Blake Lively was recently named Vogue’s Best Dressed Woman of the Year. Somewhere an angel lost its wings and face-planted to Earth. Or was that my confidence in American Vogue shattering into a thousand crystalline pieces that not even Riccardo Tisci could work into a couture gown?
To put it lightly, I am at odds with Vogue’s recent Best Dressed of 2010 list. The list was so noteworthy that it received its own print special edition, with Lively in a cover photo that left me wondering if I was supposed to admire her perfect dosage of side-boob or her supposed top-notch style.
Let me set the record straight: Blake Lively occupies a stratospheric level of beauty. She has made some positive style choices in the past. But Best Dressed? After that Versace gown she wore to the Met Costume gala that made her look like a poor man’s Freida Pinto? There is a strong difference between having a killer body plus a chunk of change and having an impressionable personal style, a difference I believe Vogue overlooked in this case.
I do not mean to bash Lively, although it is good fun. I’m sure she is a lovely person and I admire her statement that she refuses a stylist (although, to be perfectly honest, I’m unsure whether this is true). After the spoonful of rage that Vogue’s list fed me went down, I started to question the validity of any best dressed lists.
If any fashion voice is entitled to a final opinion it would be Vogue, but this list fills me with disappointment and doubt. Did they think their sales would skyrocket with Lively “The Bombshell” gracing the cover? Placing Sarah Jessica Parker at No. 6 felt more like a nod to Carrie Bradshaw, which is especially offensive when it meant pushing the young powerhouse Carey Mulligan to No. 8. Lady Gaga at No. 10 might as well have been Anna Wintour throwing a bone.
Why should I be so worked up over a best dressed list? On the one hand, the authority of Vogue is unquestionable, but on the others this authority is inconsequential. Fashion is subjective. Although presented in numerical order as fact, Vogue’s Best Dressed list is entirely opinion. Even I tend to lose sight of that amidst the glitzy display of it all.
Best dressed lists in general tend to restrict the definition of fashionable to the unattainably rich, famous and beautiful. The whole process becomes less about honoring an individual for creative and game-changing fashion and more about rewarding someone for appropriately allocating their wealth.
Check out The Sartorialist. Scott Schuman is a celebrated fashion photographer, and his blog is a haven of inventive street-style –– sometimes of the well-known, but mostly of anonymous fashionistas on their way to work or out on the town.
While his subject is not your Average Joe, they still represent the ideal of dressing fashionably to satisfy your personal style. The Sartorialist’s blog reads just as a best dressed list should: a prolific splash of styles, from all over the world, the young and the old, the handsome and at times the less-fortunate-looking, but all with an inherent love of clothing, and it always shows.
I do not expect best dressed lists to disappear, and part of me would rather they didn’t. There is a certain guilty pleasure I take out of rankings, especially if it means debating them pointlessly in the name of fashion. As much as this is a note for anyone reading, it’s also a note for myself: one woman’s Wet Seal is another’s Chanel. I find teal, one-sleeved gowns with thigh-slits to be trash, but they happen to be Blake Lively’s treasure. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even in the fashion world.