Are We Sheep?

The comments section of one of my most recent posts (The Perfect Jewelry Wardrobe) had a very interesting discussion going on about those very recognizable, popular pieces – Cartier Love bracelets, Van Cleef Alhambra, Valentino Rockstuds, etc, and people wearing them together. By the way, some of the best discussions come from  comments which go “against the grain” so I always enjoy hearing them, unless they are excessively rude (I already weigh in every month on the OB, so no need for additional fatty remarks, please!).

Anyway, a few commenters had remarked that anyone wearing too many of these recognizable pieces ran the risk of looking like sheep – a sea of ladies trotting around carrying Birkins and dangling multiple Cartier Love bracelets and wearing Chanel flats, etc, etc etc. While I understand how that idea might sound ridiculous to some (how can items which cost so much and are supposed to be luxury possibly be “overdone”)? I also have seen firsthand on both myself and others, a certain amount of “matching”. It’s especially prevalent in certain metropolitan areas, on Instagram, and the cast of Real Housewives. Just to go ahead and list off the top of my head, at risk items include:

  • Classic Chanel flaps
  • Valentino Rockstud
  • Hermes Birkins and Kellys
  • Cartier Love and Juste un Clou bracelets
  • Van Cleef Alhambra
  • Chanel flats and espadrilles
  • Gucci loafers
  • Louis Vuitton Neverfull bags
  • Goyard St. Louis totes
  • Hermes Collier de Chien bracelets

I will admit that I used to try to avoid having too many of these items….I felt like as someone who enjoys fashion, I should be going out of my comfort zone, trying out less popular labels and items. For fear of being labeled that most dreaded of words…basic. I looked at photos of fashion editors, seeing how I could make their items work for myself. Now though? I would pretty much like everything on that list above! I’ve kind of given up trying to avoid items I love, just because they’re popular, because in the end I still love them and they’re what I come back to anyway. I also realized that I just don’t have the natural talent to pull together a bunch of random pieces and make them work…to be able to grab that one item out from the back of the rack which looks hideous and transform it into something awesome on myself. It’s easier just to go for that beautiful, easy, time tested piece.

Especially after having kids, I just want to buy items quickly, enjoy them, and not feel bad about them. I also realized I buy less this way…because maybe I’ll try out a few other items, but realize I just wanted another Chanel bag or piece of Alhambra anyway, and should have just gotten it all along. So why not save time, effort, and money? I’ve come to terms with the idea that I might be sheep like in some of my buying…that I’m probably being incepted by various luxury conglomerates as they laugh all the way to the bank…but as one of my commenters, the lovely Sonja said…baaaaaa.

How do you feel about being a “sheep”? And again I’d like to emphasize that I really don’t mean this post as a negative or positive statement one way or another…I think it’s a fascinating topic, with roots that go into areas such as the proliferation of “mass” luxury, the rise of social media/celebrity culture and I’d love to hear what you all think.

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  • Alisa Gabriel
    April 10, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Baaaaa; great post! Although I don’t own EVERYTHING on your list, I do own quite a few. In my opinion, the trick lies in not overdoing the mix or wearing one designer head to toe — a couple of recognizable pieces is plenty. As the lovely Ines de la Fressange writes in her book Parisian Chic, “a pile-up of labels is fatal”. She’s talking about women 40+ but I think it’s true of anyone — if nothing else, it shows a lack of imagination and a tendency to try too hard. Much more chic to mix your Serpenti watch and Gucci shoes with an Isabel Marant or Maje jacket, old Levi’s, and a lesser-known bag from Hermès. Still luxurious but styled for the individual.

    • Susie Tunes
      April 10, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Totally agree – love the Ines quote

    • Katherine
      April 11, 2017 at 11:37 am

      Love the Ines quote. Thank you for reminding me of it!

  • Sarah
    April 10, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Gosh! That’s scary, because I be got some of the items in your list and I never viewed myself as a 🐑. I think if you have ALL ofthem though, one has to ask, do I really like these things or do I just buy because someone says they are a must have. For example I have Kelly but no Valentino rockstuds, whichmake sense because they are VERY different stylistically…,

    • Katherine
      April 11, 2017 at 11:38 am

      Very true and I do think that from reading your blog, you have a very strong and developed sense of your personal style, Sarah.

  • Jaime Stephens
    April 10, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    I have quite a few but as far as the Goyard St. Louis tote, no way. Instead, I have two PM Bellechasses, one Fidji Hobo, one Artois, and one Jeanne MM. And even here in Washington, DC, very few people even know what they are. I love being under the radar.

    • Katherine
      April 11, 2017 at 11:38 am

      Which one is your favorite? I’ve long eyed the Artois! Love the zipped top and corners.

      • Jaime Stephens
        April 11, 2017 at 6:24 pm

        Love the Artois with the zipper – very secure. But I love the spaciousness of the Bellechasse!

  • melmel
    April 10, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    I don’t think I’m a sheep. From your list above, I have only two of the items, and both of them I purchased when they were newly released and not yet popular (the Neverfull and the Rockstud flats). Except for the Kelly (which I really really want), none of the other items on your list appeal to me. I’ve never been fond of branded jewelry as I think they are massively overpriced. But, to each her own taste and I don’t really think less of others who have (or want to have) those popular items listed above.

    • Katherine
      April 11, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Very mature and thoughtful sentiment 🙂

  • K
    April 10, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    I buy what I like. I enjoy being current & classic. It’s possible. My choices are a reflection of my personality & style. Fashion should be fun. If I’m considered a sheep, that’s ok with me

    • Katherine
      April 11, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Current and classic – love this!

  • Melissa
    April 10, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Certain items are popular because they have mass appeal in terms of style, utility, or brand recognition. Just because something is ubiquitous, if I like it, I see no problem in buying it. Like a previous reader commented, just don’t wear all these pieces together. I have to admit that I am weary of buying items like the LV Neverfull totes, even though I like them, because there are so many fakes out there. Finally, we are more aware of certain brands of jewelry, bags, and shoes because of social media and the fashion bloggers who sport these hot items.

    • Katherine
      April 11, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Yes fakes are definitely an element to this…they can make a popular item even more ubiquitous..

  • ella
    April 11, 2017 at 5:57 am

    I agree with your post and with the comments above: buy what you like but mix it up and stay true to your own aesthetic and you won’t look like everyone else. I live on the UES and it’s always obvious when someone dresses to fit in, and not to please herself. I have a number of the things on that list but would never wear others (much as I admire them on other women) because they just aren’t my style. (The Collier de Chien, Juste un Clou, and Rockstuds are all too edgy for me – can’t pull those styles off!) Buying something in an unexpected color is also fun (as I sit here looking at my cobalt Kelly and pink coat . . .).

    • Sarah
      April 11, 2017 at 7:24 am

      Cobalt Kelly & blue coat sounds delightful

    • Katherine
      April 11, 2017 at 11:40 am

      I agree with Sarah, the cobalt Kelly and pink coat both sound lovely! I’d also love to be a fly on the wall and observe that environment, I wonder what the signs are when someone is dressing to fit in?

  • tata
    April 11, 2017 at 9:16 am

    if i’m going to be a sheep, i’d rather be a stylish luxurious sheep!

    • Katherine
      April 11, 2017 at 11:41 am

      Yes, eating the best quality grass!

  • Oonagh
    April 11, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Hi Kat, I was one of the people who left a comment about everyone wearing the same on your last post. Afterwards I felt bad, because I didn’t feel it was constructive, so apologies for that, let me try to fix it.
    Your previous post was about a jewellery wardrobe, and I think it should be approached like a clothes wardrobe – what’s your lifestyle, what will you wear, what styles suit you, what colour metal, what colour stones. That should be the starting point.
    All of the items you list in this post are classics for a reason, they’re beautiful, so of course lots of people like them. But sometimes I suspect people buy these things without thinking whether they personally like them or whether these items fit into their lifestyle, but rather because they believe that by buying and wearing these items, they will automatically be stylish (and of course aspirational for others). I think that’s the wrong place to start.
    Thanks for the follow up post, very interesting!

    • Katherine
      April 11, 2017 at 11:42 am

      Hi Oonagh, thank you for weighing in again and providing more insight! I think your last sentence about thinking that certain items make you automatically stylish is an interesting one…perhaps it stems from that adage that the one perfect IT bag will “elevate” an outfit of otherwise cheap clothing. Such an interesting topic!

  • Abby
    April 11, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I wonder if people who own items on your list truly love them or if they just like that those items are easy social signifiers that they have the means to afford the item and are “in the know” about the brand. If any of those items cost $100, would they still perceive them the same way? I don’t know that I would, which is a guilty and uneasy feeling.

    • Katherine
      April 11, 2017 at 11:43 am

      Great question and thank you for being honest about that guilty and uneasy feeling, which I think many of us have experienced when asking certain questions to ourselves about the purchases we make.

  • tata
    April 11, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    so at what point in our life do we stop caring about what others think of us? obviously, i can’t say it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if someone called me a sheep… but at the same time, at this point in our lives (and honestly, when we are buying birkins and rockstuds we are at least in our mid twenties/thirties???) should we still be caring about what others think of us?

  • K
    April 11, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    The issue I have with overexposed items is that people think that “classic/popular” equals “good fit.”

    Unfortunately that’s far from true across different body types/shapes. I saw a tiny woman carrying a far too large for her Birkin in Bergdorf’s the other day; I didn’t stop to admire the bag, but I did wonder about what she was thinking when she bought it – it comically overwhelmed her petite figure. My point is that clothing and accessories must work *for* us. I think luxury items lose their luxuriousness when they fail to complement our bodies.

    • K
      April 11, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      And to that end- if this season’s “it” items all happen to fit marvelously, then you should get them all!

  • Sesy
    April 11, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Kat,
    I own some of the items above and even I am planning to buy more of them, however I dont think that would make me a sheep though. I am not a slave to never ending trends and I only carry my Chanel if it is occassion appropriate. I saw this woman carried a Birkin 35 with a long evening dress. It just threw the whole thing off. I would rather carry small mid designer label that goes well with my outfit than showing to the whole world I can afford a Birkin. It is obvious she carried a Birkin because of the brand only not to help her look her best, and I have seen this many times.
    Mai Tai and Bababebi are some women that their style I admire ( I hope you can do interviews on them soon, unless you had and I didnt know it ! ). They can pull off Hermes scarf, Hermes necklace, Birkins all in one outfit without looking “lost”. They have certain flair, manners and above all, elegance. Though they own most, if not all, risky items above they definitely not sheep at all.

    • Katherine
      April 13, 2017 at 9:22 pm

      Agreed on the large Birkins with evening dress – I often think it usually looks off! And Mai Tai and Bababebi both have fabulous style, I love following along on IG 🙂

  • Archana
    April 12, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Women should wear what they like. Irrespective of if they are popular or trendy. Or what others think of it.

    Personally, I dont like any of the prescribed taste manuals. So I dont own any recognizable items. But I am one of those women who see trendy items that everyone runs out to buy as a not so desirable character in my dressing.

    One overlooked factor in it all : time and energy. To hunt down the non-popular unique obscure items, you either have to be in places that are not well traveled or have the time to find these things. Some women have this. Some dont. After sneering at women who dress in the ’10 essentials every woman should own’, I realized it’s not fair to judge.

    • Katherine
      April 13, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      Yes I like the point about time and energy – it does take both to hunt for the “less popular” pieces.

  • Michelle
    April 12, 2017 at 7:41 am

    I stand by the adage to buy and wear what I love and so if that makes me a sheep, that’s ok 😄
    I am pretty selective about my likes and what suits my lifestyle. Valentino rock studs, Chanel classic anything, Gucci sneakers and LV Neverfull totes are not my thing but if they rock someone else’s boat, totally fine with me!

    • Katherine
      April 13, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      I never realized that about you and Chanel and the classic flaps – you have so many gorgeous special Chanel pieces!

  • Elizabeth
    April 12, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    I think this is a really interesting question. I had this odd experience getting my Love bracelet polished at Cartier in Beverly Hills…every woman in the room (maybe 15-20 women starting at about 13 years old) had the same accessories: a stack of Loves and VCA, a Birkin, Roger Vivier flats, etc. It did make me feel that to many these are “musts” to establish social status rather than personally relevant expressions of individual style.
    That said, a) of course everyone should wear what she loves and not care if it’s ubiquitous b) many don’t have the time or desire to be deliberately different/achieve some kind of fabulous high/low mix and are very happy with these “classic” pieces. Does sticking to classics make you a “sheep”? I don’t think so – it seems very practical. Add in the fact that fashion choices can have a deliberate effect (I DO carry a Birkin to a “power meeting” for the exact same reason a guy wears his Rolex, etc.) and I just don’t think this is something to be judged by anyone but the wearer.

    • Katherine
      April 13, 2017 at 9:24 pm

      Completely agree with both your points…and also I should have put Roger Vivier on the list!

    • h
      April 14, 2017 at 11:04 am

      I think this is really interesting point – men wear, partly by choice and partly by having a narrower breadth of clothes/brands, the same thing very frequently – hermes ties, rolex watches, lobb shoes, etc and I’ve never heard anyone criticize them for being sheep, basic, etc and instead say things like they have ‘good taste’ or ‘classic style’.

      • Katherine
        April 14, 2017 at 1:24 pm

        GREAT point.

  • Yuwei
    April 12, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Oh boy….I must be the biggest sheep then. There’s only two things on your list I don’t own 😱 But to be honest I don’t wear most of those things on the list anymore as they’ve gotten over saturated. I still wear them once in awhile – albeit, never all at the same time!

    • Katherine
      April 13, 2017 at 9:24 pm

      That’s very interesting…are there any that you do still wear a lot? And are you still happy keeping them in your wardrobe?

  • Sarah
    April 13, 2017 at 9:27 am

    This is such a great post. Very interesting comments too- thank you Katherine!

    • Katherine
      April 13, 2017 at 9:24 pm

      Thank you Sarah!

  • Anonymous
    April 13, 2017 at 11:28 am

    If you really love the items and they make you happy, you should go for them😊

    • Katherine
      April 13, 2017 at 9:25 pm

      Thank you! A happy attitude 🙂

  • Mary
    April 13, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Interesting post and comments.
    All on your list are classics – the fail safe of fashion. As someone who has purchased every ‘it’ bag since the ’90’s, I can say that there are many times I wish I had purchased a classic rather than a fashion bag. I have a closet full of very expensive bags that I wouldn’t be caught dead using. Same with jewelry and shoes. My Chanel ballet flats I have been safely wearing for 30 years; I can’t remember the last time I wore platform Lobos.
    Everything you mentioned are smart buys that are actually thrifty purchases. If someone had a limited budget they would be wise to purchase something off of your list. Especially today when visual fatigue shortens the lifespan of any trendy fashion item.

    • Katherine
      April 13, 2017 at 9:25 pm

      Great point about visual fatigue…and I’m another victim of the platform Loubs, I haven’t worn mine in many years.

  • Groupthink7
    April 16, 2017 at 10:09 am

    I definitely, buy what I like. However, I have sold some things on the list because I got tired of seeing it or wearing it myself. I feel that fashion should be fun, but I know truly fashionable people when I see them. They will make a $5 dollar dress look fly. No disrespect, we are all sheep when it comes to fashion. We are told what we should buy based on something being classic, or trendy, or whatever label of the day is. We all have been programmed to be consumers. I am trying to break this programming now. We are spending enormous amounts of money on things that we are told to buy. If there was no advertising (i.e. magazines, blogs, etc.), most of us wouldn’t have bought half of the stuff on these lists. I just got tired of making rich people richer. Also, I can’t really justify the quality anymore with these high prices. Also, what makes something special when you see everyone else with it (especially spending $$$$ a pop on it). Just my opinion. Buy what you like. Blessings!

  • Jan
    April 18, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    I live in the Burbs, and I’m a sheep. I love it when they think my H is Michael Kors.