Walk by any magazine rack and undoubtedly, you'll walk by heralded fashion tomes like Vogue, Lucky, W, and more: thick bound copies often belittled for their heavy advertising and high photo-to-writing ratio. Inside, you’ll find waifish, pouting models wearing ridiculously expensive, deliciously bizarre costumes—not clothes—with headlines that seem pithy and shallow: trend forecasts for the season, celebrities posing in designer gowns, tips on how to best flatter the body.
It seems an anonymous writer a decade after the turn of the century felt the same. In a 1911 Atlantic article, she (and this is an assumption on my part, but I will assume the writer is a she) wonders at the oft-pensive look found on many a fashion model's face, the one that seems to look blankly into the distance.
Observe, in this choice publication, the crucial moment when he—in the pergola studied from directions in The Ladies' Own for manufacturing Italian gardens—stands, with elbows correctly bent, a perfect facsimile of 'Gentleman's Afternoon Wear,' on page 2 of the fashion circular. She, in Empire style without folds, is gazing at him with that facial expressionlessness that means a perfect fit. It is most effective, after its kind; but should a man, at this great crisis in life, be thinking quite so hard about the lines of his shoulders? Should she, at this time, which The Ladies' Own would pronounce the supreme moment of a woman's life, be quite so careful to tilt her head in just the way that shows off the under side of her hat?
The dearth in this scene of any emotion, any intellectuality, any sense of the human complexities is obvious, and the author takes note of this as she gleefully tears the fashion magazine of her era apart.