Tilting at Windmills

January/February 2012 Life inside the 1 percent

By Charles Peters

The New York Times is, without doubt, the nation’s best newspaper. Sometimes, however, its need to cater to its more affluent readers, the targets of much of the paper’s advertising, can have embarrassing consequences. A recent example is a “What I Wore” column by Muffie Potter Aston, who the Times describes as a “mainstay of the city’s charity circuit” living “on the Upper East Side with her husband, the plastic surgeon Dr. Sherrell Aston.” The Times allots two columns, running the entire length of the page, to her diary for one week. The following, I can assure you, is typical:

“Dressed for lunch at Le Cirque.… I put on a creamy white Dolce & Gabbana sleeveless turtleneck dress and draped a cream Christian Dior silk and lace sweater over my shoulders. I added cream Manolo Blahnik heels and a cream snakeskin Lambertson Truex bag.

“At night I was co-chair for the opening gala of the American Ballet Theater.… I wore the most divine Badgley Mischka Couture silver sequin mermaid-style dress with double tulle overlays. I carried a light and dark silver Judith Leiber minaudière with this Art Deco design. My daughters each said I looked like a stunning princess.”

Ms. Aston managed to drop designer and luxury brand names twenty-eight times in her seven-day diary.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.


  • Marty on January 11, 2012 7:49 AM:

    Oh, the burdens of a "job creator".....so many tough decisions....what designer frock to wear today! At some point, somewhere, having the gluttonous excess of these rich fucks shoved in our faces is going to go too far...

  • Brian T. Raven on January 14, 2012 8:59 PM:

    Embarrassing consequences indeed. Muffie Potter Aston is surely a very nice person, but after blithely sharing such helium-filled milestones from her "career", she's left herself wide open for a corrective skewering. Well administered. May she take note and find inspiration. Mr. Sulzberger too.

  • ceilidth on January 30, 2012 11:46 AM:

    I think you made a minor mistake--you assumed that the STYLE section was not simply an advertising section. The kind of advertising in the section varies from Muffie's explicit description of her shopping to the wedding announcements which advertise the weddings of Muffie types. There are a few other things in there--my preference being for the weird relationships chronicled every week in the essays but mainly it's there for the self absorbed among the 1% to reassure themselves that they are in the loop and are buying the right stuff. Of course we all do that but out in my neck of the woods, the big style news is carharts for women.

  • Mark Garrity on February 15, 2012 12:40 PM:

    Where I live in suburban Chicago the Sunday Tribune seems to be targeted at wealthy matrons of the Gold Coast or those aspiring to be. I guess they know their audience but it gives me no reason to buy it.

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