Wednesday, February 28, 2007

How Much To Pay For a Bag?

I received an inquiry last night from a fellow blogger and reader (not a minister)* who wanted to know, "How much is too much to pay for a bag?"

What a wonderful question to get on the day the stock market crashed! PeaceBang has spent the last 24 hours wtih a dimply smile on her face, the kind of smile that says, "I'm trying really hard not to look at my pension account balance on the Fidelity website right now! Because although I have deep and profound fears of becoming a bag lady upon retirement, I am staying in the moment! And thanking God for the miracle of compounding interest!"

So let's not think about the stock market... let's think about bags. Deep, cleansing breaths.

Now, PeaceBang loves bags. Bags are easy to love. They don't pinch your feet, they never get tight if you gain a few pounds, they're always ready to go when you are, and if you get them really roomy like I do, you can fit your day planner, cosmetics case, a few books, a cell phone, gloves, hat, a water bottle, and the Louisiana Purchase in there and go about your day feeling so prepared.

PeaceBang buys most of her bags at TJ Maxx, Filene's Basement or Macy's, all of which have an excellent selection. Lately, I am thinking that Target has a fine selection, although many of their offerings are rather wrinkly and cotton-based, which is not very polished and professional.

The most I think I have ever spent on a bag is $75, and most often I spend closer to $20 (I'm telling you, TJ Maxx is your man here). But that's just me. I rotate my bags so frequently none of them get much wear-and-tear, and for those who can't be bothered switching bags, your one classic favorite will get quite a work-out.

All of which is my way of saying that
this Kate Spade bag, the current lust-item of this reader, seems to me to be a pretty practical lust-item. After all, it's not a poodle-shaped, diamante-encrusted clutch. It is a classic handbag. It is extremely handsome. Kate Spade is adored by millions of women not only for her elegant designs but I assume because she makes a durable, well-made product.

You have to know your outer limits. PeaceBang's big ticket items are literally big tickets: I dearly love to travel and am willing to spend $400 on a plane ticket to a faraway land, but not on a bag. I lose sunglasses all the time, so I never spend more than $15 on them. A friend of mine loses sunglasses all the time but spends $100 on them. She loves the feel of a luxuriously heavy frame on her face. Some of us will splurge on a swanky perfume because we don't feel complete without it, and I heard a seminarian today say that she gets facials a few times a year; something PeaceBang is pretty sure isn't in many seminarians' budgets. Self-care is exactly that. Self. As in yourself, not somebody else. Brava, I say.

Your money is yours by virtue of your hard work, bubelahs. It represents your life-force and your energy. We all have a unique relationship to money. The important thing is that you know what yours is, how you developed it, and how healthy you think it is. Before you spend big bucks on a bag or anything else, you should know how such purchases affect your sense of yourself, your values and your priorities, and factor in your desire there too, 'cause it matters.

If you want to expend $400 of your life force on a Kate Spade bag, PeaceBang affirms your decision and and hopes you will cherish that bag for many years to come. She hopes that it will give you a sense of joy and confidence every time you sling it over your shoulder and go out to rock the world at Georgetown Law School, or wherever life takes you.

* Madgebaby's comment prompts me to say again that the woman who wrote in about the Kate Spade bag is not a minister, and that a Kate Spade bag does strike me as (a) beyond most pastor's budget but (b) too "designer-y" for ministers. Agree? Disagree?
However, it was a great question and I was eager to ruminate on it with you.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm basically learning how to subsistence farm as a hobby, my second set of scriptures is the More than Less Cookbook, I can feed a family of four on 35 dollars a week (thank heavens I don't have to) and we give generously to causes and people we care about--all that said, a REALLY nice purse on occasion is a lovely thing to behold.

Sometimes you can find good stuff on EBAY, but you have to be careful, particularly about the "almost new" category

Funny how few would think twice about a pastor playing a round of golf, but those same folk might look twice if their pastor came in carrying a tasteful, yet expensive purse.

9:38 PM  
Blogger MiriamL said...

I am in total agreement that the right handbag can do wonders for the soul. It holds the things that are important to a person,it helps to keep one stress-free, and it brings a little spark of fashion into one's life.

My own confession--I was in the buying world for years. I worked for TJMaxx buying womens fashion. Now I run a brand-new online start-up based in London that offers Top Brands at great prices. I believe that my company offers a very real service to people who love fashion but need to watch their money. We do not currently ship to the US, but take a look to get an idea of what we offer at Koodos. We do have great handbags.

The reason I found your blog? My spouse is a UU seminarian. He is quite fashion conscious, I am happy to say.

Keep up the great work!

3:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not in love with that particular brand you mentioned, and here's why--I don't think the quality is commensurate with the cost (they are nicely made, but not THAT nicely made) and the handles are too long or too short for me.

As long as a minister handles their money with integrity (ie not living outside their means, modeling appropriate stewardship, being responsible about retirement and provisions for kids, etc.) I personally don't think it is anyone's business what purse she carries. Honestly, I've found that a nice purse or outfit or hairstyle can be evangelistic in a sense in that these things signal that one is not above the relatively petty things of the world.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

I am grateful for a blog that blends the spirit with fashion. This is a gift from the divine.

I want to second that T J Maxx is the place for bargain bags/attaches. I am planning to buy one there and on sale, you can get them for under 40.

Now, I have a question, a fashion question PeaceBang, and as an over 40 blogger, I am not sure if I contact you directly or post it here:

BUT: here goes--blazers--I need a blue one (I think) and I am wondering, what about a double-breasted. This blog has given me hope that fashion and enlightened religion can be integrated, just as well as Anselm integrated faith and learning. But, alas, I am afraid. I wear lots of corduroy and Merrell shoes (or the like). Deep down, though, I still wanna wear blue blazers and loafers. My fear is that this really isn't fashion, but a regression to my evangelical, preppy past. What say ye?

9:12 AM  
Anonymous erica said...

This is exactly how I feel about my Swiss Army watch. It's beyond what I probably should have spent, but I plan to use it forever, it's the only really expensive piece of jewelry I wear, it looks good with everything, and I feel pulled together when I wear it!

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, pb, thank you! I am a poor seminary student (no, literally- at this point all 4 of us- hubby is also in seminary and 2 boys in college...) and for many, many years I have lusted after Caoch bags- but cannot bring myself to spend that much on a flippin purse....but I am glad to know others are also in this dilemma with me- smooches! N

12:46 PM  
Blogger Louise said...

I have found that another source of higher quality, discounted bags is Marshall's. Are they owned by the same company as TJ Maxx?

I have real problems finding pretty shoes because I need orthotics for both feet. Getting those darn things into a pair of shoes with style is a constant struggle for me. But bags, oh, bags! You are so right, PB. They never hurt, they never slip on the ice. So many colors, so many styles!

That being said, my personal dollar limit is about $50, with $20 being much more typical.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Chalicechick said...

OK, the question was from me. I'm a litigation paralegal who has just gotten into law school. I have no kids and my retirement account is none too shabby for someone who isn't even 30 yet.

And I've assigned my husband the job of checking all the counterfeit designer handbag sellers on Dupont Circle and seeing if he can turn up a nice fake.

If not, well, I'll figure it out from there. My style is pretty classic and modest. Liz Claiborne and I go way back. My sunglasses are a couple of hundred bucks, but they are prescription and I've had them for three years.

Usually my style is pretty simple, nice enough to work in law, but still suiting a person who drives a nine year old Corolla.

But something about that purse really appeals to me.


12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous and Chalice Chick,

I love Coach bags. They are well constructed, beautiful and useful. For a long time I looked but never purchased until I realized that there is a trick to purchasing a really nice purse. It seems simple but it's easy to forget...outlet shopping. Both of the Coach bags I own were purchased at 1/3 to 1/4 of the cost at a local outlet. I debated a long time and came to the conclusion that if I use them (rotated by seasons) for a few years I will probably get more value for my dollar than if I keep purchasing bags upon trendy bags at places like Target or TJMaxx. Now, that said I love both of those stores, but sometimes taking my coach "fall and winter bag" out of it's protective covering the beginning of the season just feels great.


4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One other source for really good bags is QVC--you can access them online if you don't get cable.

I bought a really classic Dooney and Bourke bag from them, and waited until it was on 'easy pay'-- the total cost of the bag was split into 4 monthly payments- without interest!

Good bags get noticed, and as a professional woman (but not in ministry) a good bag is well worth the investment.

Coach bags are also guaranteed for life, and I am still using a classic small black shoulder bag nearly 20 years later-- I've sent it in once for minor repairs and reburbishing.

I'll be watching Nightline tonight (stuck in Dallas due to snowstorms in Minnesota)

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

. . .too "designer-y" for ministers . . .

In my experience, the women in the church love my purse collection. No one has had a problem with my having purses in black, brown, olive, red, orange and yellow (all "desinger-y"), nor with the fact that at least some of them are Coach purses (all courtesy of TJMaxx). Instead they seem to feel that the purses fit with my relative youth and love of bright colors and fashion.

11:40 PM  
Blogger PeaceBang said...

Anonymous, I'm so glad to hear it. Being able to enjoy you enjoying life is the sign of a mature and generous-spirited congregation. I think the reason a lot of pastors don't make more effort in their attire (including accessories) is that they don't want to be scrutinized along the lines of "I wonder how much he/she paid for THAT?" Perhaps congregations are becoming more aware that when their pastor looks intentionally put together, it reflects that they're well cared for by a supportive religious community. And that sends a good message.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Dear PB & Co.,

This seminary-grad and Very Assistant Lecturer carries her fifteen-plus-year-old Coach bags on one shoulder and her fourteen-month-old toddler over the other. Coach are practically indestructible, ladies; I still have the first one I ever bought, twenty years ago this fall. Rock on, PB!

2:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much,
I had felt guilty about using the money I meant to give to famine relief on a new bag until I read this.

I feel much more confident sharing Jesus with people now, knowing that they won't judge Jesus by my poor fashion sense.

After all, isn't Christianity about making me feel better?

3:14 AM  
Blogger Louise said...

Anonymous, honey, you're new around here, aren't you? Please either read enough of this blog to understand what it is REALLY about, or please take your sarcasm elsewhere. Thanks.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Chalicechick said...

Even Jesus got his foot oil. You saying you're a better Christian than him, anonymous?

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Louise, yes I'm new, but now that I've read the entire blog, I think I understand what it's REALLY about - image is more important than the message.

at least Louise understands sarcasm. Yes, "even Jesus got his foot oil", but He deserves even more from us, for His ultimate sacrifice. I deserve nothing but death and damnation except for Him, but I certainly don't deserve a new bag.

2:59 AM  

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