There comes a point in life when you have to put aside some of your dreams. And I hereby officially relinquish my secret, long-held dream of being the "Lucky Girl."
In her memoir Free Gift with Purchase, Lucky's beauty editor, Jean Godrey-June, talks about the fact that women are always approaching her and angling to be the Lucky Girl. For the uninitiated, the "Lucky Girl" is a young woman featured in every issue of Lucky magazine who talks a bit about her style. There's a spread of some of her favorite current pieces and a list of her go-to sources and inspirations. Often she is some kind of creative type. Now, when I read that Godfrey was besieged with requests, I felt a fool: Everyone had my secret dream! Besides, I'd never have actually presumed I could be the Lucky Girl, so exalted a place had it come to occupy in my innermost mind — and the chutzpah of someone daring to not merely think so, but voice it, blew me away!
Now, don't get me wrong, I have other dreams too, plenty of which I'm not giving up any time soon. But this was my fantasy-dream, the way some might envision, say, meeting James Franco, or winning a date with Tad Hamilton, or kissing Conrad Birdie: something that I knew would never happen, but which I dreamed about nonetheless.
If I had to analyze why this became a dream, we need to go back some years, to Lucky's premiere issue, a decade ago. I was going through a bad patch — my first bout with depression, a lousy summer job, fighting with friends, and, incidentally, feeling in my high-school wardrobe like a frumpy child playing at college. To make matters worse, I'd just had to leave some event to run for the last train out of Grand Central to my parents' house in Westchester — an indignity with which any suburban 18-year-old can sympathize. (And my folks were mad that I was coming home so late, because my mom "couldn't sleep until we were home," so it was really lose-lose.) I made it just as the doors were closing, flopped into the navy-blue naugahyde seat, opened the new magazine about shopping, flipped through the glossy, perfumed pages and there she was: the Lucky Girl.
I wish I could remember who she was, but I do know that she seemed about a world away from my existence. It was an early version of what I now think of as the "Blog Effect," where a small, curated snapshot of someone's existence makes you feel like their whole life is so appealing, so picturesque, so together (even if you know logically that it's not) that you feel a surge of mingled awe and envy that you'd never admit to out loud. I imagined The Lucky Girl, with her defined style and decisive opinions, living a charmed life kind of like Zooey Deschanel's in that cotton commercial. In the words of that movie-goer in Singin' in the Rain, staring up at a silent Lena Lamont, "She's so refined. I think I'll kill myself."
Why this fantasy persisted even as I grew up and out and got some decent clothes I could not say, but many's the time I've whiled away the minutes at a CitiBank or at the passport office by modfiying my imaginary list, mentally intoning "Favorite websites...eBay for vintage costume jewelry; dearfieldbinder.com for staples; Princesse Tam-Tam for lingerie...these days I'm very inspired by Powell-Pressberger's heroines...this blouse has an almost vintage-y quality that would work well with tougher pieces..." And then have to lie when people ask me why I look so starry-eyed and dreamy.
But no more! If you want to know why I'm a) admitting to this and b) retiring it, well, the reasons are manifold. First, I am admitting it so that the embarrassment will force me to face my folly — I am rather like a zealous Victorian school-master in this regard. Next: I am getting too long in the tooth and I don't want to be some Baby Jane-type fantasizing about a magazine spread. Thirdly, and this kind of goes back to something my dad once said about my brother's unhealthy (literally) obsession with the Mets: "I wish," he said, "that he also had a hobby he had some control over." While fantasy is important, so is keeping perspective. The Cliff's Notes version, on a good day, is that I have — wait for it! — become who I wanted to be.
Besides, now we have Polyvore. And anyway, I'm going to be much too busy having tea with my friends Joan Didion and Simon Doonan. (Baby steps, okay?)