Privilege Blog

Should The Perfect Wallet Be Stylish?

I can make a fairly serious argument as to why you don’t need a stylish wallet. Consider.

  • Your wallet is usually only out of your bag – we’re talking women here – for a few minutes at a time. Why pay for 6.5 minutes/per day worth of visuals?
  • When you are using your wallet, you are usually paying someone. If that someone doesn‘t have much money, the fact that you do might be sufficient affront. If that someone does have money, they probably want more of yours. No point in signaling there’s anything for the taking.
  • If stuff falls out of your wallet, due to its stylish design, troubles ensue. Ugly troubles, which require communicating with robots over the telephone.

Buying a wallet is the moment for function over form. Case in point. My mother gave me The Cutest Wallet Ever. A birthday present. Chanel. With an adorable little embossed camellia as the decoration? Discrete logo? Oh yeah. Got my girl electrons flying. Set my teeth on edge with desire. But, too small to hold my hordes of cards. You know, the ones that a) entitle you to spend more than you have b) get prizes for when you have spent more than you have c) remind everyone that you are lucky enough to have medical AND dental insurance.

So I returned The Cutest Wallet Ever. And bought this one. Mr. Tod. Brown, pebbled, stitched.

Huge. If it had wheels I could drive it home. Card slots on the scale of Las Vegas. Profound happiness washed over me when I put it into my purse. The anxiety of stuffing cards into too few slots, the annoyance of hunting for said cards, the memory of the damage I did to poor Miss Ferragamo, these defeated the adorable camellia.

Poor Miss Ferragamo

Mr. Tod is cute enough. Soft leather, should last a long time. Travel with me. I’ll get over the camellia. Some day.

31 Responses

  1. "Huge. If it had wheels I could drive it home."

    I think I own its…sister? Brother? Cousin? Whatever; I too have a behemoth of a wallet. And I love it.

  2. truer words, my dear….i have a gorgeous vintage gucci wallet that is nonfunctional at best. stuff falls out of it all. the. time.

  3. That's the kind of wallet I carry too and it's WAY over stuffed and worn out and abused…..but very much loved.

  4. i feel your pain; the discreet camellia is darling!

    i confess that i, erm, don't use a wallet; the outer (outer!) zip pocket of my bag is a jumble of cards, cash, and lipstick. that i have never been pickpocketed could be proof that the universe indulges fools. i do own a wallet, a lovely simple thing that tells the story of a spy cat and a spy beaver; it comes out when i want to impress the gals from the high fashion mags in the cafeteria (and don't have pockets for my ATM card).

  5. I have a very old, very battered, very tired-looking Hermes one, possibly the same size as your Tod's. I need my wallet to be that big. I need the slots and the partitions.

  6. Yes, I chose style over function and it's not working out. Getting items in and out of the wallet without spilling other contents is near impossible. I need a much more practical wallet.

  7. You demonstrate your points with precision! The only question is how long should a wallet be used and abused before we are recommended to change it. And also why is a handbag sometimes also called a pocketbook?

  8. Absolutely with you on this one — mine's not as big as yours, but it's similarly functional. I couldn't do ugly or tacky in the interest of function, but aesthetics have to be of the "form follows function" mode.

  9. Mine is big as a Buick. There is nothing stylish about it but I can retrieve a card, license or dollar bill in a flash. It weighs a ton and sits at the bottom of my handbag like an anchor. My one concession to aesthetics, it's a gorgeous shade of red.

  10. What was once my lovely purple Kate Spade wallet now looks like it should be placed in the paper bag in the garage waiting for 'the truck' to pick it up along with mismatched Tupperware. What can I do? She still serves me well. I cannot abandon her. She still has plenty of life in her. I feel the same way about tired looking plants. I am a nurturer.

  11. I'm not sure I agree that the look of the thing is unimportant. Mine often goes "solo" in my hand when I run quick errands, go out for a casual dinner, etc.

    I must confess to having a wardrobe of wallets. Certainly there is the small one for when I travel and need only ID, two major credit cards, and proof of insurance. Mainly, I do carry a Buick-sized one, but I have the regular (black) one and another in a brighter, more summery color.

  12. I used to carry small, adorable wallets that were completely impractical. My current one is big, pink leather, and has a stitched cherry in the corner – but it's impeccably organized and easy to find things in!

  13. Yeah, my wallet makes my children laugh at me and causes cashiers to stare. But I carry mine, and my kids, worlds within it. I keep trying to downsize but to no avail.
    Now I'll feel a lot better about it, thank you very much!

  14. Do love the cute Camellia Chanel wallet…. but understand if it wasn't practical (sturdy gal et al!) At the moment I have a wonderful wallet that is on my Christmas wish list that is beautifully made, practical and a fun item too – I love it so much that I even wrote about it on my blog on November 3rd!

  15. I totally am guilty of choosing style over function, but I'm not sure if I'm quite ready to give that up! :)

  16. Spencer and Rutherford is mine, overstuffed but organized. I positively adore the Camellia Chanel! What a lovely image of quality. I suppose that if you carry the Chanel all you would need would be a platinum card and ID.
    You must have struggled with that return. Your mother is a very generous gal; Silver flatware from The Vault and Chanel. Certainly other gifts "reeking of privilege" could grace the page, I am holding my breath in anticipation.

  17. my wallet is embarrassing… it's not really a wallet but a plaid change purse my children picked out just for me!

    I remember my mother telling me never to get a fancy wallet. She had an extraordinary one when I was young. It was stolen. There was no money in it — or none to speak of. When you live in NYC you tend to get used to not carrying cash. Even back in the 70s. My mother had her plastic. The plastic could be replaced. The wallet could not. She mourned its loss. And that is when she told me never to get a really nice wallet!

  18. I appreciate a beautiful wallet. Great if it functions well too. I have too great ones, a light grey canvas LV for the summer months and a darling matte crocodile YSL for the winter months. These were expensive ones, the latter especially. But I justified the purchase by telling myself that this way I could learn to use my cards and euros sensibly ; ) Naturally it didn´t quite work out the way I expected. But the wallets are still in excellent condition.

  19. I *must* have a zip-around wallet. I carry a patent zip Prada in deep wine. No gold logo, just a simple embossed one.

  20. A wonderful wallet you got there, Lisa! Functional yet beautiful- the magic combo.
    I say, everyone sees your wallet, sSo carry a nice one.

    Mine is the same as Miss Cavendish's; Prada wallets are hardy.

  21. I find myself wishing for photos of all these wallets. Well-worn, stylish, plastic change purses, and none at all. None at all, I would feel like my life was dandelion gone to seed, about to fly away on the air. I respect the bravery of none at all.

  22. Style? What? Mine is green. It still closes. Good enough. The camellia is nice, though.

  23. Completely of the school that wallets, like underware, must be presentable.
    Like my sock drawer – no one may see it or care, it but I know it looks good…….reverse domestic snobbery……! !

    My grandmother always called hers her "pocketbook".

  24. The plastic could be replaced. The wallet could not.

    I got a functional, not completely unattractive, but not expensive purse at Goodwill to take on a trip to Europe. I did not want to take either of my much-beloved purses with me. If stolen, the credit cards could be replaced easily, but oh how I would mourn the loss of either purse. (You can see a photo in the link.)

  25. I have a need to make things much more complicated than necessary sometimes. I commute, so I lug all my bits and pieces in a cute messenger bag. But then I need to run an errand at lunch! Don't want to carry the big bag, but if I just take the wallet, I'll leave it on the counter at the Gap. So, I have a smaller bag in my bigger bag to carry the wallet and the cell phone.

    ~Sigh~ I'm like the old George Carlin routine about my stuff…….

  26. I have the coolest Orla Kiely wallet EVER. It was a sample sale splurge, but it's BIG, with a change purse, all kinds of compartments and plenty of room for cards, a super durable zipper with a leather pull, and it's vinyl (so no worries about it getting wet when you put in on the table at a restaurant). Plus it has a rad coffee cup design. I get endless compliments and it makes me happy when I pull it out.

    So there. You can have it all.

  27. I much prefer the Tod's one you chose to the Chanel. Good choice.

    Mine is black and large. I really want to get a new, brown, one. But the black one is nice & in good condition, so I just cannot justify it.

  28. You guys really make me laugh. Julia, you don't fool me. I saw those pillows you made…esb – yeah, you can have it all. Especially you. I do recommend dental insurance. That just polished feeling is as good as Chanel. And Peacock, I think it's good for the soul not to justify a new wallet just on the basis of color. But I could imagine a black wallet that could cause a sinking heart sometime.

  29. I hope you don't hate me for this but I recently purchased a Mulberry purse (soft dark grey leather-smells divine!) as a present for finishing my masters. It has so many pockets and zips but still manages to be absolutely beautiful and perfect. :D One very very happy girl!!


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