After three years of living in perfect acceptable (and perfectly cheap) apartment in Los Angeles, there came a moment when just walking through the front door made my skin crawl. Nothing was good enough anymore. The kitchen needed to be updated. There was linoleum in the bathroom. The vertical blinds I had refused to use since moving in (much to the delight of the male neighbors across the courtyard) grated on my aesthetic nerves more than usual. I, in my own elevated notion of myself, had become too good for the space. All of a sudden, I deserved more, better. A charmless ingratitude crept in, and it didn’t go away until I moved into a better – and more expensive — place.
Recently, I’ve been getting that bratty sensation all over again. Only this time, it’s about a purse.
My purse and I have known each other for approximately four very long years, a veritable lifetime in purse years. It has traveled with me to Paris, Berlin, South Africa, the Maldives. It has kept my lap warm on overnight flights between New York and Los Angeles. My purse is a fine purse, and functional in all regards. It can fit my iPad, iPhone, 1.5 liter bottle of water, day planner, discarded gum wrappers, and mauled receipts. Never before have I had such a faithful, journey-worthy companion. And it is for this reason that I have come to deeply resent said purse, like the boyfriend who you should want to marry but you just can’t envision sleeping with anymore.
Currently I find myself in a sort of price-point purgatory. The bags I want – beautiful, useless accessories of buttery leather and fashionable hardware — fall between $2k and $3k, which is truly a ludicrous sum, especially considering they cannot fit my litany of junk and they certainly cannot house my massive bottles of water. And, when buying a purse that costs approximately 16% of the average household income, there are other problems to contend with: When you buy a rich lady bag, you better be living a rich lady life. There’s no getting stuck in the rain, no leaving your bag unattended at a club, no “I can take this to Coachella and to dinner at Per Se!” and there’s definitely no more taking the subways — $3k purses do not take subways. When you buy a designer bag, you’re not just investing in a purse; you’re investing in a lifestyle. And honey, it’s an expensive one.
Technically, these bags are not for me. But want, as we all know, is not a rational desire. I will continue to covet Celine, pine for Proenza. I will look at my worn out, ratty old bag with increasing contempt, hiding it in my jacket when I’m taken anywhere fancy. And one day perhaps I’ll succumb to my silly need for “better.” And on that day, I’ll just have to move out of my apartment, and into my handbag. —Jenny Bahn
If you’re inclined to keep your apartment, click through for some great buys that won’t cost you 3k. Or anything close to it.