“Is that a Kate Spade?” she abruptly asked me while interrupting the teacher who was speaking in the front of the classroom. Startled and somewhat unsure of the answer, I peaked in my bag and answered, “Ummm, it’s Henri Bendel.”
“I would have said Kate Spade” she countered.
“No- he’s good too”, I replied.
Immediately she hung her head down as everyone around us looked away. She wasn’t embarrassed about what she asked, just embarrassed that no one cared, and that she got a different response than what she expected. I decided to end the conversation and show how I felt about it with my silence. The habit of people asking someone “who” they are wearing is becoming all too common these days. If you are not a friend or close acquaintance the question can be very off putting. I definitely understand why some consider it to be in bad taste, and why the really wealthy don’t talk about money out loud at all. It’s just not any ones’ business.
It’s funny, the same conversation that annoyed me would have made my day a few years back. AWWW, YES! You’ve acknowledged that I am carrying a somewhat expensive bag. No, it’s not Chanel, nonetheless it also isn’t from a bargain department store. But even back then I never cared about what someone else wore, and after a while I would become a little uncomfortable with the attention if I could sense there was some shade behind the consistent “shout-outs” about what I was wearing. My mindset was simply, if I could get the best, I would. And I still see nothing wrong with that.
The exchange caused me to reflect on a decision I made over the weekend. Do I splurge and buy a bag I really love or do I get two I really like and need (in my opinion)? I hesitantly chose the latter. Afterwards I wasn’t that confident about my smart choice and tucked them away in our back room. The next day I pulled them out and discovered that I truly loved them. I was proud I decided to do something different. Because I’ve grown to care about more things than accessories, I am slightly removed from all the feelings of infatuation an expensive bag can bring. I now notice that some people just want to know what bag you have so they can attempt to imitate your style, the status they think you have, and either discredit or give credit to the individual wearing it. Like many, I too enjoy a good conversation about fashion, but discussing it just to keep score I can do without. It is unfortunate people don’t as quickly want to mimic kindness. I guess that cost too much?
I’ve been the young girl who couldn’t afford to shop in the retail store where she worked and settled for knock offs. I’ve been the young lady that couldn’t wait to make expensive purchases on “real” things. I have nothing against “high end” or “low end”. I love all bags. But, I am careful not to confuse the bag with the person. Contrary to what the latest songs tell you, a woman with the latest bag and “mean shoe game” does not qualify them to be a part of any special group of people. We are already qualified, and shouldn’t need a bag to convince ourselves of that or anyone else.
A person wearing a big ticket item and having other tangible goods does not make them a better person or a bad person. And by all means please don’t take it as a badge of honor declaring how much money you think they have, often times it is quite the opposite.
Rachel Bryant Lundy