Who'd have thought that a handbag could be should a contentious issue? But it is. Its one of the great debates of our time - the Sunday Times even had a two page feature on it a few months ago in the Culture section rather than the Style magazine and there was a round on University Challenge devoted to identifying designer bags.
I have just bought a new bag. Not a Mulberry, a Chloe or a Marc Jacobs, but a humble Topshop bag. Its made of real leather, I like the colour, it has room for all of my things and it cost me £50. I'm rather pleased with it but I know that to many people, it is a huge social faux pas these days to not have a designer bag.
But I can't afford to pay £500+ for a bag. And nor do I envisage a situation in this lifetime where I will be able to. (I do have more than £500 but that is reserved for furniture, washing machine and other boring things and if it was going spare, I'd probably rather spend it on some art).
Now from many people I've heard the argument that a designer handbag is a good investment and that buying cheap bags is a false economy, but for me it still doesn't add up. I'm not so fickle that I'm buying a new bag every other week according to the latest trend but nor can I see a bag lasting me a lifetime. I reckon I normally stick with the same everyday bag for about 2 years so at £50 that is £25 per year. This means that I would need to use the £500 designer bag for over 20 years for it to be better value.
Then there is the quality issue. I dislike plasticky market stall bags as much as the next woman, but really how much better quality can a £500 bag be than a £50 bag? I'm still clumsy and forgetful, prone to losing things, getting caught in the rain or spilling coffee over things and unless I've missed something, these bags don't come with supernatural powers that will protect them from these inevitabilities.
I'm not criticising anyone who can afford to spend that much on a bag (as it seems nearly everyone other than me can), but what I do object to as that I feel like a second class citizen because I can't (or won't). I've bought something I really like (and needed), but its made me feel a little sad in the same way as when Charlie Brown buys that pathetic little Christmas tree that everybody else scorns.
(If you haven't seen it, I thoroughly recommend 'Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown' - it makes me weep everytime I see it)