09.24.12

From ‘The Hills’ to Over the Hill: Lauren Conrad’s Premature Aging

The reality TV star has gone from edgy on ‘The Hills’ to boring fashion and DIY videos—and sporting looks fit for a grandma, says Anna Klassen. See the photos.

Update: I’m a big fan of Lauren Conrad. I think she’s gorgeous, chic, and she has a huge fan base. She’s a breath of fresh air from the Courtney Stodden’s of the world, and she seems like a genuinely nice gal. She's handled her transition from reality TV star to the real world with grace and poise. But this is not a tribute to the girl next door, and I hope you read it with humor.

Lauren Conrad has become synonymous with the doughnut bun, an obsession with pearls, peachy glossed lips, and a milky manicure. It’s hard not to wonder: has she become an old lady?

On Laguna Beach, the MTV reality show branded as “The Real Orange County”, high school senior Lauren Conrad or “LC” as she was known to her friends, had a bit of an edge—she was the overriding voice of the show, and we all noticed she was secretly trying to steal arch-nemesis Kristen’s studly surfer boyfriend Stephen.

And On her Laguna spinoff The Hills, Conrad, now an adult and known as Lauren (initials are for teenyboppers), was victimized by frenemies and had her heart broken by douchebag Jason Wahler; She turned down a trip to Paris with her internship at Teen Vogue (for said douchebag), and makes life-long enemies after being accused of making a sex-tape. Drama was her currency.

But now, out of the reality TV lime light, the flawed but likable leading lady has chosen a different path. With her internship at Teen Vogue and a few semesters at FIDM to boot, fashion seemed like the most plausible path for Conrad to pursue. She designed her first clothing line—yawningly dubbed The Lauren Conrad Collection—and then, like any successful reality TV star, created a line of moderately-priced clothing for Kohl’s.

Her most recent collection launched in 2011, paper crown, includes long dresses, big bows, pastels, high-waisted pants, and other granny essentials. As her website boasts, the collection features “silk charmeuse, chiffon, and stretch wovens.” Oh, and lace—lots of lace—but in a non-Victoria’s Secret, tablecloth-doily kind of way. Not only has her personal style aged several decades, but she also dabbles in DIY crafts in a section of her website entitled “Crafty Creations.” Conrad’s transformation from heartbreaker LC to fashion designer came at the price of a drastically boring evolution in style, harkening back to an older generation of chokingly-buttoned collars and half-inch heels. Leaving behind the bikini tops and cut-off Abercrombie jeans for more fashion-forward items, the 26-year-old designer may have gone too far. While we appreciate she didn’t take the Heidi Montag body-transformation route, her style has evolved from youthful beach bum to old-lady frump.

Yet Conrad still has a huge audience, with more than 546,604 Facebook “likes” to her name, and almost 3million Twitter followers. And speaking of Twitter, her latest tweets, including, “When in doubt…just add a bow!” (124 retweets) and “So tired…” (1,886 retweets) make us wonder why everyone else isn’t falling asleep.

On her website, a self-indulgent tribute to all things LC, Conrad writes a letter to her devotees: “LaurenConrad.com isn’t just any old website...Think of it as your front-row VIP pass to all things lovely and chic.” She also “wrote” a few books, and the biography on her site reminds us: “Additionally Lauren has added best selling ‘author’ to her resume.”

One of these bestsellers includes 2010’s Style, a photo-heavy compilation of recycled style tips from established icons like Jackie O and Marilyn. “Don’t be afraid to take your pieces to a tailor to achieve your perfect fit,” she writes. Further fashion hand-holding continues, and when she does contribute her two cents, it’s often an infliction of moral preference: “Cleavage” she writes. “Subtlety is really important here since anything overly revealing gives off a slightly trashy vibe…never show more than three-quarters of an inch of shadow.” But wait, there’s more: “If your top is loose and low-cut, make sure you’re not flashing everyone when you bend over.”

For a first date, Conrad suggests wearing lipstick. That way, “it discourages the guy from going in for a kiss, which is convenient since I try to stand by the no-kissing-on-the-first-date rule.” And with Conrad releasing a companion to Style, entitled Beauty, in mid-October, we anticipate more weighty makeup tips.

Aside from blatant self-promotions, Conrad shares her fashion, beauty, and unbelievably snore-worthy DIY ideas on her website.

Jezebel recently ripped the bun aficionado a new one when they condemned Conrad for destroying almost a dozen books to make a “bookshelf box” in her gag-worthy “Crafty Creations.” But Jezebel wasn’t the only one who spoke out on behalf of the hate crime against books. Author Lemony Snicket, whose novels—A Series of Unforunate Events—Conrad shredded during craft time, spoke about the truly unfortunate event: “It has always been my belief that people who spend too much time with my work end up as lost souls, drained of reason, who lead lives of raving emptiness and occasional lunatic violence. What a relief it is to see this documented.”

Apparently the negative discourse was too much bad press, and Conrad subsequently took down the video.

Conrad doesn’t have a history of drug addiction or a weekend of leaked naked photos to warrant this kind of extreme conservative rebranding.

But her book-destroying faux pas is probably her most exciting DIY idea to date. Some read-before-bedtime ideas include: “Cheese Grater Earring Stand” (A good way to bloody your hands before putting in a pair of pearly white studs?) “Flower Arranging” (For those of us born before the turn of the 20th century.) “Hang A Wall Collage” (…) and “Bow Lamp”—which literally consists of tying a bow around a lamp.

So please, riddle me this: Why would a young woman with a considerable teen to collage—excuse me, college—aged fan base abandon her loyal followers for the throws of old-lady crafts and chokingly-buttoned collars? She doesn’t boast a history of drug addiction or a weekend of leaked naked photos to warrant this kind of extreme conservative rebranding. She is a young, gorgeous girl living in Hollywood in her mid-twenties, and while not revealing an excess of cleavage is refreshing, giving tutorials on how to make bib-necklaces (WTF is a bib necklace?!) is simply dull.

The way she presents herself, in these videos, on the red carpet or snapped by paparazzi, is painfully uninteresting. We know, regardless of the occasion, that she will be sporting a fresh, porcelain face, a nude or red lip, and a single swipe of eyeliner on her upper lid that extends just beyond her eye line. In photographs, a slight tilt to the head, one hand placed strategically on a hip is completed with a forced half-smile. Lauren Conrad is, in a word—predictable.