I had a wandering eye growing up in Topeka, Kansas. A wandering eye for things I couldn’t afford. I liked expensive purses but had no intimate knowledge of them whatsoever. No idea of cost, where to buy, and certainly no one I knew to ask. One year, out of ignorance, I asked my mom and grandma to “go halvsies” on a Louis Vuitton for me for Christmas. SURELY the purse wasn’t more than $150 or so, or so I thought. Bless their hearts, they checked into it. And the result was advice from my grandmother: “You’d better go to college and get a good job, sweetheart.”
One of my best friends growing up was my cousin, who was worldly and fashionable and from the big, booming metropolis of Kansas City. She had the cutest clothes, the best hair, and her accessories were always top-notch. And she was far more beautiful than me, so I pretty much idolized her from top to bottom.
When we were teenagers (she was only 11 months older than me), she had the coolest purse that I LONGED for. It was a plaid Polo Ralph Lauren Blackwatch Plaid Speedy/Doctor’s Bag and I was obsessed with it. Too shy to ask to borrow it (plus she’d definitely have said “fuck to the no”), I just silently sat in reverence. This bag was IT. This is what hers looked like:
So I let it go. Even when we were roommates in college, I let it go. Instead of the tongue-lashing response that a well-placed request to borrow would bring, I let it go.
Cut to twenty years later and everything from everywhere ever can be found online. Eventually I recalled my lust for the line and I did a search. You can still get them, but finding a new one is going to take some patience and some cash. So I wait. I wait to be struck with the need to spend hundreds still on a bag I have wanted for almost 30 years.
There’s a whole Ralph Lauren line with this particular style of plaid, called “Blackwatch”, and Lauren isn’t the only one who have used the design in their, uh, design.
From golf shoes to golf bags, to overnight bags to crossbody bags and wallets, just the Ralph Lauren line had something for everyone, if you could afford it.
Ralph Lauren Blackwatch products from the late 1980s.
So the other day I took my life into my own hands and visited the city’s Goodwill OUTLET center. If you haven’t been to one yet, it’s an experience.
From what I understand, the outlet center is where Goodwill items from their “regular” stores come to when they don’t sell. And it’s not set up like your average Goodwill store. They bring out items in big, 10-12-foot bins and people just dig through them. And dig they will.
Instead of paying for your items by the piece, you pay for everything by the pound.
On this trip, where I was seriously unprepared to compete with the mostly-Spanish-speaking customers who were smaller and quicker and could fit into tiny spaces better than me, so I mostly watched and learned. BUT I did pick up a few things, and one of them was the Ralph Lauren Blackwatch backpack below.
I also grabbed a few random items that didn’t amount to much: an unused pair of Teva flip-flops, a silver server like my great grandma used to use at Christmas and a few other items of no real consequence. All told, I spent under $7.
So I would guess that this gorgeous bag set me back a cool $3 all told.
It’s seen better days. There’s a rip on the back side where the strap meets the bottom part of the bag, which means I need to get it repaired, probably to cost me $30 or so. It also needs a serious cleaning – not sure what all the scunge is inside but I have identified pink fingernail polish inside the side zipper. So it’s not perfect. But isn’t it gorgeous anyway?
So for that price, I could definitely turn a profit on this item. SOMEONE would go for it and pay probably ten times what I paid for it – but I am holding out. Why? I don’t know – it’s money and if I turn enough profit on all of the things I collected and could sell for a profit, I could afford to buy a Blackwatch bag that doesn’t need repairs. What will I do? I don’t know…
I’m not the only one who is in love with blackwatch tartan (check out the tennis racket sleeve!). I have found several sites that highlight the Ralph Lauren line and others.
This isn’t the end of my love affair with these beauties. I am officially on a mission to find as many of them as I can. What do you think of them?