Magic Bags

[]( “Louis1”)Juicy pork dumplingsOnce in a blue moon, the sig. other and I will brave the wait for a table at Din Tai Fung Dumpling House. On a normal weekend, a typical wait to get seated will take up to an hour, so we’ll usually go on mornings when we wake up early enough to beat the mad rush. Green beans sauteed with garlicThere’s really no good reason for it–it’s certainly not the cheapest place, but there are a few dishes we enjoy (*cough* fresh, bite-sized juicy pork dumplings made right there *cough* green beans cooked just perfect) and so we’ll savor food at that place, the only United States mainstay of the Taiwanese dumpling chain.

The pictures, while delectable-looking, mislead. Let me say, before I go any further, that this post isn’t about food. It’s about people-watching. And we were right in the middle of the Asian American suburbia equivalent of a Manhattan intersection. The hour’s wait, while allowing us to wax fish frying in the San Gabriel sun, allowed me to rudely observe with huge amounts of dismay the fashions of the area. I correct myself: I mean “fashion,” as in singular.

As if Los Angeles needs another fashion critic. I must be more specific. This small brain of mine was able to gather only one trend because it was absolutely everywhere–thus continuously adding to my appalled state. How could one not notice, except if completely either: 1) unaware or, 2) accepting of this particular cultural norm?

The monogrammed purses and handbags, girls. They were everywhere. It was so prevalent during that point in time, that spotting such letters on totes has been engrained within me permanently, now. Ugh. Every woman coming out of that dumpling house had one. Every one. I would go so far as to say that 90% of the women who walked out of there had a bag with one or two letters repeated and printed all over the outside panels of their handbag. Mothers. Grandmothers. Teenagers. Twenty-somethings, and thirty-somethings.

And now, in order of frequency (with #3 being a distant third):

1) “LV” (Louis Vuitton)

2) “C” (Coach, not Chanel)

3) “F” (Fendi)

Admittedly, handbags are one of those “must-have” items because you can mix and match them with outfits–even more than shoes. And, they probably serve the highest level of utility in a wardrobe. So yes, spending more money on the durability and “fetchingness” of a bag than a top, for example, makes sense.

I found it especially peculiar, however, that these monogrammed bags were mixed with every level of fashion. (How do you say, e*star?) I mean, the purse I carry is a black one, and I will still forbiddingly wear neutrals with it–so I’m not talking about matchy-matchy. I’m talking about half-expecting a girl wearing blue hospital scrubs walk out while carrying a brown-and-tan monogrammed handbag, when that handbag costs over five times what mine cost me (Cole Haan on eBay, duh), and carries one-fifth as much stuff .

Do you remember Guess jeans? I still remember how coveted that triangle on the middle of our right cheeks was. Guess jeans back then were a whopping $65. How’s that for an ‘80s-to early-90’s-priced-monogram? So does this mean that the bar on the monogrammed-necessity has been raised from $65 to over (non-inflation-adjusted) $600? Such a high price to not become the unfashionable nerd at “school” nowadays.

Well. And then came a revelation:

“How many of these bags were fake?”

As if the people were the only ones “Made in China.” Hah. And hey–if you have a fake one, I applaud you for getting a “good deal” on fooling the others. I, for one, can’t tell.

And then I wondered, Is it really worth it to pay full price for a real one anymore? Or does owning a real one effectively keep the Authenticity Police at bay? (And, where do these Authenticity Police set up their Fashion Traps? How much does a violation cost?) And the real, burning question:

“Does a monogram [or brand] equate taste?”

What’s in a logo, folks? I cannot fathom paying over five Benjamins to a multi-million dollar company so that I could advertise for them. Shouldn’t they be paying you to carry them around? It’s advertising!! The shortcut to “taste” seems mighty expensive to me.

What if you applied the “free T-shirt principle” to the concept? You just couldn’t. If you’re wearing a free T-shirt and wearing their logo or company name everywhere, thereby advertising for a company for free, at least part of the deal of the whole thing was, “Hey, the T-shirt was free.”

I found it especially amusing while noticing when three different girls were carrying exactly the same LV bag, because like, LV makes probably 20 total shapes, maximum, of their monogrammed bags. Oh yeah. That is truly worth spending the Bens … so that you could increase your odds on sharing the exact same “good taste” with the next brand-touting girl.

Perhaps good taste just enjoys company, in some respects? And then there’s also the “Prom dress principle.” Whatever happened to a girl’s worst fear being, for instance, Showing up to The Prom and finding two other girls are wearing the exact same dress? Don’t the monogrammed bags merely increase those chances??

Honestly, to me, it’s just baffling. And your explanations are welcome. I’m always open to the sense getting slapped into me. I have my own fashion “indulgences,” as you may already know.

(By the way, if your “C’s” and “Coach’s” are colored puce and green, that’s a [too big] indicator it’s definitely fake.)

Love, *e

Louis1 Louis2 Louis33268

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