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It’s not just a purse—it’s an investment

You know, if I had any money, I'd probably be investing it in something. I'm not sure what, but I hear real estate is always good. And my dad insists on the prospects of the stock market.

Some, however, choose to invest in other things. Tangible objects.

These days, whenever a friend makes a weighty splurge on a luxury item, she justifies it by referring to it as an "investment." Some things, sometimes, are understandable. Maybe a black-wool peacoat worth a few hundred that has a timeless cut, or even some good jeans (though I must say Levi's hold up pretty well for $39.99) or dress slacks. A universal pair of black stilettos. Flattering designer eyeglasses. A tailored suit.

And while I hanker after some of the $1,000-plus purses dangling from the thin wrists of lithe trust-funders, I'd also like to think that even if I didn't have any debilitating student loans, didn't rent and were married to an investment banker (and, uh, wasn't a writer), I still wouldn't succumb to the fashion houses' dictations of the next "It" handbag.

And you shouldn't, either.

I don't care how much money you have, "It" bags are pretty much temporary time-bomb trash. Even if you manage to stay ahead of the curve, you've got three months at best before the wait lists shorten and all your friends have it, too. Another six months, and knockoffs will dominate mall kiosks everywhere.

"It" bags aside, there are handbags like Louis Vuitton's Speedy (pictured here, the Speedy 25) or Chanel's gorgeous, classic, quilted wonderment of beauty (complete with woven leather chain strap!), the 2.55, that have withstood the test of time. Sounds outlandish, right? But the persistence of the Louis Vuitton monogram print or Chanel's quilts is hard to deny—both my mother and grandmother carried Louis Vuitton and Chanel (too bad they didn't keep any of it around), and they still do. Chanel's single-flap 2.55 debuted more than 50 years ago, and it's still as trendy and stylish as it was back then. Grandmothers can carry it, but so can the Olsen twins or any other barely legal billionaire. It looks as good with an old T-shirt, cardigan and jeans as it does with a St. John woven dress suit.

The problem? The medium-sized 2.55 comes in at about $1,595, and the price only increases as the years go by. The Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 was around $500 two years ago—six years ago, it would've set you back $300. Just a week ago, a friend paid $640 with tax for hers. While she also says it's an investment, she thinks the bags—made of coated canvas (not leather!)—are durable and only mature her look now that she's working in the real world.

Popularity and mass counterfeiting get in the way of her argument, but it's true she'll be toting that Speedy around for a good while. At least until she gets tired of it.

 
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