The latest edition of People Style Watch arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and as always, I had it fully devoured cover to cover within the ten minutes it took me to carry it from the mailbox to my kitchen counter. That magazine is like a bible to me, and when it arrives, it doesn’t matter what I’m in the middle of (ok, maybe with the exception of one of my children bleeding to death), it get’s put on hold so that I can update myself on all the latest trends, who’s wearing them and where I can get them “guilt free” (I wish spending money was guilt free!). The editions marking new seasons ARE THE BEST; this March edition was no exception. I was in the middle of memorizing the top 10 spring fashion trends and carefully prioritizing them in my head when I flipped the page and the article hit me. It was like rounding the corner at the grocery store and running into your first love, the one you haven’t seen in 20 years – remember that song “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg – “….met my old lover at the grocery store, the snow was falling Christmas eve, I strolled behind in the frozen foods and I touched her on the sleeve…”, Yes, I had one of those Dan Fogelberg – make your heart skip a beat – moments when I saw the article below:
If you are in your forties or even your thirties, I’m sure you remember these purses. You know, the ones that solidified Coach as a brand. The ones that Coach so aptly says in their latest marketing campaign were “investment pieces that inspired the loyal following of fashion editors, rising professionals, and “it” girls…” (I’d like to say I fell into both the rising professional and the “it” girl categories, but I’m sure my girlfriends would tell you I was definitely no “it” girl back then or now; but who cares, I still like the “idea” of it!). At any rate, seeing that black “Willis” bag on Selma’s arm made my heart ache because I can still remember how I came to own my first Coach purse.
The year was 1992. I was a young professional working in accounting. I had just met my soon to be husband six months prior. We had come back to his place after a night out when he presented me with a large heavy box. “I bought you a little something for our six month anniversary,” he said blushing. Removing the wrapping, I saw the words “COACH” on the box and inside, underneath a sea of tissue paper, I found, not the small inexpensive version, but the large black – cost half my weekly paycheck at the time – Willis bag.
You don’t know how I had longed for that purse! I had envied it on the shoulder of every women in the street and had visited it at the Coach store every time I went to the mall. Owning a Coach purse had definitely become a status symbol. It told the world “you had made it”. And as a young professional, I wanted that feeling. However, still trying to get on my feet financially after college, I couldn’t pull the trigger on an expensive designer purse. Overwhelmed that my new beau had presented me with this expensive and thoughtful gift, I knew right there and then that man and that bag would forever have a place in my heart.
I think I wore that bag exclusively for at least three years. It traveled with me six months later when I decided to move from Appleton, Wisconsin to Chicago to be closer to Dave. It made the move to our first apartment after we were married. It hung (and collected dust) in the closet of our first home and it stayed with me through the births of all of our three children. It was battered and torn looking, but the thick buttery leather was still fully in tact and the memories of a courtship and the man who stole my heart were all still there.
I remember the day distinctly; it was only two short years ago. We had just remodeled our master closet and I was putting all my collectibles (my clothing and accessories are a collection you see) very carefully in their places when I came upon my cherished Coach purse. I remember holding the purse in my hand, thinking of all the memories it held, and how I had loved that purse. However, truth be told, I had not carried the purse in close to a decade and I had definitely far exceeded “the one year rule” you’re to follow when considering whether to keep or discard an item in your closet. I was in the middle of debating with myself over the purse when I remembered a fundraiser I had heard about a week earlier sponsored by my local Mothers and More chapter called “The Power of the Purse”. They were collecting gently used purses for women in need. That was it, I decided, I would donate my the purse to The Power of the Purse. Closing anything chapter of my life, I took a deep breath and wrapped the purse in some tissue and placed it gingerly in a bag. I knew if I reconsidered even for one moment, I might put the coveted purse right back into my closet.
Reminiscing about that purse and seeing the article in Style Watch about how Coach has brought back the Classics, brings a tear to my eye. There was definitely power in that purse, and I can only hope it’s inspiring and uplifting the woman whose arm it’s on now as much as it did me. Now that Coach has brought back the Willis bag, it’s good to know that I could always go pick up another one, but it just wouldn’t be the same.
Do you still have your first Coach purse? Did you buy it yourself or did someone give it to you? What memories does it hold for you? Please leave your comments. I’d love to hear your stories!