The Filson Tote
Handsome, water-resistant, and sporty–with ample space for your binoculars, bullets, and Kiehl’s sunscreen–Filson’s totes and field bags represent the paragon of utility and function when hunting, shooting and fly-fishing. But let’s be honest now. We’re at Princeton…is there any real reason to carry around a Filson bag? Is there some member-only hunting moor behind Cottage? Didn’t think so. Then why do so many Princeton ladies carry around Filson bags? Because Filson bags seem to project an image of health and preppy athleticism. Done in rugged twill and aged leather, Filson’s bags evoke georgic images of driving a vintage Range Rover through Wyoming wilderness to grouse hunt and fly-fish at your family’s Jackson Hole haunt. The girl who wields a Fil- son bag wants the world to know that somehow, underneath her Tibi-Tory Burch-Ralph Lauren exterior, she shops at Or- vis and Cabela’s and is somewhat connected to the earth…be it in reality or solely in fantasy.
The Louis Vuitton Neverfull
As a kid, I always thought that the Louis Vuitton Neverfull was the weird storage unit that the mothers of my Per- sian friends used to carry their Pomeranians and miniature poodles. Because of this, I developed a mental correlation between middle-aged Persian women and the Neverfull. Then, I come to Princeton, and the Turkish girl in my hallway carries one, furthering cementing my mental image of the Neverfull as the preferred handbag of wealthy Middle Easterners.
The Goyard St. Louis PM
There is a certain je ne sais quoi about a girl who wields a Goyard tote, or at least she certainly hopes that you think there is. I’m not quite sure whether the je ne sais quois comes from the mystifying powers of Goyard’s obscure tesselation- like print, or from wondering why in the world the girl spent $1040 on an unlined canvas sack with straps that look like they’d break at any given moment. The Goyard’s shape and material recall that of the Louis Vuitton Neverfull…so much so that I once heard a woman remark, about a friend’s, “Why that girl be wearin’ a bootleg Lewy V.” Perhaps that’s the appeal: Goyard’s obscurity and price premium over more conventional Louis Vuitton bags bring it quiet cachet. Sure a Goyard toter can carry a Louis Vuitton bag, but she’s likely such a self-perceived bastion of good taste that she considers the Louis Vuitton monogram too prole, too plebeian, too pedestrian.
The Longchamp Pliage
Nylon with a cavernous interior and easily collapsible, Lon- champ’s Le Pliage is utility at its finest, and because of this, is perhaps the most commonly seen bag on campus. Freshman year, I remember hearing an acquaintance of mine say that she wanted one really badly so that she could be preppier and fit in with other Princeton girls. Of course, when every Princ- eton girl thinks this, everyone ends up owning one, or two, or three. For some girls, the Pliage is the item that brings them one step closer to living their dream of being a teen- age girl living on the Upper East Side and going to school at the Constance Billard School for Girls (I don’t watch Gossip Girl, I swear). While it seems like some–particularly those upwardly mobile–treat the Pliage as as a symbol of some nebulous concept of a lifestyle that they aspire toward, others treat it as a large, durable tote that can fit all the accoutre- ments of college life. Essentially, it is whatever: a whatever, large black hole where you put stuff…lots of stuff.
The Monogrammed L.L. Bean Backpack
There’s something creepily Lolita-esque and gamine about a girl whose bag of choice is more appropriate for third grader. Is it because she still thinks she’s in third grade and needs her name on her back to remember it’s hers? Probably.
The Vineyard Vines Tote
The Vineyard Vines tote, along with the Pliage, is the most commonly seen bag on campus. Because of that, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact stereotype for the girl who carries the Vineyard Vines tote. My friend insists that girls use Vineyard Vines totes to suggest that they are part of a lifestyle cen- tered around living in Connecticut and summering on the namesake Vineyard, but I did not find it compelling. Because standard Vineyard Vines totes are always attached to orga- nizations–be it Pi Phi, the sailing team or the class of 2014,
I think they’re merely a good vehicle for discreetly touting campus affiliations. Because of that, another friend argued that Vineyard Vines toting girls are so insecure, that they feel the need to let everyone know their affiliation. Whether or not that’s the case, I’m not convinced either.
The Vera Bradley Tote
With prints evocative of the vomit resulting from a week- long binge of only consuming Skittles, Starbursts, orange juice and Kool-Aid vodka, Vera Bradley bags are another item seen commonly around campus, most often in the form of prox wallets. Prox wallets are one thing, but even Fargo Lady’s Wear Monthly would have a hard time deeming a full set of matching Vera Bradley bags and luggage “chic.” Yet one parochial Princeton girl I know seems to think that a full Vera Bradley luggage set represents the pinnacle of style. You know, the kind of girl who hails from a declining Midwestern city, but blabs nonstop about how it’s comparable to New York City, and how great its culture is, and how stylish she is because she has a seven piece Vera Bradley luggage set blah blah blah? But who is she kidding? Vera Bradley luggage sets are only appropriate for two demographics: middle school girls (the kind who decorate their lockers with locker chan- deliers and locker wallpaper and lime green locker carpeting) and adorable old ladies.
The Feed Bag
The Feed Bag is part of a project started by Princeton alum and former Ivy Club member Lauren Bush Lauren, the niece of George W and daughter-in-law of Ralph Lauren. Feed promises to feed one malnourished child for an entire year, from the proceeds for each sold bag. While the purpose seems noble, all of the Feed Bag-toting girls I’ve encoun- tered have been very self-righteous about their bags. You know the type who let’s everyone know “Like I can totally be carrying a Coach bag but like they’re made out of unsus- tainable leather and like I want to feed orphans and stuff.”