I actually gave up on ranting about contemporary fashion a long time ago.
I'm of an age where I no longer give two shits, or even one shit about whether or not what I'm wearing is trendy or fashionable. The only exception to this would be when I am forced to interact with other humans in a professional capacity. I'll put on a pair of Dockers or a skirt, a button down shirt or shell and a cardi and call it a day. Most of the time I wear what's comfortable, while taking some care not to go out in public in yoga pants and a t-shirt, or anything that will land me a guest spot on some horrible website full of photos of women wearing pants 2 sizes too small, showing the world their ass crack or muffin top.
I might not care if I'm unfashionable, but I don't want to scare people either.
Anyway, tonight I decided I would go out in search of a new pair of boots. The criteria was simple - must not cost more than $50, must have a heel that I can actually walk in, must not be made of plastic, and not be too fussy and/or look like cheap motorcycle boots or someone's mad interpretation of cowboy boots. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind motorcycle boots or cowboy boots, it's that neither of these were what I was looking for this evening.
I went to one of my favorite shoe-selling retail establishments. All the fall boots were out, so many styles to choose from, some of them so hideous I wondered who actually would consider spending more than $25 (let alone $100) on a pair of "all man made materials" calf high boots with a horrible 3" wedge heel (who the hell decided that wedge heels needed to come back anyway? they only ever looked good on espadrilles back in in 1977). There were some fairly awful ankle boots as well that should have come with a warning label:
"Wearing these boots will give you foot problems. We are not responsible for paying your podiatrist co-pays."
The store was also chock full of shoes that I would never, could never wear. Even when I was a skinny 20 something I've never been able to walk on anything higher than 2" heels, and they damned well better be a chunky heel. How anyone but a professional dancer or someone with arches of doom can walk in a 3" pointed heel is beyond me. I have met a few women who can do it, but for the most part I just cringe when I see women wearing them with that pained look on their face.
"Beauty is a pair of shoes that makes you want to die..." FZ
To make a long story short, I did manage to find a nice pair of ankle high boots in a style that agreed with me, at a price I was willing to pay (but not without trying on a half dozen other pairs that just didn't work for one reason or another). Not before having a laugh at all the other hideously ugly shoes and boots for sale that will surely end up on a garbage barge floating somewhere off the coast of New Jersey.
What this post is really about is what I went looking for after I found my boots.
Handbags. Purses. The thing we sling over our shoulders that holds the "stuff" we need when we leave the house.
A woman's "purse" is the stuff of legend. Most everyone has some memory of their mother's or grandmother's giant handbag that always seemed to hold whatever you needed at that particular moment whether it was a tissue, a cigarette lighter, a pen, a piece of hard candy of unknown origin or variety, or a blowtorch (okay, maybe not a blowtorch). The point is, that bag was cavernous and full of mysterious objects. I don't remember any of these bags of legend having any fancy designer labels, and they were generally uncomplicated utilitarian objects designed to hold "stuff", but they were never so large as to make you wonder what else one could carry in that bag.
So I decided that I should get myself a more grownup-looking purse since I actually have an occasion coming up where I'll need to look like a responsible adult, and my natty hippie crocheted "summer" handbag just isn't going to cut it. My criteria for purchasing a new handbag is less stringent than purchasing shoes or boots, but the purchase still has to make sense and not cost more than I'm willing to spend on a pair of jeans. I'm cheap, but more specifically I've never understood why anyone who isn't pulling down a six-figure salary should spend more than $50 on a goddamned purse. We're not talking about a laptop case, courier bag, or backpack - I'm talking about a purse.
A purse to carry the crap that you need to run to the store, shuttle the kids around, or go out for the evening with friends or your significant other. This container should be big enough to fit your cell phone / smart phone, your wallet, a pen, lip balm or lipstick, maybe a tampon or two, a pack of gum and/or your cigarettes and a lighter. Maybe if you're neurotic about your hair, you might carry a small comb or hairbrush, but you don't need a bag big enough to fit these items plus a pair of jeggings, a 1 lb. bag of m&ms, a flask of cake flavored vodka, spare pair of flats, and still have room for a severed head.
Seriously people. Who the hell needs a purse that big?! It cracks me up when I see petite women carrying these giant ass bags with big stupid designer bling all over them. Unless you're a stripper or the octo-mom, there is no need to carry a bag that big. You can't possibly need to carry that much shit with you when you leave the house and if you do need to carry a giant purse because your life is not complete with out one then I think you need to downsize your life just a bit.
Whew. Yeah, I did have a point in here somewhere...
So I'm in the shoe store looking at purses. I'm rummaging around in the "clearance" section looking for a deal. The only bag that seemed even remotely close to something I would not be embarrassed to carry was "marked down" from $199. WTF? Even with the markdown, it was still almost $80. Mind you, it was made of real cow instead of plastic, but I still could not bring myself to spend that much money on something that I see as nothing more than an alternative to carrying around all my belongings in a recycled plastic shopping bag. Most of the bags in the clearance bin were more terrifying than the stripper shoes I was laughing at elsewhere in the store.
(um.. that's why they're in the clearance bin, dumbass)
OMG that is the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life.
$175 for that?
No way, that would just keep falling off my shoulder and piss me off.
The new purse will have to wait another day, or week until I muster up enough enthusiasm to look in a different store. I blame my insanely frugal Polish mother for this (just to clarify, she is insane, frugal, and of Polish heritage). Mom never believed in designer labels, or looking fashionable after say 1978 when she just gave up and bought all her clothes and accessories at Sears,Wards or Penney's off the clearance rack. The thought of spending "good money" on something just because it has a designer label on it was a foreign concept in our household.
Ultimately I'd say this is a good thing because I don't have a house full of useless designer crap that goes out of style after 1 season, shoes that look great on a supermodel but are impossible to walk in, or a handbag that doubles as an overnight bag.
No offense to my shoe-loving friends. Believe me, I can still appreciate a crazy pair of Vivienne Westwood shoes - in fact she is probably one of the only "designers" that I would actually pony up the cash for shoes or a handbag because they're so fucking cool. That is only if I somehow happened to strike it rich one day. I'd also consider paying for a deep discounted Vera Bradley bag because I love the bright floral patterns and her bags are made of fabric.
However, I still believe that shopping for purses and/or shoes is still something that most practical women should undertake with a great sense of humor, and a whole lot of patience.