another lovely bag surfaces at Target

Handbags have a lot to live up to. They have to be at their best in all weather and in almost all situations. They have to yield up their contents under pressure (BUS PASS. NOW. I MEAN IT.) They must refrain from bad habits, like eating your manicure. And they have to be as poised as Melanie Wilkes when someone who's having a wet pizza for lunch runs into you as you're running downstairs. They have to have a pocket ready at all times into which you can stuff still another free sample of Remede eye cream (worth it). Here we arrive at the great handbag conundrum: if it costs enough to do all of that and still look terrific doing it, chances are it will cost a fortune and you'll hesitate to wear it out among the Visigoths. Yet what is that capital investment doing for you if it spends most of its time in its sleeper bag on a shelf in a well-ventilated closet?

It is for the purpose of resolving this conundrum that a loving and compassionate Higher Power allows Target to flourish upon the land.  From a distance - usually a great distance - Target knock-offs look good. Target knock-offs often look good enough to foment litigation. I discussed my adventures with Target's version of this past spring's "It" bag here Target knock-off 1 and my further adventures with said bag Target knock-off 2 here.
J.Crew Jericho Tote
(shamelessly copied
from web site)

Target knock-offs
(Iphone strikes again!)
Recently I visited my friendly local Target  to reconnoiter where they might put out the cream of the Missoni collaboration, when I noticed the reverse of the "It" bag adventure: that is, I already own the original and now it's being knocked off. Very cheaply, I might add. However, the black and the taupe are definitely basic, hard to get more basic, the vinyl is spill-proof, and you can certainly put stuff in it and get it out again. Unlike the previous "It" thing, you don't smell it from across the store either,  definitely a plus.

Now another conundrum: Which is preferable?
  • to buy a cute cheap bag and find out that it's meant to be a version of a v. expensive Madison Avenue arm candy (how uncool of me not to know!)
  • to buy the v. expensive Madison Avenue arm candy and see the knock-off everywhere
  • to buy the v. expensive Madison Avenue arm candy and see the knock-off everywhere, but only after a few years or some decent interval of your choice has elapsed so that you don't feel offended by the knock-off
  • to buy the  v. expensive Madison Avenue arm candy for occasions and grab a few of the knock-offs for days like the field trip to the Great Swamp that your neighbor signed you up for in revenge for your writing her name on the Cookie Chair list....
  • to buy the knock-off because it's Cheap, and it's There, and not to worry about stupid things like v. expensive arm candy, because the spouse of one who is Serving His Country will be visiting us soon and boyoboy do we have better things to do with the money! 


  1. I don't mind knock-offs but I can't do synthetic. Gap used to make great copies of Marc Jacobs bags, but all leather; I still wear those, they have aged well. My bags usually do spend quite some time in the closet before I gather the courage to introduce it to the elements and, worse, my children. Husband, though, tends to buy me very stiff and precious arm candy and those hardly ever see daylight. Because the outside would get scratched by playground wood-chips and the inside by errant Lego pieces and sharp tiny Barbie feet.

  2. Hi, Dinster, I have some knock-offs and some "good" bags, and wouldn't you know, it's always the "good" ones that are dirt-and-food-stain magnets, while the knock-offs stay Forever Pristine. I've actually seen women on the subway carrying bags in plastic bags! So this "how to deal with a good purse" business is a widespread worry.

  3. Thank you for the chuckle.

    Last year Fossil had a pink tote very similar to that as well. But at least that one was leather.

  4. Love this struggle. Do you know Wendy Gallagher's book on hand bags? Great little book with surprising revelations about who buys fakes among the rich and famous. ( Her book on houses is wonderful too-- I think she is UWS).

    I have no IT bags and no copies although the Darlington bag does look a bit silmilar to the previous IT bag, do you think? I just got the black one as it will be good for a fall trip to Italy.

    Good bags in plastic? Reminds me of those ladies in the 60's who covered their white sofas with plastic. I think we should use things we own, even if it wears them out,

  5. I'm undecided. I like a good "inspired-by" cheap bag, but I'm personally not a fan of a complete knock-off - I feel too personally self-conscious about it. But I am all about buying less expensive bags to handle my more "rough and tumble" trips. I've got some ole school J. Crew quilted totes that I use for flying - I can fit a ton of stuff in them, they don't fall all over themselves on the floor, and don't mind getting knocked around. I am totally one of those people who will coddle her more expensive bags. Hm, did I totally tangent off here?

  6. Southern Belle Ph.D.August 26, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    Good Morning WFF. Hope you are ready for the hurricane headed your way. Regarding handbags, there is a saying, "Life is short and then you die." I buy the real things. Had a nice Italian leather JC tote that was sprinkled on and never was soft again. Now I purchase Louis Vuitton purses and love them. I use the Monogram bag for everyday as it does not show dirt and does perfectly in water. It also carries a can of Coke and bags of crackers for those times I need food! I have others which are the Epi leather for better occasions. You have several of the beautiful Hermes scarves. I am working on one of those!!!

    Please be safe!

  7. Love all these points of view! I have a thing about other people's initials on my stuff, has to do with the chilling effect of once seeing them on (ahem) sheets and pillowcases at an unfortunate time. This has translated to logos. Otherwise I find myself agreeing with all of you: however you enjoy a good bag, the important thing is, it's YOURS!

    Hurricane preparations in the city: would like to bring stuff inside from terraces, but there wouldn't be room for me. Have made sure wine closet is accessible (but only to me). Candles, matches, gas stove, um, water...

    And Himself awaits me at Flintstone Manor, where we have stocked up on candles, matches, gas stove, um, water... nibbles, gassed up cars.

    Oh, and I got cash from ATM early this morning.

    Also got color touched up yesterday. Will look v. appealing to EMTs if necessary.

    So many people are having much worse experiences than we expect. I worry for them and for the foolhardy.

  8. Wish you the best for the hurricane.
    They didn't used to exist over the Mediterranean, but these past years we had our share of something close to strong tropical storms. Very weird, beautiful in their way, but also scary.

  9. thanks for good wishes, SouthernBellePhD and Cris! just arrived at Flintstone Manor and found very bemused guy wondering why I insisted he pay for water when beer is cheaper.


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