Friday, February 04, 2005

Fake Purse Ninjas: Part Deux

How do you feel about fake purses?

Here’s how I feel about it: if it looks real enough to pass, it’s fine, if it’s an obvious attempt to badly plagiarize a designer, it’s not only not worth it, it’s down right wrong (fashionably speaking).

But let’s be clear…it’s not about the NAME BRAND. I am super opposed to blatant free advertising for the designer, or having a brand emblazoned in any font that is visible at 4 feet. Seriously… Didn’t we suffer enough as junior high wannabes only wearing and paying for Guess jeans and making sure the triangle was ALWAYS visible? Enough, I say! Don’t be fooled! Just because you can see the name doesn’t make it cool.
Bad Screaming Designer

I love you, Isaac Mizrahi, but I don’t want your name all over my tote… it’s a cheap trick.

It’s about the DESIGN, you see. It’s about timeless pieces, pieces that will be timeless for about 2 years, and classic design. I think that most people would want to be perceived as being intelligent and savvy right along side “fashionable.”

Here are the originals. You have seen these patterns knocked off 10,000 times. If your pattern doesn’t match these exactly, you are wearing a fake, and does the thought of that make you feel good? To be a faker? Best to just be original.

Authentic Fendi
Authentic Gucci
Authentic Coach
Authentic Louis

It’s tricky to go for the “logo-ed” bags. There are just too many imposters. If you are interested in a designer bag like this from e-bay or the brand retailer, do your homework first. In Houston, there is a section of town known as “Harwin”. This is where all the Asian import stores are. It’s LOADS of fun. After the recent federal crackdown on fake purses (not kidding), it’s harder to find the good “fakes.” If I do my homework before I go, I know what to look for. I can look at e-bay or Bergdorf-Goodman to find what the original looks like then buy the closest thing to it.

Stay away from bags that look like this. It's not the color or's the logo.

Fake 2
Fake 3
Fake 1
Fake 4

I almost made a HUGE mistake once. When Coach came out with their “C” logo line I found a bunch at Harwin. But there were also identical bags with “G’s”. I couldn’t remember if the bag was a Gucci or a Coach and I ALMOST bought the imposter “G” bag. I hadn’t done my homework, and I might have ended up with an embarrassing fake. Horrors… My advice is that if you are not so familiar with the big designers logos and styles, stay away from that type of bag.

Here are some basic bag categories. Let’s look at some DO’s

…for the professional…

If you need to carry a lot of papers and binders and stuff you need a “briefcase” type solution. This bag could be leather most of the year with a FEW good canvas bags that can be used during the appropriate warmer weather, or if treated properly, the canvas can be “dressed up” and used year round. But with a canvas bag, it must be kept impeccably clean. And just because a bag is leather doesn’t mean it has to be manly or NOT fun… Although black and brown ARE versatile, try a camel brown or a wonderful texture such as crocodile in any color… yummy. Snake skin is very fun, but too “fancy” for everyday (remember to keep some things special…). Besides, strippers usually don’t carry laptops to work. Save the snakeskin for your small bags and shoes.

Favorite picks: if you are a weathly heiress, socialite, or celebrity I would recommend the Hermes Birkin. Classis design and styling that has already been around for years and will be classic for years to come…if you’ve got $10,000 that is…
Birkin 40 cm
Birkin 2

If you are a regular person, try the new laptop bags from Target. They don’t necessarily fall into the professional category they might be designed more for students, but they are classy and passable. They are super fun and simple. And affordable…
Canvas Laptop tote
Laptop 2
Laptop 1
Laptop 3

…for the Mom…

For those of you with diapers and wipes and toys and a change of clothes, you all probably went through the right of passage that is a “diaper bag.” With the first child you were ready for interstellar travel with all you were carrying “just in case.” With the second or third child, you have nailed down what is truly essential, and you are ready for the NEW diaper bag…the one that looks like it doesn’t actually have diapers in it… I laugh when I see designer come out with “The Diaper Bag.”
Kate Spade Diaper Bag

It may have all sorts of logos and bells and whistles, but it still looks like a diaper bag, and can often lead to the “harried” effect if you are ALSO carrying a purse and pushing a stroller.

Fave picks for the “new diaper bag”:

UGG makes a shearling bag that would be darling as a diaper bag. If you are annoyed with the prolific ness of all things UGG (like I am) and you don’t want to give any money to the UGG empire, go for one of the UGG knockoffs at Target. They are cute and affordable, and make a great winter “mommy” bag. Think pouches in the diaper bag, ladies…
UGG diaper 250
Medium 7

Nordstrom has several clever bags that AREN’T BLACK and are cleverly disguised diaper bags. Target also has many bags to choose from. All of these are chosen from the diaper bag section from both stores, but keep in mind that MOST cute bags can be used as a diaper bag if you keep the load simple and use the pouch rule.
Manly diaper bag
Cool diaper bag 1
Cool Diaper bag 2
Cool diaper bag 3
Cool diaper bag 4
Mini diaper bag

…the evening bag…

An evening bag should be small. No one is going to expect you to have a past receipt, a coupon, a change of clothes, formula, wipies, or a full scale hair brush while you’re out on the town (unless one or all of those items have been discussed ahead of time…). Keep it simple: face powder, lipstick, some cash or a card, ID, a key or two (you don’t have to take the WHOLE key chain you know…so noisy!), perfume (sample size), etc. Evening bags tend not to have straps. Handles, yes, but not usually full-on shoulder straps unless they are thin and delicate. Clutches are very popular these days, but perhaps you need something you can sling over your arm.

Fave picks for the evening bag:

Evening 1
Evening 2
Evening 3
Evening 4
Evening 5
Evening 6

Nordstrom has a ton. I am in love with the iridescent snakeskin because it is SO special. The evening bag does NOT NOT NOT have to match your dress or your shoes. Your shoes do NOT NOT NOT have to match your dress or your handbag. A less-expensive retailer such as Target will not have as nice evening bags and the ones they do have might look cheap. Ask Grandma if she’s got a nice vintage beaded thing lying around. I’ll bet she does…

…the basic purse…

Today, we have many styles of purses. I could not even begin to cover them all. So I will stick with some basic, but current styles and divide them in to large, medium, and small categories. Remember the Don’ts! I will also try to give a range of products and prices. If you click on the photos, you will be linked to the site where such items may be purchased. (I receive no commission, but am working on that…)


Only if you need it, ladies… or if you must escape from a wicked lover and a suitcase would be too conspicuous…
Large 1
Large 2
Large 3
Large 4


This is the standard, everyday size. Much to choose from… Don’t just think color. Think texture and shape, too. Todays styles are all about structure. The more “with it” purses are solid looking and have a definite shape. This is not the age of the cloth satchel with organic lines, but the leather satchel with definite shape metal hardware…Also, never chose a bag that is hard to get into, or that has difficult hardware. You will regret it all your days. My lovely “Gucci” has an aggravating clasp, and even though it is blood red crocodile, I am loath to use it… quelle triste!

Medium 1
Medium 2
Meduim 3
Medium 4
Medium 5
Medium 6
Medium 7
Medium 8


The small purse is the law of parsimony in action. I admire a woman with a small purse. She’s got her act together and she’s no nonsense.

Small 1
Small 2
Small 3
Small 4
Small 5
Small 6

A quick word about wallets…

Women have HUGE wallets. I personally liberated myself from the large wallet years ago and have never looked back. I use a slim line wallet from J.Crew and a coin purse. Not only am I forced to DO something with all the receipts my wallet and purse accumulate, I also tend to leave non-essential cards and such at home, relieving me of any temptation that an “emergency” card might afford.
J.Crew Wallet

Again, the disclaimer, this is about personal style. If you did not see a bag you liked according to MY guidelines, I will not disown you as a friend. I might pity you or feel sorry for you, but I will NOT dislike you. You do your thing. Just keep in mind that what YOU think is fashionable might have changed in the last few years (months, days, minutes…). Being fashionable is not going to determine your salvation, or life form in the next circle of life…

If someone is dressing nicely they are being considerate. They are thinking of me by not making me look at their ugly clothes. A nicely dressed person is a person who looks outward, not inward. They take notice of the world around them, and they are keeping up with things.

Check out other great bags at J.Crew, Gap, and the Banana Republic. EBay also has nice bags, but keep in mind the following: if it says that the bag is authentic, but it only costs $18.95 and it hails from Beijing…it’s probably not real. If you are buying a designer bag, look for proof of authentication: photos of details (zipper pulls, linings, rivets, etc.), authentication certificates, and registration cards…
Purse with Credentials

Gook Luck, ladies… please feel free to add your tips and two bits…

Check out bags at these other sites...I promise you won't be disappointed...

Bergdorf GOodman
Kate Spade
Banana Republic
Old Navy


Suzie Petunia said...

You are a fashion-savvy genious! I am constantly amazed at your intuitive-ness regarding woman at various stages of life and assesing their needs. Your extensive knowledge, straight-forward opinions and darn-good writing skills must be brought to the attention of those products/companies you endorse! Pro bono is admirable, but, could be making you some money!

Alice said...

Carrie Ann… You are amazing. I think you should write for Lucky.

Sarah Marinara said...

Girl you have done it again. I so have a hankering for a new purse now... and I just bouught one last month! Seriously, I'm saving my pennies and you and I are going shopping when I come out to Utah this summer. Start thinking of all the cool places you'll take me. I'm going to double my work out's so I can be a more acceptable size by then ;)

Star said...

Can I quote you from your own post?-

"If someone is dressing nicely they are being considerate. They are thinking of me by not making me look at their ugly clothes. "

Carrie Ann I love it! Bless your beautiful hide! I am laughing way too loud right now!

Marcy Dibbleblotts said...

Once I was buying a fake purse in NYC at Rockefeller Center. Immediately AFTER I had paid, all these vans opened suddenly and cops came pouring out and all the vendors took off. It was exciting. Unfortunately the party I was with had all this stuff in their hands that they got to keep for free, and I was left with my purse I had already paid for.

Carly said...

Okay, so you met my mom last night--"1,2,3 THRUST!"--and I'm wondering if you might be able to help me come up with a purse solution for her. She has spent the last twenty years in search of the perfect purse system with little luck. She uses her purse for work, shopping, and church. But the problem is that she also carries a HUGE work bag and church bag, too. She always has bags slung over each shoulder. She also can't ever find anything in her current purse, which is medium-large and full of compartments, etc. She misses phone calls because her cell phone is lost in all the compartments. I think she needs a major adjustment, but where do we begin?

Carrie Ann said...

M'Arse, that is as hilarious as it is tragic. I would still be reliving that in dreams except I grabbed the whole table of stuff. Should I stop calling you M'Arse?

Carly, it was a delight to meet your mom. I can't believe how much you and Kacy and Mom ACT a like. I can totally see or Kacy saying "THRUST" and then blogging about it later.

I will consider your mom's purse's a good one...a challenge. There's a really funny "Jow vs. the Volcano" quote that goes here, but it's way too obscure.

Marcy Dibbleblotts said...

No, please, I like M'Arse. The end to my story is that after the exciting cops moment we were walking down the street and the guy who was selling the fake stuff jumped out at us from around the corner and started trying to grab his stuff back out of everyone's hands. It was actually a little scary but we just headed back toward the cops.

Alice said...

You have not addressed the man purse. My father carries a “man” purse, have you considered addressing the man purse issues?

Suzie Petunia said...

How can one NOT laugh out loud at the word "THRUST", when it comes out of the mouth of such a sweet, mild-mannered woman...who you just barely met. In fact, I'm laughing all over again, reliving the hilariously lovely moment. I will post the picture ASAP. I'm feeling very sorry I don't live closer right now...I could use more laughs like that!

Regarding the man purse... I'm no fasion expert, but the other day I saw a missionary at church carrying a black bag with a shoulder strap. Ok, they usually carry backpacks, and I thought it admirable that this accessory actually "went" with his dark suit. But, even *I* know that the GOLD BUCKLES on the bag were not acceptable on a man-purse. Way too much purse, not enough man.

Then again, his companion IS gay, so what-cha-gonna do? He has bigger issues to worry about than his man-purse. Or, maybe his companion GAVE it to him. Now that I write that, it is the most logical conclusion.

I'm going to hell.

mo said...

I'm sitting here trying to imagine how the word "thrust" comes up in casual conversation with an older woman you have just met. Anyone want to give me the whole scoop? By the way, I made a trip to "Harwin" last Friday with two of my girls and two friends. We saw some fabulous purses....we also saw some really weird ones--like the bag with a picture of a kitten on it whose head with in the middle of a hamburger with lettuce and the top of the bun on it's head...I can't begin to describe it but Abby and I had a good laugh. The most fabulous purse was shaped like a flared fan only smooth and looked so fashionable and sophisticated...I just couldn't picture myself carrying it into Kroger's or the temple. I know, no guts. I didn't buy a single purse, but then the middle-eastern man with the really bad toupee wasn't there to convince me how much I needed one. I did buy Carrie Ann a very unusual and very interesting gift....and it's not a purse. I'm just trying to decide on what occasion I should give it to her. Thanks for another amazing fashion discourse Ceeb.

Amy Lynn said...

Carrie Ann...did you include the furry diaper bag just to make me feel OK about my choice in bags? I love and adore my fake fur pink diaper bag. I made a good choice without knowing I was. Wow. I'm still working on the hosiery and tights.