about that!). So Ally McBeal can make the list, but Joan Clayton doesn’t – what gives?

Well I suppose it’s the continual erasure and ignoring of womyn of color in fashion. We don’t really exist, we don’t have aesthetics, we don’t make the list. Interesting because we seem to have quite a strong influence. After all, even Patricia Fields noted that Carrie Bradshaw’s lovely “Carrie” gold necklace was a homage to New York’s fashion scene above 119th street and outside of the Manhattan. Interesting too, when one considers how much people of color spend on fashion, particularly brands. This is all old territory…

Carrie Bradshaw in Paris

So let me focus on why Joan Clayton was fabulous. First, she had signature style. Second, she had a womyn of color’s curves and was not afraid to show them. Third, she was always appropriate. Fourth, she still had fun. And lastly, unlike Carrie Bradshaw, Joan Clayton’s looks could actually translate to the street, without having one look like a victim of the monster Trendster. Carrie’s looks while fantastical and inspiring, could not be copies precisely and were often difficult to incorporate. Joan’s looks, which centered function, sophistication and ease, could be more easily translated into one’s wadrobe. And certainly, for many womyn of color, was simply more inspiring and exciting to see. I for one, have loved, equally Joan Clayton and Carrie Bradshaw, and their contributions to style.

So even if Lucky won’t do it, I have to show the fierceness that is Tracee Ellis Ross. All photos credited to nigerianwomaninnorway.blogspot.com/2008/01/od…:

How inventive, purple shoes with her neutral one-shoulder, expertly draped dress


At the NAACP Image Awards. Glowing - beautiful and sparse makeup, woderfulclassic hair, and an architectural dress. Finished with a lovely ring.

At a CE event in a beige off the shoulder dress that has just a hint of prairie-domto it, evened out with fantastic black stillettos and a clutch


Stunning. The classic dress takes a turn with a lace overlay. Here Ellis Ross mixes two neturals - a pale pale pink and white.

An inventive use of color - fuschia with turquoise. The dress has lovely detailing on the sleeves.

Comfortable, edgy and effortless. A floral dress with cardigan and heels. A classic look for fall and winter.

Great update on a classic A-line design. Plunging floral shirt dress with obi-style black belt. Wonderfully rouged cheeks give a glow. Shoes highlight the vintage feel.

What a finale! Orange ruched dress. There are no words. FIERCE.


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