I have a large stable of straight, male friends as a result of my three collegiate years spent working evenings and weekends at Best Buy, and even though they’re always very polite and make sure to ask me how my job is going, it’s rare that they have specific inquiries for me about handbags. Which, I suppose, is as expected.

That’s why it caught me off guard when one of those guys asked me about a type of bag that he had seen over and over again while we were at dinner not long ago. His description was vague, but we eventually figured out that he was talking about bags like the Dooney & Bourke Kristen Animal Tote and its many doppelgangers.

These bags always seemed vaguely ridiculous to me, and as a result, I kind of ignored them. It was smug of me to do so, however – they may not be the height of fashion, but the style has been so popular and spawned so many lookalike bags that my job sort of requires that I pay attention to it.

My friend also asked me why the bags, which are objectively not all that attractive, had become so popular among such a wide swath of suburban America. I told him I didn’t know at the time, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like it’s probably for the same reason that so many people love our other patterned friend of Middle America, Vera Bradley.

It appears that a certain segment of the population feels as though they can opt out of coordinating their bag with their outfit by choosing something that’s not a solid shade, and that no matter what colors it might be, it will function as a neutral simply by virtue of being patterned. I’m not a personal subscriber of this particular theory, but I can see why a lot of women are – fashion can be a daunting subject to tackle, and finding a way to opt out while still paying lip service to what is popular among your peers is certainly an attractive alternative. I merely wish that they’d move on from giraffe print. Buy through Zappos for $225.

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