The Best and Worst Magazine Covers of March 2016

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s entirely untrue when it comes to magazines. That’s why each month, we dissect covers far and wide using our Anna Wintour rating system.

We fizzle right out of the awards season inferno into the downpour of spring fashion of the March issues, which come in second only to September issues as the most important of the industry’s year. The wins this month are great examples of when it all comes together and results in a single image worthy of more than just a lingering glance. The losses are … best described by the see-no-evil monkey emoji.

Harper’s Bazaar UK

Harper's Bazaar UK March 2016
Harper's Bazaar UK
To prove that everything in fashion does come back into style, Harper’s Bazaar UK saved on production costs with their cover editorial this month by simply republishing beautiful old images of Nicole Kidman. The left image was taken somewhere around the time Grace of Monaco was painfully relegated to air on Lifetime, and the subscriber’s cover was a long-lost test scene shot in the months leading up to Eyes Wide Shut.
2.5-ANNAS

Glamour

Glamour March 2016
Glamour
Good Goop! Who’s owning the bad Photoshopping mistake that is the front panels of this dress, Gwyneth? What about the bad retouching that makes your head look it was uncoupled from another photo and unconsciously plopped onto this one?
1,5-ANNAS

Marie Claire UK

Marie Claire UK March 2016
Marie Claire UK
Last month, Chloe Grace Moretz wore this dress on the cover of American Marie Claire. In what world does it make sense to put Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore in the same damn dress? At that point, it’s definitely the dress’ fault. And maybe because her eyes got lost during makeup, Julianne couldn’t see clear enough to avoid this horrible faux pas.
1,5-ANNAS

W

W Magazine March 2016
W Magazine
Ever the Jan Brady of Taylor Swift’s girl squad, Selena Gomez here has been the victim of a terrible printing error! (Maybe The Gentlewoman, below, used up all the yellow ink this month, who knows.) Obviously Steven Klein chose the wrong Instagram filter for this cover (They got rid of Kelvin for a reason!), and thus this quickly went from American dream to weird horny teenage nightmare.
1-ANNA

Glamour UK

Glamour UK March 2016
Glamour UK
Poor Lily James can’t catch a break. Just because she said she was less stylish than her boyfriend doesn’t mean they had to style her that way! Lady Rose is definitely dead. Long live Lady Rose!
HALF-ANNA

Town and Country

Town and Country March 2016
Town and Country
This Lily cover is definitely less offensive than the last, and after her turn Natasha Rostova in the BBC’s recent adaptation of War and Peace, the headline about her is true enough. It’s just a shame they didn’t remove all those fabric scraps that got caught on the front of this dress before they took the picture. Long live the costume department!
2.5-ANNAS

Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan March 2016
Cosmopolitan
This is refreshingly hot and (mostly) empowering Cosmo cover. Jessica Alba’s taking us to a happy place in this practical office-to-beach-to-club look, and unlike Selena Gomez on the cover of W, rocks the hell out of that red bikini top.
2.5-ANNAS

Elle

Elle March 2016
Elle
Brie Larson wins this month’s Never-Looked-Better award, and as she’s favored to take home the Oscar for Best Actress this weekend, why the hell shouldn’t she?! We may never hear from her again after Room. We’re loving Elle’s bigger format and hope this refresh continues to serve up more captivating cover stars like this. (Maybe no more little teases on top of the name of the magazine, though?)
3.5-ANNAS

Elle UK

Elle UK March 2016
Elle UK
In all honesty, how long after this cover came out do you think Karlie’s bestie T-Swift texted her with a “I’m going to let you keep modeling, but you know red is TOTALLY my color.” And Elle even gave her a blank space for Karlie to write her name. Taylor’s just jealous that she’s never looked this good on the cover of Elle. #girlsquadwar
3.5-ANNAS

The Gentlewoman

The Gentlewoman March 2016
The Gentlewoman
This awesome British publication has produced some stellar covers in its brief but expansive existence, and this time around its editors realized that Kirsten Dunst hasn’t been better (or happier, it seems) in recent memory than when she’s working on Fargo.
3-ANNAS

Interview Germany

Interview Germany March 2016
Interview Germany
Speaking of Kirsten Dunst, look! Krysten Ritter is doing her best Kirsten Dunst impression here. And Krysten’s outfit is doing its best interpretation of a Lars Von Triers film, and her hair may actually be a part of the outfit. Why so serious?!
2.5-ANNAS

InStyle

InStyle March 2016
InStyle
InStyle didn’t just launch a redesign with this March fashion issue, they leaped lightyears into the future with a new style, tone and visual direction for the publication. Shailene Woodley comes in a close second to Brie Larson for the Never-Looked-Better honor, and her crafty, playful dress raises the bar for InStyle to a level of sophistication. And these are words no one’s ever said before: It’s a tough call between this and New York magazine’s spring fashion cover for the best cover of this spring fashion season.
4-ANNAS

Latina

Latina March 2016
Latina
Becky G is ready and coming for all the award shows. Ready to sweep TV awards next year in this stunning red-carpet look, and ready for that Power Rangers nomination next year with this Oscar-gold chair. (Also, the best range of cover teases this month is definitely from Dolores Huerta to Becky G on the same cover.)
2.5-ANNAS

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair March 2016
Vanity Fair
There is such a concentration of power in this one image that you can ignore the weird quirks of this cover (the arm coming through O in Hollywood, the way J-Law is holding on to the top of the 6) and the restrained styling. Vanity Fair keeps up their winning cover streak with this edition of their annual Hollywood portfolio and its a three-page fold-out cover. Spoiler alert: The Charlotte Rampling photo inside is the best. And the story about how the shoot went down is worthy of an Oscar nod itself. (At least a short documentary, please!)
4-ANNAS

Harper’s Bazaar

Harper's Bazaar March 2016
Harper's Bazaar
There is much bemoaning in this column that modern magazine covers are boring – lacking the excitement that comes with fashion, model, composition and execution blend in a way that fully engages the viewer. This Barrymore flambé does all of that, and that’s in no small part to her casting in this cheeky moment that’s so reminiscent of old Hollywood and an age when covers were more art than simple newsstand sales device. With the softness and movement of this dress, the whole thing is indeed, completely, on fire. (And, of course, if this subscriber’s cover turns you off, there is the other, more grocery checkout lane friendly option.)
4-ANNAS

OUT

OUT Magazine March 2016
OUT Magazine
There is definitely no disputing Jussie Smollett is more than just Empire’s darling, but you wouldn’t know that because we can barely see him smoldering through all those slightly transparent words. With an amazing photo like this, nothing more needs to be said. Apparently “40 pages of Spring Fashion” just couldn’t wait!
3-ANNAS

Vogue

Vogue March 2016
Vogue
Just looking at this invokes the opening chords of “When We Were Young.” And what more of a revolution could you ask for than this great Annie Leibovitz shot of Adele that’s not just a tight headshot! But what is that weird solid blue line across the bottom for the Hillary Clinton tease? Could that not have just fallen under the big main headline so we could see more of this fabulous Burberry dress? Hmm.
3.5-ANNAS

GQ

GQ March 2016
GQ
We sadly can’t pretend Biebs and his pervy wisps of facial hair don’t inspire certain feelings. And it’s cute that he’s old enough to nab a March GQ cover. Or is it that GQ is freshening things up enough that he became a viable cover star? Either way, no one’s saying sorry about this one. (Except maybe the stylist, for all those rings.)
2.5-ANNAS

Marie Claire

Marie Claire March 2016
Marie Claire
Since they asked Dakota Johnson about literally everything, do you think they asked her to look so surprised that her shoulders are *gasp* so exposed? This cover is all about selling her face, maybe some lipstick and definitely that hairspray, but once you turn the page, you’ll forget about all of that that. Just like Dakota forgot why she was even doing at this photo shoot at all while she was sitting for it.
2-ANNAS

Attitude

Attitude March 2016
Attitude
Ok, this is just an honorable mention because there’s nothing particularly noteworthy about this Gus Kenworthy cover other than the fact that … GUS KENWORTHY. And that’s it for this month. Because we fainted.