Cover to Cover: Reeling in the Years

Few leisure activities are as pleasurable or informative as flipping through old magazines. They offer a window into the past, transporting us back to eras we knew as children or that we never lived through but can via the magic of the magazine. In many cases, magazine covers alone are enough to trip us back through them, offering often provocative glimpses of the fads of the day and the local and global concerns that shaped people’s lives.

With that in mind, let’s take a brief stroll through the decades in magazine covers, starting sixty-odd years ago in the mid-twentieth century, on up to the recent past, the first two decades of this century. These selections are not meant to be wholly representative of their eras; they’re just fantastic covers that I felt were worth sharing. That said, I’m pretty sure each one does say an awful lot about the decade in which it was produced. I steered clear of political imagery, mostly because I’m utterly exhausted by the politicized world we live in at this point. Also, a quick aside: I worked at WaldenBooks in the 1990s when that Cindy Crawford and KD Lang Vanity Fair hit the shelves and I still remember how transgressive it felt for that time. It probably seems tame now, but then it was positively momentous.


Sure I’m obsessed with Bettie Page but I read Flirt for the articles.
Marilyn and interplanetary saucers, all for 20 cents!
She seems thirsty.


Elizabeth Montgomery had, quite easily, one of the most beautiful faces in history.
Ursula Andress for a subject that was fairly taboo for the time.
She seems thirsty too.


Good morning, Angels.
Lou Reed was called a lot of things in his time, but “King of the Slag Heap” might be the best of them.
Tina: Pure charisma.


Camels and mud holes? Goodness, Heather Thomas was into some freaky stuff.
Flying the friendly skies, indeed.
His Purpleness.


One of the most iconic magazine covers of the 90s.
You had to know I’d squeeze in some Michelle Pfeiffer love. This is definitely one of my favorite photos of her, too.
Exquisite shot of Elisabeth Shue from the movie that should’ve won her an Oscar, Leaving Las Vegas.


Janet: an absolute smoke show.
I love the simple, uncluttered elegance of this cover composition. Kate Moss’s flawless face doesn’t hurt either.
Good morning, Angels.


She’s not a cartoon; she’s Complex.
There’s sensationalized ad copy a-go-go on this cover but still Nina Dobrev manages to be the only thing you notice.
We can be heroes.

One thought on “Cover to Cover: Reeling in the Years

  1. Lovely selection, just seeing Elizabeth Montgomery is enough to brighten the darkest day. It was a magazine cover that sparked my infatuation with Pfeiffer. I hadn’t watched any of her films yet, had no idea who she was, but just seeing her face on the cover of a Sunday supplement was enough to set my heart racing. Funnily enough it was a photograph from the shoot you feature here. 1988 by Terry O’Neill.

    Liked by 1 person

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