If you don’t mind, I’d like to be blunt and be done with it: I hate Vera Bradley. Along with other “Fashion Trends I Will Never Understand” (e.g. non-prescription eyeglasses, nude panty-hose, purse-riding Chihuahuas, etc.), the phenomenon of Vera Bradley has been a source of perpetual confusion for me.
I myself had never heard of the American design company until perhaps a year ago. Now, I am amazed by how many Vera Bradley bags I can spot in a day. With their overload of floral patterns and Play-Doh themed colors, these quilted cotton bags hardly blend in with the crowd. In fact, they fall perfectly into a similar category: “Fashion Trends That Hurt My Senses” or perhaps, “Top Ten Fads of the Anti-Chic”.
Once I got started on these descriptive lists, I couldn’t stop. What else? Maybe, Oprah’s “Best Diaper Bags of 2009”? Or, Wal-Mart’s “Top-Selling College Dorm Décor” with gender-appropriate color palates? Martha Stewart’s “Cutest Knitting Carry-Alls”? One would almost expect the purse wearer to pull out a ball of equally multi-colored yarn and begin crocheting! Perhaps, I’ve gone a bit too far with that statement. To be fair, I decided to objectively analyze the stylistic context of Vera. What I found cleared up a few question marks, while creating even more.
Akin to that of Brooks Brothers and Vineyard Vines, the style of Vera Bradley is New England Country Club to the extreme. In this way, I can see the sophisticated charm in that style of living. We’re talking about a society of prep schools, Hampton vacations and country clubs in Connecticut. Whether or not Vera Bradley translates into these symbols of the elite can only help its signature look of American class. Thus, there is no doubt that fashion trends have persisted for the sole purpose of identifying social status with no regard for design evolution.
However, that is the exact problem that I have with dear Vera. Fashion inexplicably connotes lifestyles. For me, the one of Vera Bradley depicts a race- and, above all, gender-stereotyped “Pleasantville” in which the women stay at home, garbed in flower aprons, headbands and pearls while the men go off to golf clubs. From a fashion perspective, where’s the passion of free expression in that?
Upon more research, I discovered that Vera Bradley began in 1982 and is now based in Fort Wayne, Ind. Indiana? Enough said. And 1982 is quite recent for a style that should explore the traditional, rustic charisma of high society New England.
On a more light-hearted appeal, I would also not be able to take myself seriously, if I carried a bag named either Sherry, Libby, Betsey, [Insert name here]-y, or “Tic-Tac-Tote”. I must admit though that all fashion is situational. In the case that one does own a yacht or “summers” anywhere, perhaps this is the trend for him or her. However, if you are not one of these individuals, and you still crave the preppy look, I would do Kate Spade or Ralph Lauren Polo in tiny doses and let Vera Bradley rest in peace.