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.

Saint Laurent ICare Shopping Bag on Marble Table

Luxury, Defined.

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…)

The Marc Jacobs Stam

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.”

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Sara
Sara
1 month ago

When I was a teen, the LV speedy was carried by everyone who wished to look like they had money. I wanted one desperately then but now I think the LV monogram seems common and ugly. The Fendi spy bag was a really big deal back then too.

J B
J B
1 month ago
Reply to  Sara

Sorry you feel the way ya do about the Speedy and LV mono in general. In high school the speedy 30 was on the arm of the “rich” girls only and I wanted one badly. Now I have 2 and love and appreciate them. So well made..something about the material, roominess and how they feel when you reach in. LV mono is a timeless classic and my head always turns when I see it.

lalarey
lalarey
1 month ago
Reply to  Sara

agree about the spy. I have warned my husband if they rerelease that baby I am marching straight to Bergdorf’s and WILL return with a medium one, regardless of the time of year, how recently I bought another bag or did something else expensive, or if one of us loses our job. It is the one that got away.

I acquired my speedy BACK in the day and now feel a little self conscious about how oversaturated it became, but you’ll always see it dangling from my arm in a blizzard or any major rainstorm when I have to carry more than fits in my coat pocket and probably think “oh yeah, it is objectively a very very practical bag”

Gayle
Gayle
1 month ago
Reply to  Sara

Yes the LV speedy in multicolor. I wanted it so much in 2007 but it was $2000. Couldnt afford it when i was a teenager. 10yrs later finally bought it in ebay for just $550. Excellent condition. Was for bidding and few people bid on it.

Jennifer
Jennifer
1 month ago
Reply to  Gayle

This was me with Balenciaga- desperately wanted one and couldn’t afford, finally have a couple thanks to resale!

Lisa
Lisa
1 month ago

I feel that now that I am older and more settled, I could care less what anyone thinks of the bags that I am carrying. Once addicted to Hermes, Chanel and LV, I have sold most of my 100+ collection and have become a much more practical woman. I appreciate the classics for sure, but have also gone back to Coach, Marc Jacobs, and Tory Burch. I also carry Staud and few other contemporary brands and LOVE them. Wish I had been smarter with my money…but oh the pressure of being in your 20s and 30s and owning the most coveted of everything…LOL!!

FashionableLena
FashionableLena
1 month ago

Where I grew up, Coach and Dooney were the height of looking like you had money. My mother would rather carry a Liz Claiborne bag and spend $200 on jewelry.

J B
J B
1 month ago

Coach and Dooney was about right for those of us just entering the job market in the mid 90s…nothing was better than my 2x per year $300ish Coach purchase and my Via Spiga shoes lol!

Tiffany
Tiffany
1 month ago
Reply to  J B

Same here! Liz Claiborne was big at my high school, and Coach and Dooney in college. Wasn’t until I started working in a major metro that I really started noticing luxury bags at a higher level.

ChippyGal
ChippyGal
1 month ago

When I was in my twenties bags weren’t that big of a deal, it was clothes more. This was the 90’s – early 90’s and Versace clothes were the height of all that was hot. I was into raves as a teen and early twenties so designer club wear yes, bags no. We didn’t carry them – maybe a bum bag if really needed. I wore vivienne westwood, had a Gualtier bustier like Madonna and some cool club wear designers like Destroy and Nick Coleman but no bags – the first bag I remember as an “It” bag was the Chloe paddington and then the Balenciaga bags.

bir
bir
1 month ago

Balenciaga motocross first still love it still own three, but i did not get to wear it that very very first day.

Tanya
Tanya
1 month ago

I have all these bags in my closet right now (Marc Jacobs, Coach, and LV). I’m about bring out my original hillier bag. Loving the re-edition collection from Marc Jacobs right now! 👍😘

Shari
Shari
1 month ago

When I was young, in the 70’s, Gucci was it. For my sweet sixteen friends of my parents bought me my first Gucci. I was beyond excited! It was the blue GG print which Gucci has now brought back to life. Out of nostalgia, I had to buy one.

Marcela
Marcela
1 month ago

The millennial “it bag” has to be the Balenciaga motorcycle bag… I remember back in the day in this very forum discussing all the different colors of the new seasons! Of course, pioneered and made famous by millennial child star queens, the Olsens in NYU. That green mint bag they carried… a classic! I still have all of mine and love the city and the work models…

Earlier as in 15/16 it was LV and Gucci, of course. I remember the LV graffiti baguettes being so popular (I had the one in green and forgot the bag in a McDonalds… literally). I hated the white colored ones though… had some sense of fashion back then lol. I loved my LV camera bag and backpack. And the basic Guccis… I never liked the Marc Jacobs even though everyone had it! Prada wallets in cool colors were my obsession too. Then moved on to a bit of Prada and finally, Chanel of course. 2008 and I got my first Chanel bag, a 2.55 black one. It’s still my favorite Chanel bag to this day. Then moved to Celine and my ultimate “beach to day to day bag” is the Goyard St Louis, I have it in every color. Nowadays, in my early 30’s, it’s of course Hermes and Chanel. Those are the two eternal brands… I do still love my Balenciagas though. Outgrew most of LV and Gucci. Oh and Valentino and Fendi recent too but those were more fad buys… so yeah I’m probably forgetting but I’m the “Clueless” late 90’s/early 2000’s I’d say LV basic bags + Gucci – we wanted the monogram as kids lol. The ultimate “it bag” of my generation was the Balenciaga city though… but that was college years, circa 2005-2010 I think? I just remember coming to the purseblog forum every start of season to debate the new amazing rainbow of colors of the Balenciaga motorcycle bag. Good times.

Now all I truly need is my black Hermes Kelly, a black classic Chanel for evenings (I also love the mini boy and mini classic – wish I could have in every color) and I love my old black Chanel Coco Cocoon as a diaper/everyday bag. Oh and the St Louis for vacations/beach time.

Ahh forgot Bottega. Love the clutches for weddings and the classic crossbody ones. Forgot a good crossbody – either the Celine trio/nano, a classic Bottega and I like a throwback to vintage LV or Gucci crossbody.

I keep my Balenciaga bags but don’t use them as often – need to remember to stop wearing just black bags!!!

Wendi
Wendi
1 month ago

When I was in junior high and entering high school, there was a Dooney and Burke saddlebag that came in a million different colors that everyone had to have. Like everyone, and their moms. If you didn’t have the authentic bag, you definitely had one that your mom bought out of someone’s trunk in the Walmart parking lot. My mother, who was so anti-fashion and name brands and such, even succumbed to the trend, which always spoke volumes to me about how luxury could be defined. I had the knockoff, but this article has inspired me to head over to eBay to see if someone still has the real deal. 😉

Sandra Hohn
Sandra Hohn
1 month ago

I wanted a Chanel flap handbag like my Mother’s but I was so lucky it was the late 1970’s, I received an LV Speedy. I still have a Speedy in my handbag collection.

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