Reader A has a great question about dressing better than her boss — specifically, she wonders, must she carry a lower-end bag than what her boss carries, or would a work-appropriate designer bag be OK? Here’s her question:
I know the blog has discussed before if it’s appropriate for younger folks to have designer items in the office. Mine is similar… basically, do I have to stick to brands below what my boss has? It’s an ad agency. I’m in management, she’s VP. She makes double what I do. She carries a Kate Spade tote and lower-end Coach purse and acts ashamed of spending so much if anyone compliments her bags. Does that make it inappropriate or unwise for me to carry similar?
Back to Reader A: Kate Spade and lower end Coach are in different ballparks than a Birkin. (In fact, I put them in tier 2 and 3 of our last discussion on how to upgrade your handbag collection.) When you’re starting to build your working wardrobe I think it’s a great idea to spend a bit of money on a bag that’s going to be durable and is exactly what you want. I think it’s a bad idea to purposely buy a cheap bag just so you don’t upstage your boss — you’ll need a new one in a few months, to say nothing of the ethical considerations of buying fast fashion. Don’t go into debt for a bag — and know your office (a diamond-encrusted Birkin is probably not appropriate for any office), but in general: buy what you want and don’t worry about it. If your boss specifically asks about it, you may want to brush it off with a comment like “thanks, I’d been saving for it for a while!” or “it was a killer sale!” — but even that is unnecessary.
Readers, what are your thoughts on designer bags and younger workers — what do you think of as work-appropriate designer bags? Would you advise someone against dressing better than your boss?