Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's in a purse?

Sometimes I am teased for my love of handbags.  Men certainly don't understand it, until I try to explain to them that some women view purses the way that some men view cars... useful, beautiful, status symbols, something special to cherish.  True, as with cars, some women tend not to covet designer handbags, instead leaning towards something more utilitarian an practical.  They go with the basic model, have one or two that serve their purpose.  A tote from Target or Wal-Mart is all they need.

But for others, purses mean something more.  And the level of luxury is relative.

I remember watching an episode of 'What Not to Wear', when a woman cried that they were going to toss out her busy Vera Bradley bags.  What Stacy and Clinton did not initially realize was that she viewed them as a status bag, something that made a statement because it was a deliberate choice and brand.  It MEANT something to her, more than the clothes did.  (Happily, in my opinion, she purchased a lovely Kate Spade to replace the fabric totes.)  Women find beautiful bags that make them happy at all price points.  While I personally have moved on from my Vera Bradley, I have yet to leave behind my Coach and Dooney bags, though I dabble in Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Longchamp, even Burberry.  I look forward to Chanel, YSL, Dior, Louis Vuitton... but why?

Handbags, purses, whatever you may call them, are important to women.  We carry everything in them.  Our pants aren't equipped with pockets meant to hold things.  Sometimes the pockets are even fake!  We tote our money, makeup, keys, planners, LIVES in our bags.  And even if you're wearing jeans, your purse can transform your outfit into something more luxe.  I look at luxury handbags online like some people look at Mercedes, something to work toward, a beautiful goal.

When I carry one of my designer handbags, I am proud.  The vast majority of them I have painstakingly selected and saved for on my own.  They represent what I have worked for.  I used to scour Chinatown for knockoffs of the same bags, but now I am proud to have discarded the fakes for something real.  It IS different.

In Iraq, my friends and I were in a store that had some knockoff purses.  One of them picked up a bag and asked me what was different between the fake and a real bag.  Immediately, I was able to launch into a checklist of things that make it different...  the quality in hardware, the crooked stitching, the fake, stiff leather, the lack of attention to the inner lining, the asymmetry.  When I carry a bag, I know that some designer sketched for hours to come up with a design, and that actual craftsmanship and quality materials went into its creation.  It is wearable art, and much more practical that a painting hanging on a wall.  I buy the purse because I feel it is beautiful.   I carry it because it makes me feel good.  It makes me feel like I have something that complements me, that complements who I am at any given time.

I know that I sound crazy to many, but I think there will be others out there who can relate.  And maybe it's not purses.  Maybe it's porcelain figurines, shoes, sports jerseys, technology, or something else.  But there are things out there, material things, that are more than meets the eye.  They are important to the beholder, because of the feeling they impart.  So they aren't silly.  They are empowering.


  1. hahaha, I have one purse. One. And to be honest, it took me over a year to find one that I liked for a price that I was OK with. It was probably $20. I don't do the shoe thing either. I think I'm abnormal.

    I think if I were to save my money for anything, it'd be a camera.

  2. I think I have 20, easily! I can't even begin to list the inventory. :)


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