Let's talk about Lazarus and Purses...namely Coach, Dooney & Burke, and YSL


Today’s Gospel hit a certain note for me.

Just TWO days ago I was expressing to a friend who shares the same values and ideals of placing family first (actually she’s even more pious about it than me) and not succumbing into commercialism and making our families or children go without. The discussion centered around me not “fitting in” or able to easily make friends in my new town. I told her I don’t fit in here in my own neighborhood due to language barriers and the color of my skin. YET when I drive two miles to take my children to gymnastics, I don’t really fit in with my own race because it seems the majority carry Coach, D&B or YSL purses. NOT ALL the mom’s, just the majority. OK that in itself is no big deal, but it seems that the purse-momma’s are all trying to out-do each other in size, latest style/color, and price tag. It’s a status symbol I understand, and there is a level of pride and wealth that SOME of the women are trying to express. I noticed the purse-momma’s don’t talk to me (I am currently carrying a small, checkered Dickies back pack. Yep Dickies, brand name of the working class! HAHA Paid $11 for it on sale!) and I don’t really talk to them. The one’s not spouting anything Coach love to chat with me, and when I try to talk to the purse-momma’s it really requires some work. They take one look at my cheap purse and I have my work cut out for me. Six months at Gymnastics and I am convinced of the great purse-divide!

Basically we ended the conversation in agreement that if someone should give us a purse of this nature – we would both sell it and feed our families – for a MONTH. LOL Seriously though. I think they are ugly. My friend does too. It’s not just a point of excess, it’s a point of taste. Since we find them ugly, nobody and their consumerism standards would make us carry one.

So ANYWAY, today DH and I got all five of us into church early enough for a seat, and prepared for Mass. A nice family sat down in front of us: husband, wife, son (about 9/10) and daughter (about 12/13). The bells rang and people stood. For whatever reason I looked down into the seat before me and saw a Dooney & Burke purse – next to the little girl! I was literally shocked! So then I start scanning their pew convinced it must be mom’s purse. NOPE – over by mom sat an even bigger, fatter, badder Yves Saint Laurant (sp?) purse! :eek:

Yes, I realize completely that it’s none of my business, and if they want to buy their daughter a $200+ purse and can afford it – hey more power to them. Good for them.

Then came the Gospel and the Sermon. :thumbsup: Ahh that poor Lazarus. The priest made mention that Lazarus’ name was remembered, where the rich man was only referred to by that fact: rich. It raced across my mind that you won’t be known in the after life as “Coach, D&B or YSL” so why is it so important to carry those names on your bag?

I started scanning the room, and there were A LOT of these purses. A LOT. If each woman sold her purse, even used, she could feed a family of five for an entire week. WOW huh? I know it’s not just here either. I saw it in my last parish. I saw it in another state in another parish. The Navy Base NEX sells them, discounted, to the tune of the lowest priced one being about $180. OF COURSE I LOOKED – I wanted to know what the big deal was with these purses!

So tell me – have you noticed the purse-craze too? Have you bought in to the purse-craze? Have you gone without to own one of these fat-priced, nearly identical to each other purses? Does it make you feel better or “part of” to carry one? Do you actually LIKE the look?

Now, now, I am not acting all righteous, I have my own name brand love (Betsey Johnson) but I have yet to buy a dress full price, even when I had the money and no children. Again it’s taste. I think Betsey makes anyone look hot, great dresses, fabric and cuts. Not to mention the shoes. Typically, (unless I am out in Hollywood – really rare these days, three kids and the fourth on the way) nobody knows who the heck I am wearing, and certainly can’t spot it because her initials are not all over the clothes. Just saying.

The purse thing confounds me though. What say you all?


I am not a fancy purse person. I see no point in spending so much money on a brand name. I would also bet a lot of those designer purses your seeing are actually knock-offs. There’s a big craze around here-purse parties. These are parties that sell trademark counterfeit purses. Their in home like a Tupperware party. Look like the real thing, have the designer tag but are not made by the designer.


They might have brought them on e-bay or at a yard sale. My niece found a great used Kate Spade purse at a yard sale cheap.
My boss has bought several used Coach purses on e-bay cheap too.

Me - I look on purses as purely utilitarian objects. A purse is something for me to carry my stuff in and all I ask is that it be roomy enough and have a shoulder strap. I usually buy them when they’ve been marked down 75%. The very idea of paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for a silly purse is foreign to my thinking.


I’m not a person who likes to buy designer things merely for the name on the item. However, I do understand and appreciate the concept of buying fewer, well-made items versus more trendy, or “disposable” garments, etc. The money that any individual can spend even on her few garments may be dictated by her income, her lifestyle and her priorities. I have sewn for years to duplicate the quality construction and materials in my clothing that some people pay designers top dollar to obtain.

A Coach or Dooney bag is usually $100s rather than $1000s like some of the trendier designer names you see celebrities carrying. Some people would rather save their money and purchase one or two of these quality bags in perhaps leather that can be reconditioned instead of a series of poorly made pleather or fabric bags.

I don’t think that merely owning a nice bag is a sign of waste or snobbery. I have a couple of classic leather bags that were passed on to me by my grandmother after they served her well for decades. She taught me to care for my shoes, belts and bags with regular cleaning, shining and occasional trips to the repair shop. Now, I’m wondering if someone is sitting in mass judging me on what they think is my expensive taste in clothing or bags or jewelry. If someone spends time getting to know me, they find that I’m the queen of off-price bargains who will freely share my hunting grounds.

OP, does it really matter that you are of a different race than the ladies in your neighborhood for purposes of getting to know them better? Even a language barrier can be overcome if you try. I lived in a foreign country for years and it is possible to pick up a language. Besides, the women you hear speaking Spanish or whatever may also speak English if you speak to them first.

I’m a woman of color and I’ve almost always stuck out because of where I’ve lived, worked and gone to school. My profession (law) is primarily white males, but it does not mean that I have not forged many good relationships. I have women friends of every color and many, many different ethnic groups. In fact, I was sitting around a large table with a number of these ladies last night after a Catholic women’s retreat and the thought popped into my head that we were the most diverse group of people in the place. Our shared connection is our strong Catholic faith.


My mom got a nice pink purse for not that much as some shoe store. She gets compliments on it all the time. It sports no brand name.

I use a simple brown purse. It’s for keeping my money, bank card and driver’s license in. Other than that, I don’t care.

Anyone who judges someone else by their purse needs to watch out: Judge not least ye be judged and all that.


Yeah I thought about that. Gymnastics class I can bet dollars to donuts they are real. Church: 50/50 gamble.

I posted this and went to sit down and finish September’s Real Simple Magazine and the back page features one of their readers. Apparently Simone Pratt “wouldn’t be caught DEAD carrying a bad knockoff bag!”

I’m telling you – this purse thing is out of CONTROL. :smiley:


That’s me, too. I was not even aware of purses being that big of a deal. Guess I’m out of the fashion loop! :smiley: That doesn’t surprise me. Now I am going to start looking at people’s purses to see if this is true around here. Though I wouldn’t recognize those brands unless they are labeled as such.

Personally, I don’t even like having to carry a purse and didn’t carry one for years(when I was in the Navy). Then I broke down and carried a fanny pack until my dds got to the age where they were fashion conscious and let me know how dorky fanny packs were. :shrug: So they got me to start carrying a purse, which I find to be somewhat of a pain. I usually keep the same one for years until it either falls apart or I get tired of it.

No, I wouldn’t spend lots of money on a purse, either, even if we could afford it. Seems like a waste of money to me.

To the OP–I think your Dickies backpack sounds like my style! I may go the backpack route next time I’m looking to replace my purse.


Peri – I believe I was trying to make the same point you were. I DO understand spending more money on quality items. I would rather spend $50 on a great pair of never out of style jeans, than $12 on a pair from Walmart which will probably fall apart. Like I said I am a lover of Betsey Johnson. I wait for sales and literally save money to buy them. Or I buy them on ebay. I ALSO sew to make knock-off’s of dresses I like. I had a strong desire to have a yellow dress with red piping. Just had to have it, so I have been looking for the perfect yellow fabric, the perfect red piping, and even searched for the perfect vintage pattern to make it! I also have a family to budget in, so my wants can wait.

I once heard GREAT advice about not buying something JUST BECAUSE it’s on sale. Save up, buy the more expensive item, the classic, and wear it for years. Hence my two little black dresses were extremely expensive and brand-name, but are classic and are STILL used.

I wasn’t JUDGING the people in front of me, it just surprised me that a child is carrying a Dooney and Burke. It makes me sad to see someone so young caring what type of bag they carry.

As for me personally, I am actively seeking out friends: in my neighborhood. Hispanic people who do speak english, other mother’s at the school for instance, have been very friendly and helpful. My neighbor, who recently moved was AWESOME. But she moved - and I think due to foreclosure, so she might have been embarrassed to tell me she was going – they just up and left. It made me sad. The mother across the street RUNS when I come over to get her daughter to translate for us. She doesn’t even stay out to try and talk to me, or let me try my rusty spanglish. I have been given the big thumbs-up from my local Mexican Market Butcher for even TRYING to order in Spanish, he actually thanked me saying that other Latino’s won’t bother to speak Spanish. So I do try. I have met some frustration, and I have met some racism. Surely as a woman of color, you know what I am talking about. I keep on trucking though. I haven’t entirely given up. Can you honestly say you wouldn’t understand my frustration that hispanic women in the park want to chat me up to ask “who watches your children?” Well I do. “Who cleans your house then?” Well I do. Please don’t ask who does my lawn. So I make a joke and say: “write it in your calander: Gringa who cleans her own clothes, her own house and cares for her children – yep you just met her! So can your children meet mine at the park next Tuesday?” That part is hard on me. It is. BUT I TRY.

Actually, in confidence with you – the one mom from gymnastics I befriended, want to hang out with, want our children to hang-out and do the play date thing IS a woman of color. She is simply fabulous in the friend department. The kind of lady who I admire and respect, and get along with. I really like her kids, as my kids like her kids. We hit it off like peas and carrots. My purse choice obviously didn’t betray my personality at all. I have no time for elitest white women with nothing better to do than sit around and gossip, flashing their purses, but that’s just me.

I feel like a ship without a port. I do. When I left our last base my best friends were, in no particular order: Native American, an
African American, a couple of white ladies from the Midwest, and a Hispanic girl from East LA. Here the races seem so segregated I am saddened. Frustrated. All I am trying to say is that I like a more rainbow-atmosphere, it’s the way I was raised, and where I am comfortable. I have an entire Vietnamese family, including adoptive parents. I have an African American ex-step-sister (not our faults our parent’s split). I don’t like to feel racism. I don’t like what the California Southland seems to have become. It is frustrating. It’s very frustrating. I was raised here. I have had such a wide variety of friends of so many races, it truely breaks my heart to see such seperation.

The purse’s aren’t the problem, the elitists and the segregation is my personal problem. I was trying to be light and funny about it – those purse momma’s – because in actuality I am sad that women would judge other’s “worth” by the brand of their purse. Like I said, in church it’s a bit different, none-the-less, as stated: if you can afford it – by all means – buy it. However is it because you really LIKE the style or is it because buying it makes you fit in? I plainly stated I don’t like the style, and I wonder if everyone who carries them really likes the style – or the initials printed on the side of the bag? My opinion. Again, not to be righteous: but show me a Betsey Johnson dress and I melt like butter. :shrug:

Let’s face it: a woman who carries herself well, in confidence and kindness, with a giving and charitable heart is worth far more than a Coach Purse. It’s heartbreaking to see those initials determine anyone’s WORTH.


OK, I’m laughing because other than Coach (which has been around forever), I didn’t recongize the other brands! LOL I even had to google Betsy Johnson to know what her dresses looked like. And you know what? To me they looked basically like any other dress! I’m a classics kinda gal, so even as a young working woman, I didn’t spend too much time worrying about the hip brands. So, nah, I’m not a purse-momma, but I wouldn’t wear a fanny pack as a purse either given a choice.

Your real concern is much greater and deeper. Especially as Catholics our identity should be tied up in our race or cultural heritage. It is sad when people will only ‘hang’ with other who are just like them. It means they don’t realize that we are all really alike under the skin.


SIGH! GASP! NOT regular dresses! LOL Just kidding. Really though, when I go shopping for a special occasion dress I just can’t find anything that fits me like a Betsey. Her fabrics are divine, but more importantly: the cut. Really, I promise, there is a difference between a Betsey and any other dress. I am not talking super-skinny-ninny only fitting a super model or a starlet, I mean there is just some THING about the way her dresses are cut and sewn to look fabulous – no matter your shape. They are also rediculously expensive. YET if you choose wisely: your choice will not go out of style. She’s timeless.

Your real concern is much greater and deeper. Especially as Catholics our identity should be tied up in our race or cultural heritage. It is sad when people will only ‘hang’ with other who are just like them. It means they don’t realize that we are all really alike under the skin.

That is what I am saying. EXACTLY what I am saying.


The commercialism thing gets to me too. Luckily for me we live in a very small town with no retail shopping so no one can be too up on the trends unless they are making the 90 minute jaunt to the nearest mall every weekend.

I worry that people get all wrapped up in “things”. I actually feel sorry for them. You carry that Dickies backpack with pride and be as nice as pie to the purse Mommies. Maybe one of them will hurl her purse into the sea knowing there’s more to life than what’s on her shoulder - and be free of the rules of fashion. They probably all hate the purse war and secretly want to be just like you - confident enough to carry the Dickies backpack.

(I know I’m being smart here but I’m thinking you’ll get the picture.)


Yeah, after years in the Navy, backpacks (water, money, souvenirs, sketchbook, jacket, maps, etc., etc.) for tromping around various foreign ports were more my style.

Years and years after getting out of the navy, I finally decided that maybe I should make some effort to get a little style. Purse-wise, that meant Kohl’s. I checked out the fancy department stores, but I hate paying someone so I can carry a purse that’s a billboard for their company. Good grief, why not paste the .com address in flashing lights on the side?!?

Anyways, I found this cute little purse. It looks like a bustier (I picked the cute green with purple trim and laces one, not the black with red lace!). I turned it down the first time, but found it at 50% the next week, so I bought it. (DH’s comment: “Tell me you aren’t taking that thing to church…” :stuck_out_tongue: ) A month later, the few remaining purses were on clearance at $5, so I bought a spare in yellow and purple. For a total of $17, I have two cute, small purses… and I get compliments on them pretty much every time I go out! (Kohl’s is great for trendy-looking, but inexpensive, stuff.)

Yeah, I was sitting in church this morning listening to the Gospel and remembering my in-laws raving over a cousin who is a judge and attorney… 6,000 sf mansion, nanny for his five kids (plus mom stays home), cook, housekeeper, gardener… “Well, he’s got to spend his money somehow!” Hello? What about charities? And then there was the article in the paper about the state delegate with her garage full of 500 outfits (complete with coordinating shoes and prescription eyeglasses)…

I agree with the OP. An occasional luxury is perfectly acceptable, especially if you’re going to use it until you wear it out. That doesn’t sound like what’s going on with the purses, though. Maybe try somewhere other than gymnastics to find friends?


By the grace of God my husband has a well paying job that allows me a fair amount of flexibility with money.
I will echo what another poster said, that I have definitely found that the cheaper items fall apart more quickly, and ultimately cost a lot more money.
I am weeks from my 7th child, I homeschool, I take my children to daily Mass and we make our growth in Christ our first priority.
That said, I carry a Dooney and Bourke purse, and my clothes come from, almost exclusively, Talbots or the like. I did pay full price at the NEX for my bag, but I only buy my clothes on sale (have you seen that Talbots has added an outlet to their web site shopping?) and I have shoes and clothes that have lasted for years.
One thing is surely in my mind when I make my purchases, although it is not my top priority. I do not want anyone to look at me and my 7 children and think to themselves, “Well, she looks like heck, and that’s exactly why I’m not having more than one or two kids.” Most people are expecting me to look frumpy and unattractive, and IMO, that is not a good witness to the married life. I want to keep a smile on my face and a spring in my step whenever I am out with my family.
One does not have to shop at Talbots or carry Coach purses to look “together” though, and if it causes financial hardship they mustn’t be bought. If you look at the Talbots outlet, though, or if you’ve ever shopped their final markdown prices, you will see that their clothes can be even less than WalMart!
I’m not sure about all Navy communities, but the one I live in has a tremendous amount of ethnic diversity, as well as deep Catholic friendships without regard to rate or rank.


I refuse to support the fashion industry by spending all sorts of money on clothes and accessories. I have two everyday purses, both classic, functional Stone Mountain bags which I bought at outlet stores. One is beige for spring/summer, the other is black for fall/winter. When they start to look ratty, all it takes is some cleaning with saddle soap and a new coat of shoe polish, and they look almost-new again. I do have a wee black satin evening bag which has been in my closet for at least 20 years, and which sees the light of day for formal occasions only. I also have a compact nylon bag for camping from Eddie Bauer, which I picked up several years ago at a thrift store for $1.99. I’m the same way with shoes, choosing comfort and durability over fashion, but I’m old enough not to care what others think. Anyone who would shun me for my choice in accessories is not someone I would care to associate with, anyway. If they think I’m a frumpy old lady, that’s their problem…but I’m an old frump who is *debt-free * and may well be able to take an early retirement because of my thrifty ways, and I’m proud of it! :thumbsup:


I would personally not be one bit concerned about the condition of someone’s soul based on outward appearances because appearances can be so deceiving.

It is easy (and perfectly human too) to jump to a conclusion about anyone, whether that be a homeless person or someone we beleive to be very rich.

The purses you see could be a gift from someone and the people who carry them could be very kind and loving people. Then again the people could be selfish and snobbish and use the purses as a status symbol…the point is, we just don’t know.

When you are at Mass and your mind is concerned with others around you, do the best you can to offer this up to Jesus as prayer. Beleive me I have faced the same problem. It is tempting to look at others and what they are wearing and how they are behaving and get distracted from the purpose of Mass. When you are at Mass and thinking about how much someone else’s purse costs and that it could feed homeless people…what is happening is that you are being distracted by Satan and not participating as you should be at Mass. Satan wants us to get irritated with one another, Satan wants us to “size each other up”, Satan wants to distract us from prayer especially at Mass.

You are not the only one who does this I assure you! I am just pointing out that letting your mind “go there” at Mass is not useful and I will pray for you as this is a struggle for many, including myself. Hope this helps. Thanks for sharing your story.


I didn’t get a change to read all the replies yet, but just wanted to mention that there are lots of fakes out there. My 13 year old niece has 4 or 5 Coah, Spade, Chanel, etc., purses that look quite real. Maybe the little girl’s purse was fake?

Also, I really like Vera Bradley (mostly received as gifts) and my 22 month old daughter has been known to tote her toys around town in one of my older ones :stuck_out_tongue:


I second this thought. About one year ago I was at a yard sale (I looooove searching for treasures and bargains at yard sales hehe) and saw a “Burberry” purse that had the perfect colors for my outfits. The woman had bought it (along with a bunch of other purses) in Indonesia when her husband was stationed around there and hadn’t used it. It didn’t sound like it was real, but other people that are more familiar with the label told me it is. I dunno. I paid $15 for it and love it, I used to change purses to match outfits but this one seems to match almost all of my clothes and I can use it everyday and it has kept up well. I did look online to see how much it would cost to replace it once it does finally crumble, but saw its about $475 :eek: . Oh well…


Some of the purses may have been chosen for quality. A good leather Coach bag is going to run upwards of $150, but I know of ladies who have used theirs for 20+ years. I tend to purchase my handbags at Target and have never had a purse last for more than a couple of years, so it’s starting to make some sense to save up and pay decent money for something that you expect to use for the next decade or two.

And yes, a lot of women do use such things as status symbols. I read recently that the purses are receding and shoes will be the next status symbol, so get ready. I guess it’s time for me to invest in a new pair of clogs. :rolleyes:


I’ve gotten $300 purses for $20 as well. So just because some one has an expensive purse doesn’t mean that they spend tons of money on it.


I am so “unclassed” I couldn’t pick out a name brand purse if it slapped me in the face… LOL!
I mean, honestly, they all look alike to me!
I like having cute and stylish bags, but you can find cute bags at Target and JCPenney too!

I guess my point is… I have no idea how many of my friends carry name brand bags! I’ve never looked.

If they’re looking at my bag and judging me then I have no clue that even goes on.

My only advice… stop looking… ignorance is bliss in this regard!

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