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I'm not sure you can - especially now - insist on a single, centralized "Best Dressed List"; nor am I sure you ever could - I believe Lambert's was best known and most authoritative, but hardly an isolated case (at the very least, the Hollywood "Worst Dressed" List garnered nearly as much PR). Lambert, by the way, willed the list to one of your faves, whose name escapes me, and to Vanity Fair, which is why they publish the list annually as they have for the past 5 years or so.

I'd also take issue, just slightly, with the whole notion of "Best Dressed": as we've discussed, it favors wealth, not to mention, especially in Lambert's case, a preference for a very Eurocentric, white notion of beauty and fashion sense. Babe Paley, Slim Keith, the Duchess of Windsor, Jackie Onassis - God love 'em, but they also represent notions of concentrated wealth and class superiority that are, in their way, also quite troubling. The very things we celebrate in a more democratized notion of fashion - where creativity and ability to work within budgetary limits matter as much as a good eye and swell taste - are clearly at odds with traditional notions of what it is to be Best Dressed.

And it's telling, I think, that the "official" list belongs to VF, and not to Vogue or Bazaar; a reminder, really, that the list is as much social arbitrage and a matter of name recognition over true style and deeply rooted ideas of fashion. And I think there's a constant bind for the fashion magazines - you need a vehicle to recognize who, and what, is truly fashionable. If you can't create your own list... what other option do you have?

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