Every time I see a post about the new YSL ICare tote, I can’t help but think about how much I would’ve considered this bag to be the height of luxury during my adolescence.
As a younger Millennial, my interest in fashion started sometime in the early 2000s ﹘ a time when pop culture was dominated by photos of celebs leisurely going about their days, always accompanied by some huge cushy bag as extra protection against the paparazzi.
As it happens, celebs’ choice of handbags eventually trickled down to the masses and kicked off the Big Bag trend we all knew and loved. However, I distinctly remember how those large slouchy totes I saw on the shoulders of the rich n’ famous (and older, richer kids) came to really represent a new concept in my developing mind: the concept of leisure, and most importantly, how it related to wealth, comfort, and luxury.
The Cambridge English dictionary defines luxury as ‘great comfort, especially provided by expensive and beautiful things.’
To pre-teen me, all of the big bag-wearers somehow appeared more comfortable ﹘ more leisurely﹘ than those who didn’t. They just cruised through their days with a relaxed, carefree attitude, chunking stuff into their purses without any regard for whatever else was inside.
Heck, they didn’t even seem to be overly concerned with looking too put together in public. That was the beauty of it all! Low rise jeans, a pair of Ugg boots, and a big bag was all you needed to look well-to-do!
Bags like the Marc Jacobs Stam and Juicy Couture Velvet totes just screamed “whatever,” in a way that made you seem too cool to care, much like our favorite beater bags do now. But since these were my formative years, things that evoked those particular feelings of ease, contentment, and unbotheredness became what I’d personally define as true luxury.
(Sure, Juicy was much more flashy than Marc Jacobs, but the brand made it cool to wear loungewear outside the house. Nothing says relaxation more than carrying a bag that looks like a throw pillow. It was called the Daydreamer, after all…)
Yeah, it’s Expensive, but Whatever…
My style and budget have undergone pretty drastic changes over the past two decades, but my definition of luxury hasn’t.
Sure, my satisfaction now comes from bigger brands, smoother lines, and fancier materials, but I still look for bags that communicate nonchalance, ones that say I don’t need to try too hard to live a good life. Ones that I wear, not ones that wear me.
Who knows, maybe I’m still chasing the fantasy of being one of those Coach-wearing girls who got shuttled between extracurriculars and their favorite froyo shop three times a week. Maybe I still want an expensive overnight bag to toss around at sleepovers (even though I’m almost 28.)
While Ed Hardy is now hardly out of my reach, I still find myself choosing bags based on how much they reflect my childhood interpretation of luxury, ones I can see myself taking along to go and do things that reduce my stress.
Yaknow, one for vacations, one for fancy dinners, and one for trips to the farmers market and Pilates. Ones that, when I catch others eyeballing, I can politely dismiss the attention with a simple unspoken “whatever.”