A couple of days, and bottles of bubbly (who am I kidding? Cava.) later, my parents offered me an exam results present. They said they'd be happier to buy me a laptop for uni, but if I wanted a handbag instead, they'd be okay with that. They know me so well. My age-old fashion obsession got the better of me and I ended up shunning John Lewis' electrical department and marched straight to Mulberry on Multrees Walk to stroke numerous Alexa's before plumping for a luscious 'Sparkle Tweed' number in a delicate powder pink. I've never been more ecstatic to be toting around a carrier bag than my big, plum Mulberry one with a mask-shaped glittery label hanging from the ribbon. I felt rather glamourous, really, like a little girl dressing up as a posh lady.
When Alexa's first outing came, paired with a black jumpsuit and a pale pink blazer for a family dinner, I felt so proud to be carrying this stunning handbag (if a little bit scared of anything even remotely dirty). I loved it... Until I started to feel a little bit guilty at having spent so much on a handbag... I stressed about it so much that I hardly used it, until that fateful day with the jeans.
I decided to take my handbag shopping with me one day, and slipped into a pair of brand new premium *cough* Primark jeans and a pretty blouse. After lugging around various shopping bags, I settled myself down in Pret for a quick cup of coffee. When I looked to my bag I felt a surge of panic rush through me. The pretty glistening effect on the leather had gone a sludgy, inky colour after rubbing off on my cheap denim and I genuinely felt like crying! My dad would go absolutely mental... And i'd be sans- Alexa. I don't know which is worse?
Anyway, we managed to work out a way to get our money back as Mulberry hadn't actually specified how flaming delicate the leather was (they probably thought nobody would be stupid enough to pair a luxury bag with bargain basement denim- well, there's a first for everything!) and a few months later I opted for a celebratory laptop instead... Probably a better investment in the long run.
What brought this story on, your probably wondering. Well, me and my mum were discussing exam results and we got onto this tragedy of 2010. She then said "I know it sounds silly, but how much enjoyment can you really get from a handbag, seriously?"
Listen and learn Fran, listen and learn.
While most people look at a handbag and see an accessory, for someone as obsessed with fashion as me, it can be a little bit more. The majority of the appeal for me is the credibility that comes with toting around a beautiful handbag. Everyone thinks you must be rich, or famous, or important... even if you're not! Whether it's the seasons latest it bag or the be-all-and-end-all of arm candy that goes by the name Birkin, a luxurious handbag can scream "style".
Even if your outfit consists of a shaggy jumper and leggings, a beautifully supple handbag pulls everything together with a little bit of polish. It's often something women buy to treat themselves, a decadence that we need at times, and what could be nicer than carrying around a token of your achievement than a glossy leather handbag that gets gaggles of younger girls ooh-ing and aah-ing.
However, i'm not going to pretend that forking out £500 (at the dirt-cheap end of the luxury market) and upwards on a single garment isn't trivial. It is, obviously, and you just need to look at the world around you to feel more than a little selfish for spending so much on an inessential status-symbol. But that could be said of anything... of cars, of houses, of jewellery... so what makes it worse if it's a handbag?
I'm not saying that a handbag would make me infinitely happy. It wouldn't (unless you're talking about a Chanel 2.55 one... that's a distinct possibility) and it's not exactly the most useful thing in the world (the practicality of a laptop vs. a Mulberry is not tricky to work out). But it would make me happy in the same way that a Double Decker does (i'm so un-fashiony) or that a compliment on my outfit does. It is tricky to explain, but the best way to put it- keeping it short and sweet- is that it chirps you up.
While i'm confident I made the right choice plumping for le laptop, it has brought me hours of misery and boredom in the form of the useless Facebook, something a handbag wouldn't dream of. So, while the secret of eternal happiness may reach beyond the accessories department of Harvey Nichols, the joy of a handbag can not be denied.