The List that Changed My Mind

There are a thousand ways to waste time on the internet, but there can’t be a bigger time suck than “the list.”  You know, those “well-researched” space fillers on free sites that enrich our lives with things like “The 10 best cars for people who like ice cream and believe in astrology,” or “The 15 worst foods for people living in Duluth, Minnesota.”

Until last week I’d never really thought too much about web lists, but two things came to my attention that have made me vow to never read another list.  First, the letter from the publisher in this month’s Harper’s magazine was a well-thought-out defense of the magazine’s continued policy of not giving their content away on the internet.  He makes the point that “good publishing, good editing and good writing cost money.”  He laments the way “content” has replaced prose and poetry.  And one of the biggest offenders is the list that pretends to be an article.

This point was really driven home when I came across an interesting sounding list, “50 Dresses that Changed Fashion.”  It’s not to be confused with a book of a similar name, 50 Dresses that Changed the World, though it does look as if there is quite a bit of over-lap.  Sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to link to the list, but you can google the title and find it, if you must.

There are some dresses on the list that one really can’t quibble with, like Chanel’s Little Black Dress, Diane Von Furstenberg’s jersey wrap dress, and Princess Diana’s wedding dress.  But please, someone explain to me how Lady Gaga’s meat dress changed fashion.  Why is Angelina Jolie’s “leg dress” on this list, and how did that dress change fashion?  Also quite puzzling are a 2006 LED dress by Hussein Chalayan, Rudi Gernreich’s topless dress (yep, I wear them all the time), Victoria Beckham’s first collection of 2008, and Mary Katrantzou’s 2011 ‘Room’ collection.

And it is important to say that there was no mention of Dior and the New Look, Christian LaCroix and his poof skirt, or Poiret’s corsetless silhouette.  Where is Chanel’s suit, and Yves Saint Laurent’s safari dress?

But lesson learned.  I’ll no longer listen to any lists.  The next time I’m tempted by “10 foods that will help you live to be 150,” I’ll go get myself a cookie instead of reading.

Edited because I forgot to insert my image, which, by the way, has little to do with the list in question, but it does point out how dumb lists can be.


Filed under Uncategorized, Viewpoint

32 responses to “The List that Changed My Mind

  1. I saw that link too and thought I might forward it to you – but after doing way too many clicks on it I realized a lot of it was just a poor excuse for them to get us to click on the next page so we could be presented with more advertisements. Not that I even look at the ads. But still – I know exactly where you’re coming from!


  2. Well said Lizzie….and Mod Betty.
    It is not just the internet…we keep getting HEARING AID flyers and junk mail at our house with inviting statements on the outside of the envelope,,… fortunately deafness is (I think) the only ailment we don’t have at my house. It’s the same game. Wish they too, would stop.


  3. S. Geiger

    Leaving out Coco’s black dress is a travesty. Angelina, I wouldn’t waste time clicking. I don’t get the fascination with her. Not to be rude but to me she’s a husband stealer and a tramp. Can’t decide, Lizzie, if it’s more fun to wake up to a new post from you or to end my day with same.


  4. Diana Coleman

    I love the list of fashion rules. When was that printed? Is there even one that we don’t consistently ignore now?


  5. No lists for me … the one you placed speaks for itself.


  6. Thank you! This is marvelous!

    And I think that people believe that if a dress is outrageous (such as Gaga’s meat dress as you mentioned) it automatically “changes” things. But it clearly doesn’t. No one is making meat dresses, nor is anyone taking inspiration and incorporating fabric that is printed with or made to look like meat into clothing!


  7. Wondernuts

    I agree some of those lists can be nonsense. And I always disagree with something on there. No more lists. Just give me some
    good ol’ fashion advice and stories. 🙂


    • Yes, just last week my husband and I were finding fault with the “10 best dogs for families.” I’ve been bitten by 2 different dogs from one of the breeds on the list!


  8. Fashion Witness

    I read that list, believed it was real, and thought, “This would be interesting if it had a date on it.” In the 60s, Op Art & fashions that mixed patterns and checks of different scales were revolutionary ideas — and not easy to do well. I also remember when fashion magazines began teaching us not to automatically buy shoes and a matching purse — until then, shoe stores usually carried co-ordinating handbags. And then I read the comments and realized you had played April Fool on us in August — well, why not? I wonder how often your list will get re-blogged! As for “when to wear white” — I recommend John Water’s movie Serial Mom, in which Kathleen Turner knows just what to do about women who break these fashion rules….


  9. I’m relieved to know that you made up that list 30 minutes ago. I sometimes feel guilty when we wear our black shoes after Memorial Day or before Labor Day. lol


  10. Sometimes these lists have no sense of history at all. The most popular song of all time listed as One Directions last hit for example. I love the idea that Gaga’s meat dress changed fashion. Oh that must be all those Charcuterie dresses that area around at the moment, huh?


  11. Teresa

    Lists are always an ‘interesting’ read. They usually boil down to the opinion of whoever wrote it. Thanks for sharing this one Lizzie. The Gaga mention made me laugh. 😉


  12. I saw the same 50 dresses list and I must say, we are of one mind Lizzie! Now you may have printed that first list 30 minutes ago, but those were all rules to live by when I was a young teen.


  13. I couldn’t agree with you more Lizzie! And I hate slideshows too. They are a complete waste of time. Today’s writing online and in magazines DOES not allow for poetry and prose! I know this firsthand as a writer for a newspaper. The editors want quick, catchy sound bites using words like “adorbs”, “must-haves”, etc. It’s why I keep a blog – there I can use my own voice and hopefully some good prose. What a great post and thank you!


  14. By the way, is there a link to the Harper’s editor’s piece online? I’ld love to read it.


  15. Hear hear! I especially hate the slideshow lists. You are so right about the clicks and advertising. I used to write for an online arts and entertainment site and ‘content’ was just padding between ads. And headlines/titles were just hooks to get people (a.k.a. ‘users’) to click.


  16. I used to edit a niche magazine (for players and makers of violin-family instruments, if you were wondering) and I remember the time we had a consultant in to talk to us about cover lines that sell. Sad to say, lists and numbers sell. I suppose it’s because our brains like a graspable quantity. “Five Great Things to Improve Yourself!” sells better than “How to Improve Yourself” because we think, five things? I can manage five things!


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