Thursday, September 9, 2010

Squared away.

Ah, Times Square: feared by natives, revered by tourists, thoroughly indescribable to anyone who has never experienced the madness. After spending five days a week in New York's legendary hub of overpriced sandwiches and overzealous humans wearing cardboard sandwiches (I'm going to make a t-shirt that says "I hate stand-up comedy" on one side and "bus tours are for quadriplegics" on the other), I've mastered the navigational tips that any NFT pamphlet will eagerly regale. But far above the impromptu subway concerts and the student rush lines towers a sleek skyscraper that challenges the carb-gobbling, sneaker-wearing culture of the area in which it stands. It is the Condé Nast building: home of Vogue and countless other internationally respected publications, and home of me for the last ten weeks.

(Embarrassing that I took these photos. In my defense, I did it before I was an employee.)

You've seen Ugly Betty and The Devil Wears Prada. You've heard urban myths of what goes on beyond the high-security turnstiles. And to be honest, Nasties are a lot like their fictional counterparts: a slender, well-dressed, workaholic bunch who have cultivated the kind of attitude that allows them to hold their own in a highly competitive and (to an extent) superficial industry like magazine journalism. Personally, I love it. I thrive on it. It's the pinnacle of New York's survival-of-the-fittest mentality; you don't come to this city expecting (or even wanting) to be coddled.

What Condé Nast employees aren't: soulless airheads only interested in prying their skim lattes from your quivering, worshipful fingers. These women (mostly) are ambitious, yes, but they are also fiercely intelligent and generous toward those who are willing to work hard. Sure, I did my share of prime time-worthy bitchwork (I'm too scared to post stories here, but ask me if you're curious. There are some winners), but I've always understood that you have to pay your dues when you're first starting out. And at Condé Nast, those dues come with some pretty sweet perks: fancy parties, free haircuts (with Bobbi Brown and Salma Hayek's stylist, no big deal), free food, free gym memberships, free reign on the beauty closet. Oh, and I guess, like, knowledge, or something. I got more out of the experience than I could have possibly imagined, and probably realize even now.

I chose to intern at a lifestyle magazine rather than a fashion magazine this summer, which was, quite honestly, the best decision I could have made. I enjoy fashion (I mean, kind of) (whatever) (wink, wink), but I've often questioned whether or not I could be satisfied by it as a career. After all, even this blog, which I suppose would be most accurately billed as a "fashion blog," is framed by my personal life and very much a product of my agenda. Writing for a magazine - adopting their voice, targeting their audience, pleasing their advertisers, adhering strictly to their views and purposes - is a whole different animal. It involves another set of skills that I'm equally interested in developing, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the glib, cyclical, business-oriented aspects of fashion journalism would drive me crazy after a while. Anyway, I'm not ruling it out, but I wanted to understand how the editorial process applies to other departments: fitness, nutrition, beauty, health, entertainment, sex. Fortunately, my internship confirmed my suspicions that writing is my first love. I'll be able to dress how I want no matter what I do; finding a way to make a living off of words is my first priority.

Anyway, I'm sure this is all very fascinating. My original plan for this post was to provide the dish on the "uniform" of each of Condé's magazines, a categorical distinction I gradually picked up on through stealthy observation of who pressed which buttons on the elevators. But here's the SparkNotes: Vogue girls do not wear skirts. They wear pants. Only pants. All pants, all the time. It's Pantsville. It's a veritable pants party. Preferably cropped. Sometimes pleated. But always of the pants-y variety.

I may be back in Evanston, Illinois (Chicago, let's go with Chicago), but I'm doing my best to bring a little Vogue to the Midwest. I used to abhor pants with every fiber of my being, but what can I say? They've grown on me. I love the laid-back flavor these green wool trousers bring to this crazy, shoulder-pad-inclusive floral bolero, which was a thrift store find in my even more obscure hometown of Vienna, Virginia.

This is how you know I'm an amateur fashion blogger. An expert would have made sure the clasp on her necklace was in back for the detail shot. Fail.

Jacket: Thrifted.
Tank: American Apparel.
Pants: Vintage Lord & Taylor.
Purse: Oroton.
Belt: Thrifted.
Shoes: Thrifted.
Earrings, necklace and watch: Inherited.

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