Do or don’t: wearing distinctive designers at a conservative office

A few months ago, I received this message from a reader:

“I would greatly appreciate your advice on whether you think it is appropriate to wear designer pieces to a conservative corporate office. I, too, love and own a few Chanels and Loubs, but I am a little hesitant to wear them to my office because they are so readily identifiable. My office consists of mostly women, and I would hate to be the target of any catty remarks.” – MCL

This is a question that I’ve thought about many times myself. As much as I enjoy wearing certain designer pieces, the last thing I want to do is appear inappropriate or showy at work. Although I have photographed Chanel bags with work outfits on here, the truth is I do not tote them to the office (and admitted so here). At my current job, I keep mainly Ann Taylor pumps at my desk, but do sport the occasional Louboutins with other nondescript pieces.
designer_at_the_office copy

Images from these posts: left / right

The answer to MCL’s question is subjective and dependent on your own office environment, as well as where you are in your career. But here are some factors that I’ve considered over the years:

1. How “showy” are the designer items and how do they fit with your overall look?
In my opinion, recognizable all-over logo print, large logos, and Louboutin heels with their bright red soles are showier because onlookers can’t miss that it’s an expensive item. The higher the associated price range (as with Chanel), the more ostentatious the item can be in the wrong setting. In a truly conservative business environment, I would avoid the aforementioned things unless you’re at the top of the corporate ladder.

How you integrate designer items with your daily look also matters. I feel that if you consistently look put-together and tastefully-dressed, then designer items that complement that image will draw less attention than if the items themselves are the “centerpieces” of your outfits.

2. Is your office hierarchy flat or structured? What are your superiors’ attitudes toward designer items?
In a structured office hierarchy, I would suggest being very careful to avoid looking like you’re trying to upstage any superiors. This is especially important to consider with women, who may be more sensitive to such things. If your organizational structure is flatter and the atmosphere is more casual, I would feel out the environment by gauging clues on what is appropriate. For example:

– Do your superiors enjoy wearing designer items, or do they balk at the price tags as being wasteful?
– Do you and your superiors chat congenially about latest purchases or where to shop?

Working in client service, I view the client like a superior and exercise an even higher level of care/caution. I avoid showing up at a client donning any readily-identifiable high-end items, without first understanding their business environment or their personality. Needless to say, this is even more important at client meetings where sales or fee negotiations are taking place.

3. How much do other people’s perceptions matter to you?
I often smile remembering an intern who showed up on his first day with an $8k watch and received a healthy dose of teasing. This reader’s question mentioned catty remarks…if you care about such things, then it is safer to dress within your level. Most people in peer roles (and of course, superiors) will know the going salary rates and could be quick to form judgments if someone dresses conspicuously above others at the same level. They could speculate that someone is drowning in credit card debt or has a sugar daddy/parent, which could be far from the truth. The perceived boundaries of your level, however, could vary greatly based on office culture – in a fashion-conscious, urban workplace, wearing Louboutins could be common for junior-level employees…whereas it could easily garner gossip and raised eyebrows elsewhere.

In the end, there will always be people who wear whatever they want with confidence because they don’t care about what others think. And those who’ve made it to the top have the luxury of doing so. For those who are not there yet, even small wardrobe choices can play a real role in workplace perceptions and possibly distract from one’s professional performance.

Readers – What are your thoughts on and experiences with this topic? Do you wear “readily-identifiable” designers to work?
When you purchase through the links on this blog, I may earn a commission. Thank you for your support!

When you purchase through the links on this blog, I may earn a commission. Thank you for your support!

For Daily Posts

Leave a Comment

111 Comments

  1. To dinner, out on the weekends, parties, etc. I use my black caviar ones at least 1-2x each week.

    Posted 9.8.12 Reply
  2. Thank you for the heads up! Unfortunately, so many of them do now and there is really no recourse for owners of the photos.

    Posted 9.8.12 Reply
  3. Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I agree wholeheartedly that what we wear and carry (and how we carry ourselves) are reflections of our taste and personality – and all of that rolls up into how we're viewed in the workplace.

    Posted 9.8.12 Reply
  4. To be safe, I would leave them at home. And that's coming from a lover of short shorts!

    Posted 9.8.12 Reply
  5. Hi there – mine is from Michael's craft stores. I went in and asked for their leather puncher. The ones available for sale on Amazon look very similar.

    Posted 9.8.12 Reply
  6. Definitely agree that men do the same, except with cars!

    Posted 9.8.12 Reply
  7. Hi there – Personally I think it's acceptable and I carry mine to work sometimes. The logo plate is very small and you can even turn it around to face you if you're concerned. The fact that people have complimented it having no idea what brand it is, and asked where it's from because they like the look, gives me comfort that the design is standing on it's own (versus the logo).

    Posted 9.8.12 Reply
  8. Yes, I used to be asked my age all the time, but never do now. It could be because my face has aged, but I'd like to think it's due to me paying more attention to small things that make a difference in appearance and "presence." I wrote two old posts on this as well:

    http://www.extrapetite.com/2010/05/reader-request-how-to-look-older-in.html

    http://www.extrapetite.com/2011/02/reader-request-building-confidence.html

    Posted 9.8.12 Reply
  9. Anonymous wrote:

    I suggest you should save up first and then buy the bag when you've met your goal. You should never start saving up after the purchase… It's like buying one size smaller jeans and then try to lose your weight. It will work some cases but in most cases it won't work.

    Try to spend on the necesserities only though it'd be sometimes hard to make difference between what you really want and what you really need. If you really want that bag then you should focus your lust solely on it.

    Posted 9.7.12 Reply
  10. Agreed.

    The only point I don't agree with is NOT respecting women who love them. To each their own.

    I have designer items, but they're mostly secondhand. The only designer item I've purchased at full price was a Burberry winter coat that had a design that wasn't easily replicated anywhere else, including in its quality.

    I don't like logos of any kind (designer or not), and if I buy a designer item, it's for the style and quality, not that it's a designer item.

    I also agree with Sophie that badly dressed women shouldn't be given a free pass with their atrocious outfits just because of the money they splashed on them.

    If it doesn't fit, look good, or look right… it just isn't chic, no matter the pricetag.

    Posted 9.6.12 Reply
  11. I purposefully avoid anything with a logo, but I wouldn't say that I DON'T respect women who love them. To each their own.

    I own a few designer items, most of them secondhand purchases (Hermes, Manolo Blahnik), and they do not have logos or any flashiness splashed all over them.

    The ONE designer item I own that I bought at full price was my Burberry wool trench coat because I just loved the quality, the design, the cashmere loveliness, and I knew I wouldn't be able to settle for a substitute.

    That said, I made sure it wasn't plastered with any kind of Burberry print or logo either.

    I also agree with Sophie's comment about badly dressed women thinking that they can get away with such atrocious outfits because they have an LV on their arms.

    Posted 9.6.12 Reply
  12. katy wrote:

    Heh. I have a different version of the same problem.. When your office can be in the middle of the woods, inside a dam, or in a lab you can't really wear nice clothes. Even my office is very casual. I probably dress the nicest in our section, and I seriously wear jeans and a sweater or maybe a belted knit dress & ballet flats. I own a blazer, but have never felt like I'm in a situation formal enough to wear it… Being young, small, and female means I have to wear my grubbiest jeans, my oldest pair of steel toed boots and rock the side braid and hard hat in order to be taken seriously in the field.

    Posted 9.6.12 Reply
  13. sophié wrote:

    I dont think that short shorts are appropriate or tasteful for anyones family lunch. Unless is a casual garden party or BBQ. And I am not Asian or Muslim – I come from a super liberal caucasian family. If someone wears them – we would not never say anything there and then – but believe me it doesn't look good.

    Posted 9.4.12 Reply
  14. sophié wrote:

    such a great topic – and judging by the number of responses -super popular. I agree with the points you made and so glad I am not alone. I am sick of badly dressed women with expensive logos on them. I live in London and if you visit Harrods or Selfridges those women are taking over. I think a designer item should stand out because of its quality not the blingy logo. (how many then really would be able to appreciate or even see the difference in quality? )

    Posted 9.4.12 Reply
  15. Annabelle wrote:

    I'm of two minds on this: certainly, I don't think it's tactful or wise or good for your career to wear ostentatiously expensive things to work, but I also think that work is a LOT of your time and there's no point in spending money on clothes/accessories if you're not going to wear them. I would probably wear virtually anything I own that was office-appropriate to the office, but the expensive things I own are also not logo-print or otherwise easily identifiable, just really well made. And my offices have all been in very male-dominated fields, and the fact is that most men aren't going to be able to tell regardless.

    Important fashion question, definitely!

    Posted 9.4.12 Reply
  16. Great post and topic, Jean! Brings up some things to consider before breaking out those expensive items. Thanks for the insight!

    A Little Piece of Fashion and Beauty

    Posted 9.4.12 Reply
  17. CynthiaC wrote:

    To me it's not about the designer but really whether a trademark colour/style or logo is very visible. A black Chanel skirt with Prada pumps is fine because they're very subtle compared to, say, Louboutins or even a PS1. And stay away from large logos of any kind because, well, it's tacky.

    Posted 9.3.12 Reply
  18. I agree with Mary Irene, wear what you want as long as it's classy and appropriate to your work environment. Life IS too short to worry about what others think; there is no way you can please everyone so please yourself instead. Also, people have no idea what you spent on any given item…you could be a really savvy shopper who score bargains on eBay or second hand shops. It also depends on how you carry yourself or your reputation at work…if you're one to brag or wear/carry luxury brand items with an air of superiority, then catty-ness will be inevitable. But if you're known to genuinely love fashion, it'll show through and those who truly know you will admire and perhaps be inspired instead of envy you.

    Posted 9.3.12 Reply
  19. Anonymous wrote:

    I'm so glad I recently found your blog! Your posts are so well thought-out and helpful. I actually went back and read through most of your archives in past week or so.

    You mention in some old posts that you used to have a blog about how to afford luxury items. At 25, I've really only had a ~$60k job for the past year (before that I lived abroad and did programs like AmeriCorps) and I've had so much trouble trying to figure out what's "reasonable" in terms of spending. I've read books like "Living the Savvy Life", but I'd love to get more feedback from you since you seem to be very responsible and organized about your finances when it comes to spending.

    I recently found a Mulberry bag ($1200!) I'm absolutely coveting, but on $3400 take-home income, it just doesn't seem to make sense. Think you can do a post about how to rationalize these purchases? Any advice/counsel is welcome!

    Again, I LOVE your blog- so inspirational!

    Posted 9.3.12 Reply
  20. Anonymous wrote:

    "I personally find obvious logos like the Louis Vuitton prints and Chanel to be tacky in almost all situations, although I respect that many women love them."

    I find logos tacky but don't respect that other women love them, although I see it might be too late once a woman reaches her teens or 20s to do much about it. Too much socialization to look pretty and rich by that point. Logos are one of the most unfortunate social signals I know. I understand that a high-quality, beautiful item is worth splurging for, but when it's $2000 for a purse, something more insidious is going on. The question in that case is why ownership of this item (often as a social signal) is more important to someone than sharing the money with others or investing in the future. There's some hard to define cutoff where it's just materialism, and I wonder what the stuff represents and what emotional void it fills.

    I'm a scientist funded by the NIH and NSF, and I work at an Ivy League university in Boston. I will buy low-end designer items (e.g., Coach, Cole Haan) if the logos are inconspicuous, the quality is high, and I know I will be getting a lot of use out of them. I'm paying extra because the items are beautiful. But imagine that, as someone funded entirely off of taxpayer money, I could buy lots and lots of LV and Hermes. It would look pretty crude, just as we consider Imelda Marcos and greedy dictators throughout history as pretty crude. (Of course, I'm not at risk of making that much!) But if you think about it, it doesn't make sense why someone in another profession should necessarily have a different set of moral standards about where his/her money goes… the presence of a double standard suggests there's something about that level of spending that's just not right, no matter who you are.

    Posted 9.3.12 Reply
  21. Anonymous wrote:

    -what do you think about using short shorts at a fiancé's family lunch?

    I just want to say that my brother's fiancé is visiting my family for a month. We're an Asian family (so is she), so we like some modesty in the way we dress. She is young, around 23, so we can deal with it when she wears short shorts. But I really wanted to smack her when she wore short shorts over a teddy to the family dinner. We didn't go out to a restaurant, but that doesn't mean she can dress like that. After dinner, she sat on my brother's lap, in front of the little nieces and nephews.

    To answer your question, cover the top part if you want to wear short shorts, just to balance it out somewhat.

    Posted 9.3.12 Reply
  22. Bella wrote:

    "Martyr Moms"! I love that title. I think the martyr moms have made me the most insecure about just simply being put together. I don't have many designer pieces at all, and actually I don't care about them, but I do spend a lot of time, energy, and money on my appearance. I've gotten catty comments and looks from those ladies. I decided to try and cover up my annoyance/insecurities with the feeling of compassion… because it must be hard to not have a lot of energy for yourself. But at the same time, I'm grateful I do.

    Posted 9.3.12 Reply
  23. Anonymous wrote:

    Great post but where "do" you take your Chanels?

    Posted 9.3.12 Reply
  24. Joy wrote:

    This post was necessary for me and I enjoyed reading it. I love my designer pieces, but I pretty much only carry a designer bag if it is more discrete. Lol my fear is more that my superiors will think they are paying me too much and cut future bonuses or other forms of pay.

    I think a lot of times women want to be able to get enough use out of their more expensive items. When you spend 4 figures on a non-necessity, you want to feel like you are getting your $ worth. What better way to get good use out of your pieces than to carry them to the workplace, since most of us have to show up there about 5 days a week? Unfortunately that's also usually the place where we receive the most judgement. *sighs* I do not live a super glam life, so I guess I'll have to keep searching for other occasions to use distinctive designer pieces. Or to be more practical…prevent myself from buying designer items. =]

    http://shortandsweetjoy.blogspot.com

    Posted 9.3.12 Reply
  25. Anonymous wrote:

    Love reading your blog. Just a heads up, there is an ebay seller using your pictures of you modelling the gratian blazer to seller hers. Seller id brats409.

    Posted 9.3.12 Reply
  26. DJ wrote:

    Hi Jean, thank you so much for the advice on designer clothes. I have a question regarding maxi dresses and wish to hear your opinion. I have tried on several maxi dressed in different stores but never purchased one. Honestly, I love maxi dresses but always feel awkward wearing them since thinking they makes me look shorter and more chubby. So my question is "Being classified as petite, should we wear maxi dresses? If yes, which material, specific style and stylish tips do you suggest? I am looking forward for your response. Love

    Posted 9.2.12 Reply
  27. sophié wrote:

    quote" How you integrate designer items with your daily look also matters. I feel that if you consistently look put-together and tastefully-dressed, then designer items that complement that image will draw less attention than if the items themselves are the "centerpieces" of your outfits.''
    that is the most crucial and often overlooked point! Not just for a conservative office but in general life – far too many of us think that an expensive item or two will upgrade an outfit. Most of the time it just looks ostentatious and tatty if the overall look hasn't been considered. If the clothes don't fit properly, if the deportment is not there, the manners are poor and the tone of voice off – then the designer item just accentuate those bad points rather than cover them up. Whether we like it or not – what we wear sends out a message and is not always the one we think it is.

    Posted 9.2.12 Reply
  28. Alissa wrote:

    As a student I haven't had to worry about this but I will say that when I worked at a law office there was very much a stigma associated with wearing extremely nice items. It didn't even have to be super expensive. It made me sad because I feel like when women are successful we should celebrate that they are able to afford it.

    Posted 9.2.12 Reply
  29. Vicky wrote:

    What a fantastic post, Jean! I just got around to reading it fully and enjoy the comments here as well. I grinned at Mary-Irene's comments about "I seriously took my Chanel classic flap into the office, and they probably thought I got it a Kohls because they just didn't know any better." That's exactly where I'm at. I take my Chanel to work as I wish because I have absolutely no concern that people would notice. I work with a bunch of fantastic engineers (mostly men) who just don't know and don't care. Plus I'm a lot older than you girls and feel more at ease doing whatever I want. This luxury comes with time. Thanks for the post and have a great weekend!

    Posted 9.2.12 Reply
  30. Dear Jean:
    I’m a relative newcomer and huge fan of your blog and love all of your entries. Your latest one is particularly thought-provoking and greatly appreciated. I have read various criticisms regarding the presence of blogs highlighting petites, several of them happening to be run by young Asian women. I myself am a somewhat petite Asian-American woman (I’m 5’2 and in my 40’s now but fortunate to appear very youthful still) who works in a very hierarchical, and until relatively recently patriarchal, professional field. As such, I have dealt for many years with learning how to earn credibility and trust from many individuals including peers as well as superior colleagues, students, trainees and patients. What I can say is that appearance clearly does matter and appearing youthful definitely is a barrier to being taken seriously. In addition, what we wear and carry are of course reflections of our taste and personality. On the other hand, we are all judged by our outward appearance until, over time, our actions and interactions with others demonstrate our true character. I do agree with Mary-Irene and others that if one is able to acquire aspirational items one should enjoy them, but depending on a person’s career path, one really does need to consider the context of his or her workplace, as one can see throughout the various comments. What I really have enjoyed about your blog is that you address this real issue that many Asians and Asian-American women have—our youthful appearance and in many cases culture of respecting authority I think can impact one’s ability to compete successfully with others. Through your blog what I have observed is your honesty, your ability to express a balanced approach to your love of fashion, that you are thoughtful about your purchases, and you are transparent about maintaining a budget. The end result is I feel that a wider audience benefits and, judging from the many comments I’ve read on this and your other posts, that many folks enjoy reading your blog as much as I do. I know you will be very successful in your career (congrats on your exam!) but hope you will continue to maintain your blog—I am hoping to look forward to checking in for a long time to come! Thanks for sharing!!

    Posted 9.2.12 Reply
  31. These are great tips and things to look out for, some I definitely agree but oh well, sometimes we just have to live life the way we want and not care about how others look at us.

    That's my take on this! 😀

    Btw, would you please take some time to check out this new Bloggers Against Social Injustice network where fashion bloggers come together to make this world a better place.

    You can join in the fun by participating in events organized by the Bloggers Against Social Injustice committee & also at the same time spread the words of such good cause.

    Play your part & help those unheard voice be heard. You are just a click away! 🙂

    Website: http://bloggersagainstsocialinjustice.blogspot.com
    Facebook: Click here for our Facebook
    Twitter: Click here for our Twitter

    I hope to see you there! 🙂
    Cassandra
    backtofive.blogspot.com
    Bloggers Against Social Injustice

    Posted 9.2.12 Reply
  32. Sílvia wrote:

    This is such a great post! That's why I love reading your blog: I always can take some advice from it! Speaking about what is appropriate or not, what do you think about using short shorts at a fiancé's family lunch?

    Posted 9.1.12 Reply
  33. Midwestern corporate America is a little funny. I would say that many here do not recognize most high-end designer items (excluding the obvious LV monogram, CCs, GGs, etc.) and you can wear / carry YSL, Hermes, Balenciaga, Chloe and others without fear of looking too show-y. Like with most things, I veer towards the conservative and try not to call attention to myself. I carry a plain black leather Coach bag (no crazy Coach logos) and sometimes wear Burberry scarves or my little H bracelet. Coach is to be expected and no one notices the the scarves or bracelet 🙂

    Posted 9.1.12 Reply
  34. Unknown wrote:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Posted 9.1.12 Reply
  35. Anonymous wrote:

    My everyday bag is a Farragamo nlyon black tote, it is so well made and low profile I felt comfortable not only for work but grocery shopping as welll, so I guess it really depends on bags. I found that when I go on biz travel in Asia I used my designer bags a lot more, maybe they go well with my more formal clothes. Somehow when I am in the US I tried to avoid bags with obvious logos and stay very casual and low key.

    Posted 9.1.12 Reply
  36. Jackie wrote:

    I agree with many of the other comments on both of these points: that you should wear what you love AND you should consider others too. As much as it sucks to be judged on appearance alone, we all do it. And many people (my experience has been that with women mostly) are sensitive to the way other other people dress.

    Taking others' feelings into consideration, I tend to stay away from too many labels. I do have a few, but I tend to not purchase items with big or obvious logos.

    Also, I have found that when I'm wearing something well and that isn't necessarily expensive I get compliments and then I tell them where it came from and they're surprised! I think it helps other women realize that they can wear whatever they like, even if it's a thrift store find!

    The woman makes the clothes look good, not the other way around. 🙂

    Posted 9.1.12 Reply
  37. Anonymous wrote:

    This is why I love my Hermes Trim II. No one notices it. This is also why I appreciate BV. However, I still do carry my Chanels and LVs. When I see others carrying high end labels, I look out of admiration. It's nice to be in the company of others who appreciate beauty.

    Posted 9.1.12 Reply
  38. Tien wrote:

    You know I hadn't really thought about this very much until I read this post. When I see women wearing high end designer accessories at work (I work in a very conservative accounting firm) I usually admired their goodies (irrespective of which level) and admittedly thought – they must be rich or just have good taste but it never made me question their ability within the workplace or made me treat them differently. I think it's a little sad that you can't wear your loved items in fear or being judged although I appreciate the apprehension. I think if you're comfortable doing so you should and everyone should try to keep an open mind and this will hopefully shift the mindsets for future generations.

    http://www.tstyledme.com

    Tien xo

    Posted 9.1.12 Reply
  39. Anonymous wrote:

    People criticize anyone who is different from them or who makes different lifestyle choices.

    Ironically, in my working-class city (i.e., most of the residents aren't upper-class), I've had more people make catty remarks about me while I was wearing my workout clothes than when I was wearing dressier clothes.

    I don't even own a designer item, but one time, a nurse made a subtle, sarcastic "joke" about me in the waiting room, saying to a male patient, "Got your European handbag?" "Yeah," he replied, sardonically; then, they laughed.

    This bothered me. First, because my purse wasn't an expensive European purse- it was only a plain, non-designer black purse that gave the appearance of being expensive (it was given to me as a gift and wasn't entirely made of leather); second, I didn't intend to offend anyone- I only wore it to the clinic because I didn't want to be mistaken for a teenager and be patronized, again. It was the only purse that I owned that made me look like an adult.

    I felt that it was unprofessional for the nurse to make a vicious remark about me, a patient.

    Posted 9.1.12 Reply
  40. Vivian wrote:

    To me, you can wear whatever you want. As long as you're not purposely showing it off to others but just to make you beautifully confident. If a pair of Loubs gives you the boost to stand taller, smile, and feel complete when you're out or even inside the house, then wear them. Wether you're wearing a pair of $1 shorts or $100 heels, it doesn't matter. All that matters is how you feel about yourself when you're wearing these items, and if you're happy if you wear a pair of Loubs, then do so. Because someone beautiful will compliment on how put together you look and not judge you for what luxury you are wearing. It's the complete look that counts! (=

    Posted 9.1.12 Reply
  41. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks for the great post that's provoking this conversation. Though I agree that the way one dresses should depend on the work culture, it's important to recognize the double standards of society will always scrutinize women, whether it is the way they dress or how their bodies are built–regardless of the context of the situation.

    Posted 9.1.12 Reply
  42. Eeyuh wrote:

    This seems to be a bigger issue for women than for men (but I'm sure there are some guys who worry just the same). I was just discussing this with my boyfriend, asking him for advice about what would be appropriate and so forth for the field I'm going into. I'm glad that you discussed this here and though high end designer items are still way beyond my reach, dressing appropriately for the office is a concern that just about everyone has. Again, thanks for posting and I love all the comments from fellow readers!

    Posted 9.1.12 Reply
  43. Carol wrote:

    I'm always very conscious/almost paranoid about not being ostentatious. I think its the way I grew up and how my family is. For example, I don't wear my engagement ring to work (I'm a teacher) and I don't wear my diamond pendant with my diamond stud earrings (I choose one). I just feel like its too much. I almost never wear my Burberry, Tory Burch, or Stella McCartney bags simply because I feel they look too over the top. This might sound kind of crazy, but I feel like people stare/roll their eyes when they see me in designer duds. I think I might have something to do with Chinese culture and tradition of modesty. Not that I'm implying people who wear this stuff are immodest/haughty, I'm just saying this is my own complex, I guess.

    This was a great post, thanks!

    Posted 8.31.12 Reply
  44. Anonymous wrote:

    Hey jean! I love your articles and I went by one about leather hole punchers for belts. Which puncher did you buy? I'm having a tough time deciding and hopefully you could help me. Thanks!

    Posted 8.31.12 Reply
  45. Michelle wrote:

    Love this topic and your advice, Jean! I have actually had this conversation with my in-laws! As a teacher, I do not wear any obvious name brands (exception being a pair of Burberry wedges, because I don't think anyone knows what they are) And bringing a nice purse to work would be dumb on my part, since it just gets shoved in my desk drawer once I get into my classroom. But if there is a get together after school, I will bring a higher-end purse if it matches the best. If anyone says anything, I always revert to "It was a really special gift" to lessen the "omg, what a snob!" thoughts. I do see my purses and jewelry as that, nice gifts that each hold a very special memory. When people collect and show off high-end items just to say they have them, that is tacky. And obviously I know you do not fit into that category. 🙂

    Posted 8.31.12 Reply
  46. Rica wrote:

    Hi Mary-Irene,

    Great point! If it's practical (and fashionable), why not? I think it's important to enjoy life and enjoy the rewards you got for yourself.

    When I see designer items I like in the office, I adore them instead of being jealous or weird about it. To me, it's their life, their money, and they are quite an eye candy (I meant the designer items), so why be catty about it. =)

    Posted 8.31.12 Reply
  47. Rica wrote:

    Hi Jean!

    What an interesting post! It got me think about what my office is like too.

    My office is in the financial district of the country, so it's very common to see designer items around town, and it is the same in my office. From Gucci to Louis Vuitton, from Balenciaga to Prada. The most popular brands would be Coach and Michael Kors because they are on the more affordable side.

    My superiors do carry designer bags but we never really talk about them, or fashion for that matter. Anyhow, one incident that came up to my mind when I read this post is that I got called out one time that I was carry a Miu Miu bow bag. Honestly, it's not the most expensive bag or easily recognized bag, for those who are not that into fashion anyway. It just so happened that my coworker's , who is a guy, girlfriend has the exact same one but in a different colour. The conversation went like this:

    A (male coworker): My girlfriend likes this bag too.
    B (female coworker): Doesn't she has the same bag?
    A: Yes
    B: Isn't it expensive?
    A: (nodding his head)

    First of all, B carries a Prada saffiano leather tote, which is already more expensive than my Miu Miu bow bag. Plus the fact that my brother got it for me in England, which means it's a couple hundreds cheaper than in the U.S. So when she called me out, I felt a little strange. That didn't stop me from carrying my bag because I already got it, might as well use it. But I don't use it every day because I don't quite like that kind of the attention.

    Back to the question: will I wear designer items to work? Yes, but not that often. I only really bring it with me to work when I got somewhere else to go after work. My bosses are male so they wouldn't mind, but half of my coworkers are female, so in order to avoid any gossips, I would try to avoid wearing/carrying the most showy/easily recognized designer items to work.

    Having said that, YSL Cabas Chyc and Christian Louboutins New Simple Pump are still on my list. We work so hard for our money, and if we can afford it and not lose a limb or kidney, then there's no harm in rewarding yourselves once in a while. And I definitely won't ban myself from wearing them when I got mine. Like Jean said, sometimes it really depends on your level on the corporate ladder. People won't be gossiping about the team lead's new Louboutins, but they'll definitely do if it was an intern who's wearing them.

    This comment is getting way too long, so I'm just gonna stop here =)

    x Rica

    Posted 8.31.12 Reply
  48. this is a great post, Jean and a very engaging and interesting discussion from all of your readers. i am kind of split. i am careful with my "big item" purchases, but after taking the plunge, i do want a lot of wear/use to justify the purchase. however, i work in a conservative office and do meet clients. so, in that, i am sensitive to how i dress on the days when i see clients. my colleagues do know that i'm really girly & enjoy designer items. but they, like me, all have their own "thing" whether it's clothing, a house, cars or whatever – we all have our vices. they're of the view that if you worked hard to get what you bought, you should enjoy it but not flaunt it. i think people will judge no matter what, and that can't be helped but there is a time and place for everything and only you can gauge when something is appropriate. thanks again for this post. xox P

    Posted 8.31.12 Reply
  49. Anonymous wrote:

    I carry my Chanel sunglasses in a Coach box to work, because it's my favorite sunglasses. Since the Chanel logo is so tiny on the side, it's not showy. However, I don't want to take out my Chanel box every time I need to use my sunglasses, because everyone would notice. That's why a Coach box seems more mid-level and appropriate.

    Posted 8.31.12 Reply
  50. Anonymous wrote:

    It's kind of funny to think I have kind of a reverse teasing at my office. My coworkers know that I only shop at Goodwill and Amazon since I've started working. At first they thought I shop at Neiman or Saks, and some women did make a remark, but then I told them Goodwill. Now if they see me with new shoes or blouse, they'd ask: Amazon??

    Lucky for me, there are plenty of Goodwill stores in the area with designer things. Lots of colleges around, so the students donate lots of things when school is out. I'm not talking high end designer things like Chanel lining up in the stores, but brands like AT, MaxAzria, Tahari, Splendid, Theory, etc.

    Posted 8.31.12 Reply

Get the newsletter!

What updates would you like?