Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Status Symbol Land

Every morning I step off the train and head straight to Dunkin Donuts for my extra large coffee to sip at the office as I read my emails and go through paperwork.

This morning I was completely mesmerized by a woman on line ordering coffee ahead of me. She was covered from head to toe in designer attire right down to her Chanel hand bag and matching wallet, Gucci sun glasses (there was no sun today--it was snowing), and the Louis Vuitton scarf spattered with huge trademark VL emblems wrapped around her neck. I couldn't stop staring, not because I was impressed, but because I just couldn't help but wonder who on earth this woman was and if she had any clue herself. I just couldnt stop thinking all day about why this woman felt the need to drape herself completely in designer garb and accessories, and quite frankly, it made me a little sad.

Now I must confess, I have a few designer items that I paid small fortunes for back in the day when I earned a better living in the mortgage industry and didn't have to choose between paying my rent and bills that month or purchasing the latest trend. One year, for my birthday, I treated myself to a Cartier tank watch because I have wanted one since I was a teenager. I wore this simple, classic, timeless $ 6,000 watch with the unique and sturdy clasp only once or twice because I am terrified of losing it. Every once in awhile I open my jewelry box and take it out just to look at it. If times get really tough, at least I can sell it. I also had a gorgeous Vuitton wallet that cost me the equivalent of two week's worth of groceries. I had to have it but sadly my beloved wallet was stolen right from my purse (not designer) one night at a bar. I was not so upset about losing the wallet and all of its contents but rather insulted that anyone would steal from me because if they had simply asked I would have given them cash, the wallet, or anything else if they really, really wanted it.

When I graduated high school back in 1980 (GULP!!) I remember designer items becoming popular and more accessible to the "common folk". It all started with Aigner handbags which in those days cost a whopping $70!! When you are accustomed to paying no more than $5.99 for an item that is simply used to carry a velcro wallet, car keys and a lipstick, that much money for a purse was considered absolutely outrageous and down right sinful. Most girls I knew were willing to sacrifice opening several lovely gifts under the tree that year for Christmas in exchange for that one coveted handbag reluctantly purchased by their parents. No matter how I begged and pleaded and promised "never again to ask for another thing", my parents refused to buy one for me. I was bound and determined to get that handbag so I worked and scrimped and saved until I could afford one myself, carried it proudly for a few months, and to this day have absolutely no idea what happened to it.

I can't help but wonder about our fascination with designer products and why we have the need to advertise who we are or are not with these items. And this leads me back to the woman in Dunkin Donuts who quite honestly looked as if she had just been at a designer's frat party and they had gotten sick all over her! One or two pieces, I can understand, but a half dozen or more? What she was attempting to communicate to the world did not fool me. I saw a very insecure woman who felt the need to wear other people's names all over her body because she was not comfortable with her own. Her whole appearance announced, "Look at me! I am wearing all this stuff because I am somebody!" Quite honestly, those who truly ARE somebody, know they are and do not need to advertise it or flaunt it in any way, shape, or form. You look at them and you just know simply by their humility, their generosity, and most importantly by the way they treat others. May I never forget that I am who I am because of what is inside of me. I should never feel the need to validate myself or anyone else by a label of any kind; designer or otherwise.

I have my 30 year High School reunion coming up and I think I will take out my Cartier watch and wear it to the event, not to prove I am affluent or give the impression that I am but because it truly is a lovely time piece. I wish I still had that $70 Aigner handbag because it would really go well with the outfit I plan to wear that night. And to the person who stole my Louis Vuitton wallet, I pray you are enjoying it and that it is always filled with money because obviously you need it more.

And this is my Daily Cyn.......

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