March 22, 2007

Why Women Love Handbags

Like most guys, I've always been confused by one of the great mysteries of the world: what's with women and their handbags? Part fashion accessory, part functional, most bags seem to accomplish neither. They're either way too big (read: suitcase) or way too small. And how is a $2000 bag with the Louis Vuitton symbol plastered all over it considered stylish instead of ostentatious free advertising?

In her book review of It's In the Bag in the Atlantic Monthly, fashion write Lynn Yaeger lends some insight into the mysterious female mind (to be fair, this applies to guys and their man-purses):
As a fashion writer (and, let’s face it, compulsive shopper), I’ve spent the last couple of decades looking at extravagantly priced handbags, trying to uncover their secrets: Why are women dragging veritable suitcases to work when their male counterparts make do with a billfold and a BlackBerry? Why does a frivolous bag like the coquettish Fendi Baguette, shaped as the name would indicate, cause a sensation while the Chanel 2005 (introduced in 1998), which looked like a high-tech pillow and prided itself on its ergonomic correctness, lay a tremendous egg? The answers, it turns out, lie far beyond considerations of practicality or even objective aesthetic appeal. (Sometimes a jolie laide bag will take off while a lovely purse languishes.) This much can be said with certainty: Handbags have nosed their way into a place once occupied almost exclusively by diamonds and fancy furs, functioning as badges of honor, announcements that you’ve arrived at a particular economic or social level, or at the very least, emblems of hopefulness, yearning, and optimism—I have the same bag as a movie star! I am someone to be reckoned with!—that can be brandished for all the world to see.
And, so therein lies the rub - it's about status. A nice purse equals high status. I suppose the guy equivalent would be cars, watches and the big-screen TV. But, with the guy items, I get why the 52 incher is better than the 40 incher or why the Porsche with the super horsepower beats out the cherry red Chevy Cavalier. But, what makes the $920 Gucci bag better than an $8 Target bag? And who can really tell if the knock-off Chinatown Prada bag isn't the real thing? Anyways, pardon me while I go check out the hot new 3 series from BMW......



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