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Should Handbags Control My Purse Strings?

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Dani Klein Modisett: I don't know how I could have missed it, since the invitation read "Bag Lunch Fundraiser," but that's how far handbags are from my mind.

Because I was completely surprised last week when I arrived at this Mansion (capital M) in Beverly Hills and found my ID being checked, clearing me for access to a roped-off area where table after table was piled high with the fanciest and most expensive leather handbags I had seen since the last time I walked through the purse department in Nordstrom on my way to the bathroom. (FYI, it's the nicest bathroom at The Grove shopping mall in Los Angeles.)

woman gawking at handbag prices

One time, just for kicks, I stopped and looked at one of the bags hung like a Christmas ornament on some kind of accessory tree and casually turned over the price tag. The first one read $2,645.00. I laughed out loud, like I always do when something surprises me and makes me nervous. The fact that a price tag equal to a mortgage payment with some utilities thrown in exists for something that you keep a lipstick, a phone, and some emergency tissues in did both to me. It had to be a misprint, right? So I flipped over another one: $1,555.00. Apparently, four figures is the going rate for bags these days. Where have I been? I made a mental note of the brand because I had seen one of the moms at my son's school carrying one just like it.

When I saw her in the parking lot a few days later, I couldn't help but blurt out, in that way that normal people do when drunk (and I wasn't), "Lydia, DID THAT BAG COST YOU $1,700 dollars????" My mom-friend looked a little sheepish. "Well, yes ... but I use it every day."

"Well, I brush my teeth every day, but I don't have a platinum toothbrush," I thought but didn't say.

Maybe the problem is mine. If you believe in the economic theory of supply and demand, and I do, clearly many women are buying these bags or they wouldn't exist. Maybe I don't value myself enough to purchase a calf's leather, hand-stitched, small suitcase-sized, car key and cell phone carrier.

Or maybe, when God was handing out the gene for coveting sophisticated handbags, I was in the other room eating mountains of grilled vegetable sandwiches and chocolate petit fours, much like I found myself doing at that luncheon.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Michael June 6, 2009, 6:40 PM

Hysterical, great article. Yeah that was never my thing. I dont get it. I’d rather spend that money on clothes and good shoes!

Monica June 6, 2009, 7:57 PM

Yeah, a mortgage payment for a purse is ridiculous. Although I must admit that I do pay a utility bill or so for my Coach. I bought one a year and a half ago for almost $400 (with the matching wallet on sale) and like the mom in your article said, I use it everyday since I bought it. But that is the only purse I wear unless I am dressing up. And occasionally I will bring out some of my old Coaches that have been used to death like the current one. Hopefully this winter after two years of service I can retire it and buy a new one.

Liza  June 8, 2009, 1:50 PM

It may be ridiculous to some people but to others it isn’t. It depends on where you stand financially. If my husband and I were struggling there would be no way I would pay 100$ And if we’re not and it doesn’t dent our pocketbook it doesn’t seem out of reason to spend 1k on a bag. Spend within your means.

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