As part her recent remarks at a conference in the Philippines, personal finance guru and television host Suze Orman, came down against a sacred cow of the fashion and beauty world — nail salons and even nail polish more generally.
"Women in particular spend a lot of money on pedicures and manicures. If you just simply buffed your nails, you wouldn't have to get a manicure more than once a month, because the only reason you go back to get manicures all the time is because your nail polish is chipped. And I'm an extremely wealthy woman and you don't see me ever having nail polish on, because it's such a waste of time and money."
Suze Orman, 2000 / via Getty
Orman's is a message we should pay more attention to. Beauty advertising doesn't just sell us products, it sells false needs. You never need to get a manicure, but sometimes it can feel that way. A manicure is just a briefly pretty set of fingertips that costs money (and yes, time that you could instead be spending on petting your cat and working on personal non-nail related projects). Money which, for most of us, doesn't grow on those proverbial trees.
It's worth cutting back on some luxuries (for sure, any and all that you're paying for on credit) to, as Orman and common sense dictate, get your financial house in order and start building a savings and retirement account.
The "but" — pretty things and small extravances don't make a life worth living, but they often make it a little sweeter and more fun. Getting your nails painted can be a relaxing, gratifying way of doing something only for yourself, and it doesn't have to cost very much if you go only occassionally. There's a place by my apartment in Brooklyn where getting your nails done with some great Essie color costs only $7 (and then once you spend $100, you get $10 off your next service…it's such a good deal I suspect it's some kind of money laundering front). Granted, beauty services in New York City are less expensive (due to market crowding) than in other parts of the country — still, no matter where you are, you can probably get a manicure somewhere for $20, which is what they should cost.
But as Orman suggests later in her remarks, often we spend money on beauty and cosmetics for all the wrong reasons. And blindly acquiescing to various social pressures and an ad-fueled beauty standard is a surefire way to spoil a perfectly good manicure.
Don't spend money you don't have, to impress people you don't even know or like. Understand that who you are in life to yourself is far more important than showing people what you have.
Mirte Maas covers Vogue Mexico’s June cover, and really, it’s nothing special. Outfitted in a gold fringed Versace dress and a Burberry bolero, the combination of elements comes together to clash rather than complement.
As alonsoJonathan posted, "Ugh I don’t like this. The colors/clothes/model/pose. Nothing works for me. Especially since last month’s cover with Anja Rubik was stunning. Such a let down from Vogue Mexico.”
“This cover could have been soooo much better without that awful Burberry shoulder pad. The Versace dress would have been fine on its own,” VogueDisciple93 commented.
Nepenthes went so far as to say, “Whoever styled this cover should be fired. This would have worked so much better without the little cape, the bracelet and the earrings and with straight, slick hair.”
This is definitely a case where more is not more. Mirte could have benefited from less hair, less accessories, less everything. But, to be honest, she’s not doing a whole lot to help save the situation. She may be ranked on models.com’s list of Top 50 Models, but as of this moment, I’m completely bored by her.
Vogue Japan's July 2013 cover: Bette Franke photographed by Giampaolo Sgura, styled in Chanel by Anna Dello Russo. The Dutch model is carrying the label's hula hoop beach bag, which became an instant icon when it appeared at Chanel's Spring 2013 runway show. The item was made to be photographed, not worn (although a modified, smaller version will be available at Chanel stores for $2,400) and Dello Russo's eccentric, outsized sensibility makes her the ideal editor to showcase the weird, wacky Karl Lagerfeld creation.
Still, the beautiful Franke, who has proven herself as a print model with severaladcampaigns, can't seem to catch a break when it comes to Vogue covers. Her March 2013 cover for the glossy's Dutch edition was poorly received by the tFS Forums and other interested parties with eyes. This most recent offering from Vogue Japan — also disappointing. Franke is one of the most indisputably stunning models working today, but here she looks like an airbrushed Bambi mannequin with impractical taste in handbags.
Yesterday I posted an item about an 80% polyester Saint Laurent jacket with a £40,420 ($61,000) price tag. Even knowing that brands often mark up some of their trendiest pieces, I couldn't believe anyone — even Saint Laurent — could get away with charging tens of thousands of dollars not for some rare, exquisite piece of finery, but for what's essentially a piece of plastic.
Dana Thomas, the journalist who wrote Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, an exposé about how luxury became a global, multibillion dollar industry, answered some of my questions about how brands determine price over email:
"When it comes to brands in major groups, the sole motivating factor is profits. The designers can dream up beautiful designs, but the number crunchers will cut costs wherever they can to raise the profit margin.
I also know that at times, designers like to use cheap fabrics not because they don't cost much but because of the effect they cause creatively. But even if the fabric costs $2 a meter, and the dress costs $50 to produce, the number crunchers will price it at $3,000 retail. Because they can.
One designer told me a case where this happened and he even protested the high price. And the number crunchers didn't care. Their argument: consumers will pay it. And they did, crazily enough."
Saint Laurent is owned by Kering (formerly known as PPR), one of the largest luxury companies in the world; its other subsidiaries include Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Sergio Rossi, Bottega Veneta.
It's worth emphasizing that analysts, not designers, are most often the ones making decisions about how to price items — based on what they predict the item will sell for, not what it costs to make. Those of us that want to see fashion prices correspond more closely to quality need to educate ourselves about garment production and put pressure on brands to be more transparent about their manufacturing practices and policies. Anyone who can afford to pay more for clothing should make an effort to seek out garments that take time and skill to construct, use better quality materials and are made under good conditions for workers, with low environmental impact.
Nicole Kidman at 66th Cannes Film Festival – Opening Ceremony; Image: WENN
Nicole Kidman is no stranger to brand association. The Aussie actress and emitter of ice queen vibes has played ambassador for Chanel and Omega, and more recently, got thawed out for a Swisse Vitamins commercial. Now Nicole is switching it up again for Jimmy Choo, having recently been named the face of the brand’s fall ad campaign.
As a 45-year-old mother of two, it’s no surprise Nicole usually opts for blue jeans and cardigans instead of towering stiletto heels and masses of racy animal print. But as a judge at Cannes Film Festival she’s really falling into her role as ambassador of the brash UK brand. So far the actress has teamed her Choos with Alexander McQueen and a black leather Calvin Klein, with a decent amount of PDA thrown on for good measure.