What’s in the bag—a look back at a cultural phenomenon
I am not ashamed to admit that I love Jersey Shore. The cast is delightful, the catchphrases give me life, and the drama is good. But my favorite part of the show is the fashion. It’s a study in a very specific way of thinking about fashion. While you or I may think that two leopard print items is too many for one outfit, Snooki begs to differ, and while many of you won’t agree with me, I kind of see her point.
The purses on Jersey Shore were always a sight to behold, even if that sight was often quite bad. It was a joy to watch the kids evolve from carrying trash bags to carrying Coach and Gucci to designing their own handbag lines, and evolving as people at the same time—sort of. Join me as I look back on the purse moments the cast of Jersey Shore gave us: they made me laugh, cry, and ponder the nature of existence.
Angelina and her trash bags
The "Kim Kardashian of Staten Island" caught a lot of heat for bringing her belongings to the Jersey Shore house in literal trash bags in the first episode of Jersey Shore. Yeah, it was pretty funny, but also, I really get it and I probably would have done the same. Many people in their early 20s don’t own luggage, and trash bags are easy to carry clothes around in—not that I know from personal experience. Ahem.
Snooki and the Gucci purse
Snooki’s always loved her purses. In the early days of Jersey Shore, she could be seen carrying around a Coach Brown Heritage Striped Satchel, which she reportedly purchased for $139 at the mall and wore everywhere. I do not care for the bag, but there’s something so pure about the image of Snooki at the mall waiting in a “5 mile long line,” as she described it, to purchase a Coach bag.
But by August of 2010, Snooki suddenly had a new bag. A Gucci Sukey Tote now went with her everywhere, including the time she got arrested on the beach for being too drunk. The bag was prominent in that scene, and while I found it poetic, Gucci's marketing department was probably doing a collective facepalm.
So how'd she get the bag? The legend is that Gucci’s competitors had been sending Snooki Gucci bags in a cruel “unbranding” campaign. The fashion industry was unkind, but Snooki won in the end. The Sukey looked amazing as she staggered around on the beach, demonstrating the bag’s utility in a beach blackout situation.
Sammi and the purses she wore during fights with Ron
Sammi preferred a small clutch while fighting with Ron in the club, but she had some larger bags that she wore for fighting with Ron during the day. Sammi's giant Coach bag is featured prominently during the gang’s season 4 trip to Italy: it accompanies her to a cocktail bar where she gets into a fight with Ronnie, and she is later photographed walking hand in hand around Florence with Ronnie and the bag, maybe fighting, maybe not. That bag has been through a lot, and that speaks to the durability of Coach bags.
The purse of Sammi’s that I remember best though, and the purse that I think best encompasses the Jersey Shore style, was her black Christian Audigier Heavy Metal Peaches tote. Audigier was the man who popularized Ed Hardy, another staple of the Jersey Shore look. This purse was part of the everyman appeal of the Jersey Shore kids—they’re just like us! The bag has a lot of studs, maybe even too many studs, and perhaps served at the inspiration behind Valentino’s trademark Rockstuds and the prominence of studs on recent Prada nylon collections. The again, maybe not.
The Michael Kors Hamilton
Full disclosure—my first designer purse was a Hamilton Satchel by Michael Kors. I was fresh out of college and from Edmonton, which meant this was probably inevitable. One day I wandered into a Michael Kors store in the mall, emerging ten minutes later with a giant purple beauty, as one does.
I carried my Hamilton proudly for two years, all the while unaware that JWoww and Snooki were walking around this very world carrying the same bag as me. Well, not exactly the same of course—JWoww’s Hamilton is bright pink and covered in studs, and it is wonderful. If JWoww was trying to win her feud with Sammi by having the most studs on her purse, then she succeeded, but in a larger way, we all win by getting to gaze upon this bonkers purse.
I carried my old Hamilton to work today to see if some of that Snooki and JWoww energy would transfer to me, but I didn’t get into a single fistfight. All I got was blistering feedback: one of my colleagues told me my bag looked like something you buy if you can't buy something nicer. Ouch! But in my case, true. The blow was softened when I looked down and saw that my colleague was also wearing a Michael Kors purse: she was speaking from experience.
Snooki and JWoww still proudly wear Michael Kors, and the world is better for it. They have money to buy something nicer, but nicer isn't always better, and that's one of the best fashion lessons I've learned from the Jersey Shore.
Snooki and her Louis Vuitton Amazone Bag
You may have heard that last year on Family Vacation, a deeply spiraling Snooki attempted to steal money off the floor of a strip club, but what you may not have heard was that she then tried to stuff the money into her Louis Vuitton purse.
If you look closely, it’s a Louis Vuitton Amazone Bag this small woman is using to carry money she stole from strippers. This seems more like a Christian Audigier or trash bag moment to be honest, but Snooki has never been one to let a beautiful purse stand in the way of a good time.
Please share your favorite Jersey Shore purse moments below, and wear these bags to bring some of that Jersey Shore magic to your life.
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