Carrying the Economy on My Shoulders: Winter Purse Considerations

Angelina and her daughter Zahara carry matching purses

It’s been in the 60s and unseasonably gorgeous outside for the past few weeks (on and off of course) in the windy city.  However, it snowed over the weekend.  Therefore, I think I can say it without causing 5 inches of snow tonight…fall is coming to an end.  Of course it’s been winter in shopping centers since September.  Macy’s even has their Christmas decorations up!  Everywhere I look, I see deep jewel tone sweaters, and the ubiquitous off-white (I will not call it winter hite, it’s bad enough I declared winter, I’m not pushing my luck) purse. 

Like any good midwestern woman, I’ve been holding off buying my winter purse until I can actually pitch the cute and colorful summer purse that I’ve been toting around since June.  I’m sooo sick of that purse.

The bonus of accepting that it is almost winter, is accepting that it is time for a new fall/winter bag!  Since, like my spring/summer purse, I will be carrying it for 2 seasons – everyday – this is a mission.  A mission I enjoy immensely.  There are several factors that go into this:  level of commitment, size, color, and price.

Now some of you might wonder why I don’t have at least a couple winter purses.  Maybe a brown and a black, or a going out clutch…Simple answer – I can hardly keep track of my things as it is.  I absolutely love the big purse trend right now, but already, whenever I can’t find something (no matter how small or large!), my fiancee’s response is “Did you check your purse?”, and  the sad thing is 1) Yes I did, and 2) It’s usually there when I check the second time at his persistent request.

Since I can’t even search one purse effectively, I’ve never been ambitious enough to switch purses regularly.  As for going out, that’s what financee’s and pockets are for.  A clutch that I am not used to carrying is just asking to be left at the bar.

Now if money was no object, I could easily find the perfect bag (hello Michael Kors!).  But it is.  Different people deal with this in different ways. My mother always carries a Coach purse (around $500 and up), and has been since back when they were sheek as opposed to trendy, like they are now (same price though).  In the past, you couldn’t tell a purse was a Coach apart from the leather tag that hung off the zipper or shoulder strap.  Now they have obvious hardware, and many of them have the signature C’s all over them.  The result is that everyone knows how much you spent on your purse.

However, my mom always said that a good haircut and a good purse are worth spending money on.  You wear them everyday.  I always liked her reasoning.  Still, my parents are in a different income bracket than I am.

Another set of people in a different income barcket than me are most of the people I work with (the joys of being an English major amongst Finance majors).  I am from the suburbs, but currently reside in the city.  While the area I live in is more affordable, and overtly trendy (Bucktown for you Chicago natives), the area I work in (the Loop) is affluent.  There are 2 items people who start working downtown want to invest in:  coats and purses.  A Coach purse is considered very middle-of-the-road-suburban for individuals who work in the Loop and reside in the city (as opposed to working in the Loop and commuting to the suburbs).  You are now getting into Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, etc.  And while you see these brands in both city and suburb, they communicate different things respecrively.

The interesting thing about all those brands (including Coach) is that there are immitations.  I would argue that there are more people carrying knock-offs than the real thing.  And if there are so many knock-offs, doesn’t that make the real thing less special?  It certainly calls attention to how overpriced a real Louis Vuitton is.  When I walk down the street, I assume they are all fake.

This topic actually came up during a work dinner I had to go to with my co-workers.   They all live in various areas of the city (close to work since they work about 80 hours a week).  One woman, who lives in the Loop, was carrying a beach tote sized Gucci purse.  Another woman I work with just couldn’t get enough of that bag. And it really marked a difference, to me, between them and me.

Besides the fact that they all loved escargot (it’s okay, I guess), talked about the fancy restaurants they had tried with their significant others (I’m more of a beer and chicken wings kinda girl, which by the way is not cool to people like this, but trashy, so when in Rome…), they all thought this purse was a status symbol and worth the money.  I disagree.

My boss asked me on the way to the restaurant “What brand of purse is that?  My wife has one that looks just like it but bigger.”  Now mind you, the man makes at least a million a year (that might just be his bonus).  I replied, “Um, Fossil.”  Of course he had no idea what that was.  Not that he’s a fashionista or anything, but I guarantee his wife was not carrying a Fossil purse.

It’s not that I can’t splurge on a purse if I want it to be the most expensive thing I own.  A $1200 Gucci bag is out of my price range, but I could probably do a moderate Michael Kors.  I just don’t want to.  I mean, it would bother me a little less if you couldn’t tell it was a Michael Kors (which is actually why I like that brand – it’s a little more understated, yet sheek and trendy).  The thing that struck me in looking at the Gucci bag was less its beauty and more the fact that, instantly, upon looking at it, we all knew how much she spent on her purse.  To me, if that’s the case, then you aren’t carrying a Gucci bag on your shoulder.  You are carrying $1200 on your shoulder.

I would just rather people notice me because the purse completes my look, rather than be a walking advertisement, or let everyone know what income bracket I belong to (or pretend to belong to).

Basically, I do want a fabulous functional purse. But it should be fabulous in a way that causes people to notice me – not how much my purse costs.

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One response to “Carrying the Economy on My Shoulders: Winter Purse Considerations

  1. Love this bag though I’m not a fan of white bags. Zahara is such a cutie.

    Thanks for your comment!

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