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Does fashion have an expiration date?

*Both photos here courtesy of Lyndsey Chong. I blame her and all other enablers who feed my insatiable appetite for Chanel.

I belong to an online community that gabs about designer handbags. More specifically, I hang out in the forum where we discuss ad nauseum all things CHANEL. Now I may already have my fair share of Chanel goodies in my closet and have challenged myself to a total shopping ban in ’09 (well, before you congratulate me on my restraint, the ban is in anticipation of an exotic Birkin somewhere in the near future) (can’t wait till I go orange, but I digress…), I still love looking at the pictures posted by other members of the forum. Pictures of new bags as they are released. Pictures of old bags from beloved, past collections. Pictures of shoes, RTW, accessories. If it’s Chanel, I have to look. Yes, it’s worse than a train wreck. I rationalize the time spent at this forum as research. No fashionista can do too little research! And truth be told, it’s eye candy that stimulates my brain while I’m sleepwalking through conference calls in my day gig. Did I just say that out loud?

What spurs me to write about the above bag, however, is the fact that it stopped me dead in my tracks as soon as I saw its photograph. And I usually pass on all things girly girl.  But the color is delicious, especially on that buttery lambskin. The limited edition Valentine charms on the classic chain are just trop adorables! Go with me on this: I see myself in a voluminous, pale blue linen sundress, a pair of camellia sandals on my feet, and a silk scarf around my neck. I’m having a good hair day as I sit on the back of a vespa (cue the wind machine), zipping through Ibiza on my way to meet Uncle Karl for a late lunch. You can see this sweet little purse dangling on my shoulder, can’t you? Ok, first of all, I know I need to stop talking about Karl Lagerfeld like I’m some kind of a stalker. Like I know him or something. This is already his third mention in my two-months-old blog, but it’s impossible to talk about Chanel without referencing the man responsible for turning this couture house into an 800-pound gorilla that toys with our affection, even in these economic times. And second of all, I need to stop with these scenarios that run through my head every time a bag catches my fancy. You’ve seen my travel pictures. Is it really realistic that I’d bring such a high maintenance bag on one of my many adventures?

OK, so where was I? Right, we were in Ibiza on a sunny day. The problem with this whole fantasy sequence is that I see my own face and the voice in my head gasps; it’s asking me if the bag is age appropriate! Since when did I become the age police? Sure, fashion police is fine, but age police? I rewind the tape in my mind and look again. And yep, I’m sure I’d look pretty ridiculous carrying a bag that’s more suitable for someone half my age. Does fashion have an expiration date? Let me rephrase that: do I have an expiration date when it comes to what I should not wear? Aging is not my strong suit, and I feel faint.

Living in LA is a lot like living in a trompe-l’oeil. You will often see a scantily-clad, hot body with bleached hair, but as soon as she turns around you may see an overly Botoxed sixtysomething living in denial of the reflection in her mirror. If I’m glib in writing that, it’s because I, too, can fall just as easily into that sand trap. We are youth obsessed in this town, and if we pretend not to see the inevitable signs of aging, we can be 19 forever. In our own minds anyway. But am I being anti-feminist if I don’t cheer her on to fight society and dress as she pleases? Do I cringe in equal amounts if I see a man dressing much too young for his age?  Though I’m not sure what qualifies as dressing overly youthful for men…are we talking about skinny jeans here? But isn’t fashion about dressing as one pleases? It’s one of the few pleasures left in life that won’t cause cancer…right?

I always shudder when I see the editorials in fashion magazines that recommend what’s appropriate to wear in your twenties, thirties, forties, etc. I just have a problem with age setting a limit on fashion because for some of us, by the time we can afford designer garb, we are already outside of those demographics. And setting an expiration date on some looks smacks too much of censorship.  I want to say fashion should empower us; we should apply only one rule in fashion: live and let live.  But in spite of my love for the freedom of expression, I think sometimes it’s OK for me to listen to the voice inside my head to assess the damage from Mother Nature and cut my losses. And dress appropriately.  So as much as I’d love to collect this lovely bag, it’s past my expiration date.

Having said all that, let’s look closely at the charms, shall we?

Do you see the one that says Bonne Chance (“good luck”)? As in good luck finding this bag. Good luck trying to baby a light colored lambskin bag. Good luck trying to un-snag the charms from your clothes. Good luck making up a million more excuses to not love this bag.  Good luck getting this bag out of my head. Sigh.

Comments 2

  1. eileen

    I love this entry!! Witty and so true of many of us. But I feel you have “preserved” yourself well…lol…thanks to good genes and a disciplined diet and lifestyle. Great job L, you are an inspiration!

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