The XX Factor

Such, Such Are the Joys of QVC

Megan McArdle has a great exploration of the joys of TV shopping network QVC in the new issue of the Atlantic . In one telling passage, her fiance asks how the network manages to sell perfume that the viewer can’t smell. The QVC presenter describes the perfume as both “spiritual” and “prayerful,” which sounds like a lot of hooey until it makes complete sense. As McArdle writes:

The [way you sell perfume] is that you tell a story-a story about the viewer, and the product’s place in her life. That’s how my mother knew she wanted color-coded storage containers, and thousands of other viewers knew they wanted perfume they couldn’t smell.

Which brings me to a short article in today’s New York Times about an extremely popular pair of J Brand cargo pants called the “Houlihan”-named for the sassy M.A.S.H. character “Hot Lips” Houlihan. Though writer Cathy Horyn swears that the fit of these trousers is impeccable (“Although their skinny line appears unforgiving, they are very flattering,” she writes), I’m skeptical. The cargo pockets appear to sit right at the thigh-creating extra saddlebags of fabric. But Horyn notes that Rihanna and Jessica Alba have both been photographed wearing the Houlihan. Perhaps the story that Houlihan pants tell their purchasers is that you, too, can cultivate the air of a laid-back celebrity, reclining at brunch in West Hollywood in your low-slung, army-green pants. It might be enough to look past the crimes-against-thighs cargo pants are guilty of perpetrating.