+ Look for Less

10th Commandment: February 6

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, fashion is a trickle down business.  You wait for the best, coolest pieces to be copied (knocked-off is such an ugly phrase) two or three or four times until a version of what you want enters your price range.  But in the case of some items, it can take years, and even then, you may not find a piece in the intern price point.

Elected Official

Celine Luggage Tote

(Bergdorf Goodman, Kirna Zabete et al., depending on the size and seller, $2,000-$3,000, but be prepared to get on a waiting list and pre-pay for the privilege. Celine is the new Birkin.)

Very Well Paid Lobbyist

3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli Satchel (Barney’s, $895)

Hill Staffer

Tillary Tote (J.Crew, $348)



  1. eb says:

    Ok, say you're a hill staffer – say a House LA and you're making mid40s – should you really be dropping 300 bucks on a hand bag? Is that smart financial management??

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. Belle says:

    eb: Well, that depends on the individual. If you put money away, have few debts and can make your essential payments each month, then you can buy whatever you can afford. It also depends on how often you plan to carry it. I dropped $325 on a MAB bag when I was on the Hill. I felt the pinch for a month or two, but I still have the bag and it's still a favorite.

    Sure, there are Hill Staffers with debts or with families or with individual circumstances that might make it hard…but I'm not forcing anyone to buy it. I'm just showing them a more affordable version of something unaffordable. Please don't take the titles of the price points so seriously. They're not meant to be taken so literally.

    Plus it's JCREW, so odds are it will be on sale sometime in the next 30-90 days.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  3. E says:

    I'm actually pretty offended by the J.Crew BLATANT copy of the Celine bag. I can't afford either, so it's not like I'm personally pissed, but it is SO LAME that J.Crew can LITERALLY sell a knock-off at such an exorbitant price point.

    They should be sued for copyright infringement, but of course, we all know how THAT works in the fashion industry.

    UGH! Sorry, rant! But I do love the original Celine, so gorgeous.

    February 6, 2012/Reply
  4. DB says:

    I was just looking at handbags. There's one that's been floating around that I'm absolutely sure that I cannot afford, and I've been looking for copies of it. Do you know of any good alternatives to Tory Burch? (I'm with you, I can't stand the flashy medallion on EVERYTHING!)

    February 6, 2012/Reply
  5. Tel says:

    That Celine bag, in taupe, is my dream bag. It's stunning: well-made, structured, classic, and large enough to hold anything. It's all over the fashion blogs, and seems to dress up every outfit imaginable. But that price tag…

    February 6, 2012/Reply
  6. Belle says:

    E: I think the idea that fashion can or should be copyrighted is a joke. With the exception of personally designed fabric prints and the fakes sold on street corners, once you say that any copy is a crime, we down here in the lower price points will end up with the dregs while the wealthy horde gorgeous fashions. So unless you put the Celine tag on a non-Celine bag, I don't think you've done anything wrong.

    February 6, 2012/Reply
  7. VA says:

    I have mixed feelings about fashion “copyright” – like, who gets dibs on skinny jeans? Or the white button down? The leather top-handle tote? What takes something from the “public domain” of fashion into copyright-exclusive territory? Obviously it's wrong to put a designer label on a canny knockoff, but it seems like there's a big gray area there in the middle.

    February 6, 2012/Reply
  8. LawLala says:

    The category change to “very well paid lobbyist” gave me a chuckle.
    Even is none of them are in my price range, at least I got a smile on my face.

    February 6, 2012/Reply
  9. LawLala says:

    Ahhh, can't type this morning!

    February 6, 2012/Reply
  10. Helena says:

    I'm with you on the copyright issue, Belle. I don't think you're paying for the design when you buy a luxury fashion item, anyway– you're paying for the workmanship and the materials.

    February 6, 2012/Reply
  11. E says:

    I agree that it's impossible to copyright fashion, but I think it angers me more when it's J.Crew selling a copy of a designer brand for a ridiculous price instead of, let's say, Target or Forever 21 selling a similar version for a cheaper price, which would indicate a mass appeal for the product…

    I think it speaks negatively to the integrity of J.Crew as a “mass-retailer.” Do love the store and most of their products though, so I hope my criticism comes off as constructive.

    February 6, 2012/Reply
  12. Heatheresq says:

    Am I the only one that doesn't think the J.Crew bag looks like the Celine bag? In fact Phillip Lim's looks more akin. The colors may be the same, but shape et al don't resemble each other at all, IMHO.

    February 6, 2012/Reply
  13. Ellie says:

    Ladies wanting something slightly less expensive, I got this bag from Cole Haan in the pink, but they also have it in blue and on sale for under $200!

    February 6, 2012/Reply
  14. J says:

    They don't look particularly alike in the pictures above but the flap out to the side is a definitely recognizable Celine “trademark” so to speak. It's the new thing it seems, Reed Krakoff bags have a similar shape too.

    February 7, 2012/Reply
  15. Belle says:

    J: I just don't think you can trademark a flap, but I get what you're saying.

    February 7, 2012/Reply
  16. Alex says:

    I decide how much to pay on a price per wear basis. As a rule, over the years the more expensive leather goods, bags and shoes have worked out cheaper over time. Not always but usually. They go in an out of fashion, so never throw a bag or pair of shoes away. Light blouses and dark straight skirts are also worth paying money for. They'll get worn with a million different outfits.

    Yes, depending on what you do for a living, it is smart financial management to spend money on clothes. You are more credible if you look the part. It makes work easier.

    February 7, 2012/Reply
  17. XR says:

    I was at the Nordstrom in Tysons Corner a few weeks ago, and they had a couple Celine Luggage bags that sold pretty quickly. I was chatting with the saleswoman and she said that like many other French brands, Celine had just raised their prices 10-15%. A Luggage bag that was about $2300 a few weeks ago is now over $2800. What struck me though was that compared to just a couple years ago, the quality of their bags has noticably gone down. The leather used now isnt as supple and buttery as they used to be, and the bag linings used to be more luxurious. I could never afford the bag to begin with, but it does seem a bit irritating when companies raise their prices and don't maintain the quality of the product that made them popular to begin with. They're still gorgeous, but I think it's evidence or a growing trend among popular brands to dilute quality and thinking consumers wont notice. I get that materials and costs assosiated with manufacturing go up, but cutting corners and raising prices at the expense of quality is super annoying.

    Sorry for the rant, but places I used to love like Banana Republic and J.Crew have been pissing me off lately with crappy fabrics and buttons.

    Yay for consignment and vintage!

    February 7, 2012/Reply
  18. Tel says:

    @XR: That's a shame about the Celine bags. I, too, remember when Banana Republic had beautiful, well-made clothes. Now, it's relatively rare that I like BR's style, and the quality is always lacking.

    February 7, 2012/Reply