From “Are You the Messiah?” by Lauren Collins comes this: “Creme -- ruddy-complected, green eyed, and white-haired -- answered.” Complected for “complexioned” has been a disparaged usage for a century; my teachers treated it as hardly better than irregardless. But Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defends it:
Not an error, nor a dialectal term, nor nonstandard—all of which it has been labeled—complected still manages to raise hackles. It is an Americanism, apparently nonexistent in British English. Its currency in American English is attested as early as 1806 (by Meriwether Lewis) and it appears in the works of such notable American writers as Mark Twain, O. Henry, James Whitcomb Riley, and William Faulkner. Complexioned, recommended by handbooks, has less use than complected. Literary use, old and new, slightly favors complected.
The longer entry in M-W's usage dictionary adds: “There seems to be no very substantial objection to the term other than the considerable diffidence American usage writers feel about Americanisms."
Garner's Modern American Usage (2009) also cites usage -- not specifying "literary" -- and comes to a different conclusion: "Today, complexioned is almost three times as common in print sources." He rates complected Stage 3 on his language-change index, meaning it's widespread but still widely suspect.
So did the New Yorker use complected (apparently for the first time) on purpose? Well, as of this writing, the word remains in the digital edition. But that's not much of a clue, because so does the wrong word in Paul Rudnick's "Nutty," in the same issue.
In this piece, a monologue by Mr. Peanut, the Planters legume recalls days of indulging in “wild sex” with other spokesproducts, including Cap’n Crunch and Snuggle, the fabric-softener bear, after which he wondered if he'd gone too far: “What’s next? The Kool-Aid pitcher? Count Chocula? The Geico gekko?” No, not the Geico gekko, Mr. P., because the Geico mascot is a gecko.
(This is nitpicking, of course; but the New Yorker's legendary editing standards have always made its lapses and innovations interesting to copy editors and word watchers. If the magazine endorses complected, it could change the word's rep at a stroke. But there are far more interesting things to ponder in the 11/29 issue, including James Wood, literary critic and drummer (who knew?), on Keith Moon. And in the 11/22 issue, read my friend Laura Shapiro on Eleanor Roosevelt's management of the White House menus, and give thanks that your feasts are so much more festive than poor FDR's were.)