Lea Wait, here. Not usually your style correspondent.
Admittedly, those of us who live in Maine have our own definition of style. I’m not the first on this blog to have mentioned the fashion gurus at LL Bean. And, personally, I’d never give up my sweat pants, flannel shirts, fleece-lined slippers, trifocal glasses, and other writerly fashion accessories.
But while I was reading the Sunday New York Times (a girl must keep in touch) December 11, II realized that, without even knowing it, I’d also acquired a number of the new status accessories — cloth totes.
In fact, as a result of attending a number of mystery conferences and book fairs I have a wonderful collection of these tote bags which, to quote the Times, are “the ideal carryall for these post-luxury recessionary times,. The tote’s status is stealth. It telegraphs not money, but access, ethics, culture – encapsulating the idea psychologist Daniel Gilbert popularized that happiness grows more through experiences than purchases.”
And I thought they were just good to cart books and manuscripts around in, and hold extra knitting needles. Clearly, this is why I need to read the Times.
It seems many fashion conscious women in New York City are now leaving their Gucci bags behind and carrying cotton totes instead. (Some women even wash them before using them, for the “crinkly, anti-polished” look.) The tote, to be appropriate, must, in addition to being capable of holding objects, “be useful for quickly deciphering social strata.” Screen-printed covers of high-brow books (in limited editions — the bags, not the books) qualify. Bags from expensive private schools qualify, as do those from art galleries, environmental foundations, and literary magazines.
So … why not mystery conferences? Book fairs?
I can make this work! I’ve been carrying a lovely leather pocketbook made for me by Narragansett Leathers (http://www.narragansettleathers.com) in Damariscotta designed by my husband to hold a paperback and his wallet, as well as a few promotional bookmarks, my notebook, pens, and, oh yes, a wallet and checkbook. But it’s getting a bit worn. How silly of me to have considered saving for a new one. I have so many stylish alternatives just waiting their turn!
I think … a Crime Bake bag should see my nicely through the spring. Black and red are classic colors. It will hold more than a paperback, and the bag itself it certainly a limited edition. High brow? Literary? Obviously. And it’ll double as a conversation piece. How many other people at the post office will have hand-cuffed lobsters on their totes?
Fifth Avenue (York, Maine,) here I come!