I hate to admit it, but living in a cosmopolitan city like London has made me more materialistic than ever. Subscribing to magazines like Stylist with their weekly "Style List" of things to buy and email newsletters like SheerLuxe (which is, essentially, one huge advertisement wrapped up in witty editorial and pretty website design) really don't help my habit of "coveting", as John calls it.
But he's right.
I remember ogling the sea of Longchamp Le Pliage bags on the commute in to work when I first moved to London - it seemed like the grown-up, sophisticated working woman's handbag. Plus, it folded up into a little square when not in use - how handy is that? I went through iterations of the bags (because the corners wear so quickly) and my latest one is seldom used, except for traveling, and remains at the back of my wardrobe.
Next, it was the ubiquitous Links of London silver "Sweetie" charm bracelet, worn by the same Longchamp-toting women and which I pined over for months and months, unsuccessfully saving up for it until, one day, I found a gift wrapped Links box waiting for me on the window seat of our Maida Vale flat. John had beat me to it. I wore it every day for about three years or so and now, less frequently - preferring a more delicate rose gold chain.
Then, it was the Mulberry East West Bayswater handbag, which I first saw on the arm of my incredibly stylish and put-together friend, Jodi. By some stroke of luck, my family happened to pass through Bicester Village (i.e. I forced John to drive us there en route from Oxford), the discount designer factory outlet in Oxfordshire, a few years ago. My mom and I walked into the Mulberry store and it seemed as though I was magnetically pulled toward the first one I saw. "I'll pay for half of it," said my mom, as I protested. "Stop arguing with me and take the one you want before someone else takes it, for goodness sake!" she said, exasperated. Somehow, she ended up paying for all of it by using some kind of nonsensical mathematical deduction of money she owed me (she didn't - not one pence) for expenses used during the trip and I walked away with a ribbon tied around the handles of that unmistakable Mulberry shopping bag.
It gets worse.
I'll never forget the moment I walked into the Liberty London scarf hall for the very first time. Rows and rows of silk scarves hung from floor to nearly ceiling - each a beautiful silk-screened piece of art on its own. I flipped over the price tag and gulped: £95. 'No one needs an expensive silk scarf,' I thought to myself as I touched the exquisite fabric. But I felt a rush of adrenaline in my veins as I stared at the pretty, swirling stained-glass patterns and I added the scarf to my carefully curated, mental "covet list" of things to acquire some day.
A few weeks ago, an email pinged into my inbox from Vente-Privee - a French flash sale site that now operates in the UK. "The Liberty London scarf sale is now open!" it exclaimed brightly. I stared at the pink banner for a while, willing my finger not to click on the link. But it did. And £35 later (a significant reduction from £95, might I add!) I walked away (well, as much as you can "walk away" in cyberspace) with a gorgeous, peacock-feather print Hera scarf, which I tied around my all-black outfit yesterday like so:
(Yes, that is a Kate Spade watch and a Monica Vinader necklace pictured - both which I had also coveted and were also given to me as gifts.)
My friends and I email links to each other all the time of things we "want" or "like" or "just have to have". But increasingly, my "coveting" habit has made me realize just how much I have, and that I should really focus on that for a change, rather than the "next big thing". Not only am I lucky to have a beautiful array of accessories that I once coveted but now own, but I'm also extremely lucky to have my health, my family, my husband, and my wonderful friends - touch wood.
Feeling grateful (and, okay, a little stylish) today.