Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Skewered by a 13-year-old fashionista

 HALLIE EPHRON: Pat Kennedy, a long time commenter on Jungle Red, is a dear friend who's known me since I was a mere hatchling. She's stylish but no match for her granddaughter, a sassy 13-year-old fashionista.

PAT KENNEDY: I don’t think I ever quite achieved being totally put-together the way that a certain Red does with that flowing mane of silver blond hair, those gorgeous leather jackets, skinny skirts, stiletto heels and a perfect clutch accessory by her side. Truthfully, I sort of gave up on being Stylish-with-a-capital S when I began an exclusive relationship with a clearly matronly Baggalini handbag.
I loved my well-organized Baggallini.


I was visiting my 13-year-old granddaughter Sophie who is so au courant that she writes a style blog for teenagers. A
comment she made startled my confidence.
Sophie: “Bammy, that bag, that thing you’re carrying is just tragic.”

Bammy (me): “But why, dear. It’s the perfect handbag.”
Sophie: “It’s the subtle animal print that is just so horrid. You can’t be seen with that bag! We need to take you shopping.”

I fully recognized that “take you shopping” probably translated into “take me shopping” but her commentary shocked me into changing handbags instantly.

We didn’t go shopping but I did change handbags. Here’s what I chose from my closetful of fashion mistakes. No subtle animal print, but it does feature a metallic bronzed patina and braided handles. I didn’t ask for Sophie’s opinion probably because I worried what she might say – especially about that very large tassel.

As I said, I’ve lost my style-confidence.
Can I just be honest? I missed my Baggallini with all its lovely practical card slots and zippered sections. This bag has just a big old empty space inside. There are no handy slots for credit cards and my driver’s license, so they’re all in a jumble at the bottom of the bag.

Before two days had passed, two cards fell out and were lost. I no longer have an actual wallet, so the money was also heaped in that pile at the bottom of the bag. Forget about retrieving my cell phone quickly – not gonna happen.
Worst thing ever? No long cross-body strap.

I’ll be even more truthful. I put that bronzed beauty back in the closet and will just have to admit to Miss Sophie next time I see her that my Baggallini and I are once again an item.

HALLIE: Cheering for you, Pat. Because, can I be frank? I hate that big honkin' bag. I mean, tassel? It looks awfully heavy. And can it go in the washing machine?

But then, I love the Baggallini, too, though I see what Sophie means about the (barely noticeable) leopard print. I'm sure Sophie would consider my fashion choices (Baggelinis, Birkenstocks, Eileen Fisher) tragic, too.

Have you had a youngster puncture your sense of style? 

... and tune in tomorrow as the Reds discuss our own tragic and not-so tragic handbag choices. We'll answer this and other pressing questions: Can a diaper bag make a great purse?

Pat Kennedy is a public relations professional who's worked with clients for more than 25 years to help them understand their brand position and how to apply it across a spectrum of communication channels. Our successful approach helps clients successfully leverage and manage their brand – one of their most important assets.


  1. So far, the grandbabies have not skewered my style [or lack thereof], but since I have no real grasp on what's "in" or "correct" in this day and age, I continue to wear what I like. Since I am totally lacking in any sense of style, no one's ever going to consider me a fashionista . . . .

  2. I gave up style long ago (I'm with you on the Birkie's, Hallie). And I think I'm going to have to get a Baggalini! It looks perfect.

  3. Haliie, finally a fashion post I can relate to! Pat, I have been a Baggallini fan since I first discovered them. I have their shoulder bags, a rolling carry-on that I call my portable desk, and a bright lime green passport holder I've used ever since my passports fell out of a very fashionable untragic leather bag. Won't lose those babies again.But I do struggle a little with the I-am-so-uncool thing, so my solution is to pack and organize my Baggallini to my heart's content and then stow it it in a larger fashionable tote bag when I am going somewhere I might not be admitted with a tragic bag.

  4. My millennial daughters are super-critical of my Target sunglasses, oversized, the frames a mélange of blue and poison green. Their loss.

  5. Love your solution, Michele!

    Margaret, I might be with your daughters on that one.

    I just bought some slide on sneakers that my kids find hiddie.But they're Soooo comfy.

  6. Ha ha Margaret, that's too funny. Sometimes we know better...

    Yes Michele, that's a good idea! I'm a baggallini girl too, including tragic leopard print:). Our kids are careful with my "style" choices, though it's been brought to my attention that I always wear the same thing--black! John, however, is not so lucky. He was told last year that his only suit was tragically baggy. (for the record, I think he looks nice in it:), but the style seems to be very thin legs.)

  7. I'm married to a man who has exactly one suit, and it would be the one we got married in if I hadn't insisted 15 years ago that he get a new one. I was going to say "... and no one hassles him" but in fact, my daughters do and so do I. He's good a tuning out.

  8. Oh, I love that some of you (Susan) are off to Google Baggallini. And that you're reacting with bedazzled amusement at the "tragic" nature of life, love and handbags. But if you are 13 years old and into Girl-Drama, then your choice of accessories can probably determine how socially successful you are as well as making you fail the French test you didn't have time to study for.

  9. I also wanted to say how much I LOVE the grandgirl's use of "tragic" to describe a purse. Must work that into a teenage character's dialog!

  10. Shopping has been a mother/daughter bonding activity in my family for generations. I love shopping with my 23-year-old daughter, the uber-fashionable Lily. She prevents me from making tragic mistakes (Lily's rule: big, flowing top--skinny bottoms; big flowing pants--clingy top. Never big-on-big.) Once when we were shopping, something in a boutique window caught my eye and we went in. Lily glanced around at the merchandise, which was targeted to the "mature" market, grabbed my arm and said, "Let's get out of here, Mom. You're better than this!" I do have to disregard her on shoes, however. Love my super-cushy, good-arch-support Taos sandals. Lily does approve of Birkenstocks as long as they're worn in an ironic, "so dorky they're cool" way. I find mine to be too stiff, and like the Taos better.

  11. Oh, this is so hilarious! I work in an office where there are lots of interns, and I admit, I look to see what they're wearing. However: I would probably never copy it. Sometimes I think they forgot to put on their pants. Or, perhaps, they came from ice skating practice-- I mean, where else with those skirts be appropriate?

    I do, sadly, remember how my mother looked at me when I tried to wear what I thought was cool. And it was, then. So I try not to judge. And fail, miserably.

    The chic versus practical bag thing is a toughie, I have to admit. Pat, I love that "bigger "bag-- but it is better in the picture, I bet, then it is actually to use.

  12. Oh Edith, I love it too, and I say tragic all the time when things aren't really so... Except fashionably.
    But Hallie, Hiddie? That is wonderful.

  13. Oooh, Pat. May I send Sophie a picture of some shoes? I ordered them thinking they were cool… And now I am worried they are… Tragic. I cannot decide. Maybe she can?
    Maybe we could bring her on as the jungle red fashion advisor? Maybe she could do a lot for us?

  14. I just realized: if you have to ask if they are tragic, they are.

  15. Am poised to order a deep purple baggalini. Seriously!

  16. Darling Hank...Sophie barely has time to critique my outfits let alone deciding on a choice of shoes for you. Navigating life among her Brookline posse takes all her time and energy. Did I mention that she's deep into the thicket of Girl Drama?

    And Edith, you go girl. Purple!? A bold choice.

    SW: I don't know about Taos sandals. Guess, I'll be moving on to Google myself.

  17. I bought a big raspberry colored Baggelini with orange interior for my adult daughter, mother of small children, for Christmas 2 years ago. She uses it every day and it looks like new. For me, I have a small cross over just big enough for two pairs of glasses, my wallet, phone and keys. You can stuff it under an airplane seat, put your feet on it, then brush it off and it's good to go. REI. But it's purple.

  18. When I am going someplace important - like a conference - I run all my outfit and jewelry choices past my 15 (soon to be 16) year old daughter. The Girl makes sure that I am appropriately fashionable, taking into account I cannot wear high-heeled shoes. "You're not old, Mom. You need more of a cool edge." Okay then. She's not overly fond of my sunglasses (larger black plastic ones I bought at the Gap - I couldn't find the shape of my old ones), but they are "okay." But day to day? It's just work. Jeans and a shirt. It's all good.

    I'm a big fan of Clarks shoes. Love the cushioning in the foot bed. I think I've gotten to the point where Clarks make up my entire shoe wardrobe.

    I recently ditched a purse for a wallet that doubles as a phone case (this after leaving purse behind 3 times in two days). Why? I always have my phone in hand. So I have all my important cards, a pocket for cash, and my phone. And that's all I need. A bigger bag and it becomes a repository for junk.

  19. Mary, I do the same thing. Youngest is just about the same age as your daughter - turning 16 later this summer - and she's my go-to fashion editor. She has an amazing eye for yes, no, or needs something. And I've had the same experience as you - I'll ask, "Is this too young for me?" and she'll say, "No!You look on point."

    Pat, I think it can be a great thing to have a style-wise member of the next generation look us over once in a while. Even if we don't take all the advice (No, I'm not wearing heels instead of flats!) it's good to keep fresh. I remember seeing all the grown women who still wore their hair in a fifties bouffant when I was a teen in the 70's. None of us wants to be out there looking like we did 20 years ago!

  20. Glorious bag. When you find one you love - USE IT TO DEATH! Alas, it is the role of the young to puncture our core beliefs. It's what teens and tweens do. Provides for the continuity of the species. So, Bammy, cherish Sophie, she's the wave of the future, and someday...she'll be a Bammy too :).

    Seriously, I had a bag I loved, it looked like an old-style doctor bag. Had a place for everything. When it aged past the point of the cobbler, I traded it in for a belt wallet big enough for cash, credit cards and cell phone. Of course, I was recently accosted by the fashion police in Total Wine (big secret here - the fashion police looked like an escapee from Flash Dance) and told I needed to lose the belt wallet, but I refuse. I stand by my hard earned right to do and wear what is right for me!

    Clarks - YES! Off to Google Baggallini AND Taos - now that's tragic! Happy June 1st

  21. is a belt wallet a fanny pack? So practical, but OH what a fashion faux pas.

  22. Wow, I came thisclose to buying the animal print Baggallinu last week! The carryon, that is. Whew. But I do love a good handbag. I like the Nordstrom sale table, but you have to pass over a lot of howlingly bad wastes of leather to get a good one. I have discovered a kind of leather wipe thingie that helps keep favorite bags going another couple of years if you're like me and amortize the cost of a good one.

  23. Pat, I'm howling! Can't wait until my darling little grandbaby Wren is giving me fashion advice. In the meantime, I have my daughter, who always looks...perfect. I don't know where she gets it. Certainly not from me. I told her once that she must have been born with a sense of style. She said, "No, Mom. I just look at Pinterest every night and put my outfit together." So there's the solution for us fashion-challenged. Although for some reason it doesn't seem to work as well for me as it does for her...

  24. I'm having the best time reading all of these comments and am so glad, Nancy M, that I saved you from buying the same bag last week.
    You all know, doncha, that I'm not taking Miss Sophie's advice too seriously.
    And, Deborah, how does one use Pinterest to put an outfit together???? Do you have to take pictures of every item of clothing that you use? Way too much work.

  25. I have a closet full of purses acquired over the years in my search for the perfect one. Someone mentioned a diaper bag? I have a smallish one from Lands End that is just right for travel. And I mean smallish; it is just 12 x 8 if that much. I think it was meant to use for toddlers who don't require tons of diapers. My husband bought me a lovely leather bag in Argentina. I try to use it every year but it just doesn't work. So back to the closet after only 2 or 3 days. I must have an outside pocket for keys and it doesn't. I think I bought a used Baggalini on ebay but the model I got was not right. Again.

  26. Pat, you can Pin things you like on your own page (I have one I called What to Wear) or you can just look through different categories of Pins for things you like. Then you use the outfit you like as a sort of template for putting together things you already have. Does that make sense? It's not nearly as hard as it sounds. And it's fun. I do it when I'm trying to put together clothes for things like book tours or trips to England.

    A bit pointless at the moment as I'm trying to finish a book and haven't worn anything but cotton yoga pants and t-shirts for the last two months:-)

  27. Oh, my, your granddaughter would run screaming into the night at my lack of style, Pat. I think Baggallini is a great choice for handbag. I have at least one and another brand like it, but I can't remember the name right now.

    My six-year-old granddaughter is still pleased with my quirky choices, like book earrings or Halloween earrings. And, she is so sweet to tell me that she thinks my blouse is pretty sometimes. Of course, I know there will come a day when she looks at me and says, "Grammy, you're seriously going to wear those book earrings."

  28. You are making me feel better. I walked by the Vera Bradley store at the Natick Mall today, and thought, "My that's an attractive print." And then immediately thought, "Am I old enough for Vera Bradley? Good grief."

    My very stylish daughter used to try with me, but somewhere in her twenties decided just to be amused by me instead.

  29. Kathy, or maybe she'll want to borrow them!