Bags With Bling

“Sex appeal is 50 per cent what you’ve got and
50 per cent what people think you’ve got.”

-Sophia Loren

I don’t know the time or context in which Sophia said this but I re-discovered it in a book of quotes, “The Last Word-A Treasury of Women’s Quotes” by Carolyn Warner, published in 1992.
It’s safe to say, fourteen years later, that not a great deal of what ‘you’ve got’ is being left to the imagination. In a world gone mad, it’s more “if you’ve got it, flaunt it.”

For those women unwilling or unable to compete with the sexy, nubile, twig-skinny, nearly-naked, rich young girls, the only recourse is letting your accessories speak for you.

Personally I consider shoes to be utilitarian. With plantar fasciitis the need for comfort is non-negotiable. In fact if I had a nickel for everyone I know with some sort of foot problem, I’d be a rich woman. So, for me at least, shoes are not the thing that defines my look.

However, handbags are. Never before has selection been greater. The sheer number of designers pumping out at least two collections a year ensures product galore (and a very short shelf life for all but the most classic designs). The internet has served to make our world so much smaller. The world’s inventory is literally available in the comfort of our own homes.

Knock-offs play into Sophia’s “what people think you’ve got.” For those women inclined to create an impression, albeit false, knock-offs may be the answer—how to have the designer look when clearly you can’t afford it.

Most other women are content (or is that resigned?) to making their fashion dollar go as far as it can without resorting to copycat products. That may mean, in practical terms, just buying one really good leather bag each year plus a fun, funky, faux fad knowing full well it’s almost a throw-away.

Current handbag styles seem to fall into two loose groups. The trendiest ones are loaded with buckles, tassels, rings, straps, appliqués and jewels. In a word: bling. They tend to be over-sized, slouchy, unstructured. Group two are those classic styles, colors, construction and finishes that endure year in and year out. A toned down, more subtle bling. The sort of designs that become the mainstay of some of the world’s most successful and enduring design houses.

Both groups are available in price points exclusively for the ultra-rich, Hollywood starlet or more reasonably priced for you and me.

But back to Sophia…is it sexy to flaunt the illusion of wealth even if you can’t afford it? Or is it sexier to flaunt your authenticity—pulling together your very best look —with the greatest accessories you can afford.

Hazel Anaka is hooked on handbags and leather purses as evidenced by her online business http://www.powerofpurses.com. Her weekly column “From Where I Sit” appears online at http://www.voicemagazine.org and in print. Using 16 years of retail experience she’s just opened Heart Works Studio Gallery & Gift Shop near Andrew, AB Canada. Featuring her original art and eclectic gift ware, Heart Works also offers workshops in art, writing and personal development.

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