I Have Failed the Challenge (But I have an awesome purse)
This is the month the Conscious Shopper challenges us to be non-consumers to whatever extent possible. I have blown it.
Now, in my own defense, I was in a place where there was very limited internet, and I still have a backlog of entries to read. So I hadn’t read the challenge when it happened. And even without it, it’s something I have aspired to fairly regularly for a long time. I buy very few clothes–every year I seem to break down and get a couple of shirts at retail, because a couple of my previous years’ ones have spots or tears in them and are no longer wear-to-work-able, but primarily I do my shopping through ebay, thrift stores, and hand-me-downs.
But there I was in the Hemporium, one of my favorite quirky little shops in Bar Harbor, Maine, walking around enjoying the place as usual. I knew I was safe with all the adorable flowy “free size” dresses and skirts from India, because my ample behind is just a little too ample to look good in those. But then…among a bunch of just sort of normal-cute hemp shoulder bags and briefcases, I saw….The Purse.
Now, I have never been one to lay down ample sums of money on a variety of stylish or seasonal purses. I am honestly somewhere between bewildered and envious of my friends who have these coordinating bags that seem to just work with whatever they are wearing, especially when they have those cute “C” insignias all over them. To me, the purse is a utilitarian item that must have many zippers and pockets, which makes it possible for me to schlep the Various Stuff I need to get through my day. Wallet, iphone, checkbook, inhaler, lip gloss, and two semi-massive sets of keys, along with the other crap that always seems to accumulate in there. I have in recent years made an effort to at least have a “summer purse” and a “winter purse” and accommodate to some degree of social competence, but it’s always an effort.
And the thing is, despite this, I feel like much of my life has been a search for the Perfect Purse. I’d never seen it, but I’d know what it would look like. It would be full of pockets and compartments, have a zip-top (so when it fell over nothing would spill out), and a dedicated compartment for my iphone. It would have at least two good-sized compartments, one for basics (wallet, checkbook, etc.) and one for The Other Stuff. And at least one little discreet zipper pocket for Woman Things and a little makeup. It would have a nice wide shoulder strap, adjustable, and it would be a nice happy color.
So I walk down the side aisle of the Hemporium, and there it is:
I hemmed. I hawed. I convinced myself I didn’t need it. I even left the store, figuring if I really wanted it I could always come back later. (It was the only one of its kind.) About half a block away I apologized to my husband and went back for it. It cost way more than I would ever normally spend on a purse. It cost way more than I had spent on the entire body of clothing I was wearing at the time, in fact. And yet, there I stood in my ebay khakis, my inspired-by-this-awesome-blogger thrift store linen dress-turned-blouse, my thrift store awesome Clark sandals, and my Goodwill purse (it’s a cute Goodwill purse, but I still only spent $4 on it), plunking down my credit card for The Perfect Purse.
I have no buyer’s remorse at all, honestly. It may sound like rationalization, but it still makes sense. Buying the purse meant I supported a local business I have always enjoyed, I supported the production of a material (hemp) that is sustainableand awesome and really deserves to be far more in the mainstream than it is. Besides, just LOOK at all these crazy little pockets inside!
It may not be a classy designer thing, it may be the One And Only Purse I carry for the next six months or more, but I love it.