Am I Really Label-less?

I am not a materialistic person. I have not always been this way. Many years ago, I cut the ties of materialism and became the beater of my own drum. This is not to say that I don’t like or buy nice things because that is not true. But I know they are not necessary for my happiness. Sorry if I lost you there, let me explain.

When I was in middle school anyone who was anybody wore Levis jeans. I did not own a single pair. My mother refused to pay almost twenty dollars for a single pair of jeans when she could get me two pairs for that price at Kmart. Man, how I loathed Kmart! My older sister, Peg, knew the importance of fitting in. She bought me my first pair. I would wear them for three days straight. I know, disgusting. Then I’d wash them and repeat the process. I saved my money and eventually got a second pair. At some point, I finally convinced my mother to give in and buy me another pair. So, I guess maybe you could call it peer pressure that brought name brands to my attention.

Now Dirt Man was the opposite of me. He was a rebel. I remember when I first started dating him all of his shirts had a small tear in his upper left chest area. He had actually cut off the Izod alligators on all of his shirts. He did not want to be like everyone else! I was drawn to his individuality and self-confidence. Or maybe opposites attract!

Today, I still wear Levis but not for the reasons I wore them then. Now I buy them for comfort and quality. I wear other jeans as well, but they were not bought because of name brand, but because they made my big butt look just a teensy bit smaller in my mind.

When I shop, I do take price into consideration, but quality is more important. I enjoy a bargain, but if the quality is poor then I don’t consider it a good deal. I like things that are not only nice looking but durable. Point is if I like it, I will buy it regardless of the label.

I do buy certain name brand cars, appliances, clothing, and accessories. But not to be like other people. I buy them because the quality has proven to be good in past experiences. I’d much rather pay top dollar and have something last than to buy something cheap and have to turn around and replace it.

Now, I’m thinking that I do wear certain name brands, and I’m wondering if I have contradicted myself. I do not by any means limit myself to these brands nor bring attention to brand name items. Now, I don’t profess to know what constitutes middle class, but that’s what I consider myself to be. I am comfortable. I just checked my clothing labels on what I am wearing at this exact moment: Shirt – Dress Barn, Jacket – Cold Water Creek, Jeans – Gloria Vanderbilt, Panties – Warners, Bra – Maidenform, Socks – ah ha, no brand! Shoes – Keen. However, in my own defense none of these labels are visible. Does that still make me a Designer Label Slut? Really everything is made by some company, so they’re all branded. But I guess what I was talking about was the trendy-see-how-much-money-I-have-labels that are soooo obvious. I’m talking about showing off and throwing stuff in peoples faces like we did in middle and high school., but in the adult world.

I feel it’s a tremendous difference in buying quality products and wearing designer labels as a status symbol. You know the difference. And you can tell it the second you meet the person. Their attitude says it all. They’re like name droppers, but they bring reference to their labels. I know people like that. Heck, I’m related to them. They’ll ask me what brand it is ,and my response is usually that I don’t know that I bought it because I liked it. Then they’ll start pulling the collar of my blouse to see the label. Seriously, isn’t that just crazy?! And I really don’t notice what brands other people are wearing either. It’s just not important to me. In recognizing the symbols of company brands, I’m probably limited to Nike and Reebok. But I’m just weird like that. Please tell me I’m not the only one.

I think most of us shop in relative terms of our economic status. Most of us frequent places that we can afford. Most of us do not sacrifice our first born to buy a name brand purse or other luxury item of sorts. Most people who can afford designer labels do not show them off. So when I use the term “Designer Label Slut”, I am not referring to you. I am referring to people who go to great lengths to get their hands on items that are brands that they most likely can not afford, and then make sure everyone within range knows they are sporting said deisgner label. I’m talking about the people who in a normal conversation must bring up designer lables constantly. The make sure you know what they own and want to know all about your possessions.

Now, if I did not mention my love for Coach purses, I’d be a total hypocrite. Yes, I do splurge on purses, but I always have. That is one thing that must look nice, be functional, and be of excellent quality. This not to say I’ve always bought Coach. I’ve been through many brands (and nonbrand) of purses. Coach just fits all of my needs at this time in my life. Now, if I find another type of purse that fits my needs, whether or not it’s a designer label, I won’t hesitate to switch. There, I said it.  Apparently, I am not as unmaterialistic as I thought. This post is taking a twist I didn’t expect, but it’s ok because I’m all about telling the truth even if it comes back to bite me in the @$$!

I have to admit to you that I once bought Dirt Man a gorgeous tie. (Never looked at the brand.) We were teaching Sunday School to eighth graders at the time, and he happened to wear it to church. One of our students asked him if it was a Louis Vuitton. He looked dumbfounded and explained that I’d bought it. So, then she asked me. I actually had to flip the tie over to look. Yeah, I am that stupid. She told us that she could spot Louis Vuitton a mile away because he was her favorite designer. Maybe, I should have someone young and in the know with me when I shop. Or maybe sometimes my fashion sense is fashionable as well as sensible. But then again who knows what fashion faux pas Dirt Man and I are sporting!

Now, I am picky about name brands when it comes to food. Yeah, I am. It’s not to say that I won’t try a store brand. I will try it, but it must meet my expectations to be bought a second time. When Dirt Man and I were first married, we’d fight over which brands to buy at the grocery store. He’d want whatever his mom used to buy, and I’d want what mine used to buy. We’d take turns. Eventually, I won that battle since I am the one who does the majority of the cooking.

But there are some items neither of us will budge on. I must have Charmin toilet paper. Sorry, no cheap one-ply scraping across this bum. Heinz ketchup…don’t even suggest another brand. The mayo must be Kraft, and the mustard is French’s. Food is more than sustenance to me; it is comfort. I am a nurturer, and this is the one area I will not compromise.

And there are things I refuse to purchase. Such as I will never buy Colgate toothpaste. It’s like having my mouth host the Ice Capades juggling fire torches. It is that painful to me. Burns the living crap outa me. I will never buy “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” because it’s not butter. And I have to have the real stuff! Nor will you ever catch me buying fake Oreos. They have no place in my house!

And I guess by materialism I mean that I don’t shop just to have things. I shop when I need something. Most of the time anyway. I am still guilty of wants, but I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be. Does that make me superficial?

If I can find a clothing label that meets my expectations, I will reconsider becoming a Designer Label Slut! These are my requirements:

1. Enables me to buy a size smaller.

2. Makes me look 2 sizes smaller.

3. Is of good quality.

4. Fits my taste, looks good.

5. Doesn’t cost me an arm, leg, and both front teeth!

So, how about it, folks, how important are food and clothing labels to you in your every day life?

54 thoughts on “Am I Really Label-less?

  1. Sounds like you have a pretty good mix of labels. You are definitely not a label snob, but practical. Completely agree on the food list, some things you just don’t buy generic.

    I don’t really know all the higher end fashion stuff. Purses, shoes, designer clothes. I didn’t get the fashion gene. I have to look at the mannequin to put clothes together.

    The only time I was trendy was in 4th grade. My great Aunt bought me some jeans with a matching shirt. The jeans had pieces of gum sewed to come out of the pocket, all sparkly and green. The matching shirt had gum out of the front pocket too. I thought I was soooo cool.

  2. I’m only a label whore when it comes to yarn and food. Clothing isn’t such a big deal, but I buy quality over quantity and try to mix & match the pieces for new looks.

    • I didn’t even think about yarn…yes, you must buy quality there. This past year I think was the first year I did not crochet (my knitting kind of stinks!) a single gift for anyone.

  3. I am brand loyal if the brand earns my loyalty. I’m always willing to try store brands and if they measure up, then I continue to buy them. The store brand oatmeal tastes the same as Quaker. But the whole fam agrees that we like real Cheerios better than the store brand.

    One night my Sweetie & I went out to a swanky restaurant. I laughed at myself after I was dressed. I was wearing a combination of Michael Kors, Kenneth Cole, Target, and earrings from Wal-Mart. It went right over my husband’s head. But at least he said I looked nice.

  4. I’m a real pushover with food shopping because while I recognise that many supermarket generic brands are from the same factories as labelled brands, I will *only* buy the labelled goods. When it comes to clothes? I’m afraid comfort took over a long time ago! As long as my clothes look smart, last reasonably well and are comfortable then I’m happy!

  5. I’m a lot like you when it comes to brands. I’ve learned that QUALITY is always better than quantity, and I would rather pay a little more for something that lasts rather than pay less for something that I can buy a bunch of- but have to keep replacing. And brands have a lot to say about a product’s quality. It’s the same thing when it comes to food. Generally, (but not always) generic brands are just not as good as the name brand, and I love, love, love good food (we Southerners love our tasty food!!)

    -Jen

  6. I used to really go crazy wanting Gucci bags, Charles Jourdan shoes, Armani jackets, Hermes scarves and the like. This of course was when I could afford none of the above. Funny, now that I can afford pretty much what I want, I very seldom splurge. (Alex did buy me a Gucci evening bag a couple of years ago for over $2000 but that wasn’t me.) I have a few good bags, a Cartier watch, and I’m very content with shopping at Ross! (My only downfall is shoes. Materialistic doesn’t begin to describe how much a whore I am for shoes!)

  7. Oooh, this hit a home run from me. I’m not into labels for the name’s sake so much as I will buy them if I discover something that works for my squishy mom body or something that is durable and sturdy for my boys.

    But food?? That is a horse of a very different color. Heinz is the ONLY ketchup. I have to get Best Foods for Mayo. Oscar Mayer wins for hot dogs (but my husband disagrees, much to my dismay). Philadelphia cream cheese… Dole pineapple.

    It’s ridiculous. But I have my favorites and there is no substitute. I’ll be cheap about a lot of things, but not food.

    And TP. And it’s Puffs Plus when we’re sick (but I’ll allow for the cheaper store brand when it’s just allergies)…
    :)

  8. With you, pretty much. I think it’s absurd to privilege the label on something over the thing itself. I went to Catholic girls’ high school so we wore uniforms, which I hated, but maybe it was good for the non-clothes-comparing thing. And I have terrible feet, so it’s clunky boots (which make my mother cry) or sandals — no Imelda Marcos-type closet for me :).

  9. I think that there might be somewhat of a correlation between price and quality or price and availability. With clothing, I have to admit that I far prefer to purchase the very best clothing that I can afford from my favorite high-priced store when they have double or triple markdown sales.

    But recently I have been purchasing things for the home and have taken my time to shop around online. There is a world of difference between curtains from Target and curtains from a decorative boutique. If the plain white is OK, then I’ll go to overstock.com any day of the week, but if I need a particular color, texture or style, then I will find it on sale somewhere. The internet is a wonderful thing – thank you Al Gore! :)

    • Oh, I don’t think there’s a question about the correlation between price and quality. You get what you pay for. I think most of us buy the highest quality we can afford.

  10. Quality means more to me, too. And if I like something on me? I’m gonna buy it. I don’t care what brand it is…especially since I like a lot of vintage. My sister on the other hand? That woman loves her brand names.

  11. You have me thinking. I had hand-me-downs as a teenager. My step-sister was two years older than me so I rarely wore anything new. We were very poor. I recall my step-mother getting packages of panties and socks and wrapping them individually to make it look like we had more presents. We received a lot of fruit from the garden in our stockings.

    As an adult, I am very short. The only pants that fit me proper are from Ann Taylor Loft. They get I have hips, a smaller waist and extremely short. I usually only purchase when they are on sale though. The last pair was only $10. That rocks!

    I love Vera Bradley. No label dropping, it just suits my personality. So, I guess I do my shopping based on my personality.

    Now, if ever I will be able to afford a Coach purse. I would love to have one.

  12. It’s funny because I’ve worked for several BIG label companies througout my time in retail, however, I myself am not a label person at all.

    I mean I can shop in K Mart and find cool things, just at well as shopping big names. I’m sorta fruggle, so I enjoy buying less expensive items, that LOOK expensive.

    I will say though, the label Chanel always gettings me alittle excited!

    HA!

  13. For me it was Gloria Vanderbuilt jeans – and my Mom would not buy them for me and my twin sister. Growing up we had ONE pair of jeans to share, and I was always pissed on the days that it wasn’t my turn to wear the jeans!

    I love good quality clothes, but I find them all at thrift stores. Everyone marvels at the cost of my wardrobe, but it takes time and patience. Luckily I produced a daughter who loves thrifting as much as me and we go just about every weekend.

    You’ll be jealous – I have bought three coach purses at thrift stores – one I got for $5 because the zipper was broken. I took it to Coach because they have a lifetime warranty, and for $20 and three weeks later – I had a functioning Coach purse for only $25! :D

    • That’s awesome…I’ve been fortunate with my Coach purses as well because my good friend managed a Coach store for years. I got them as gifts which got me hooked and then got a discount on my purchases! She changed jobs-how I miss those days!

  14. We sounds pretty similar. There are certain things I won’t compromise on and others I totally will, without a second thought. I love Honda, Colgate, Charmin, Newman’s Own Lemonade, Yorkshire Tea and Apple products. Pretty much everything else is negotiable. The one place I have really seen a change is with clothing. I used to be really into quality and was definitely willing to pay more for lined pants or wool cardigans. But now that I am not a corporate working girl I just don’t have the money to do that. Sure, I don’t need as many work clothes but I still need clothes. And so, well, I kind of buy crap clothes. Lots and lots of stuff from Old Navy. I know you can make the argument one quality piece of clothing will last longer than five crappy pieces of clothing but if I don’t have the money and need something, I don’t really have much of a choice.

  15. I try NOT to pay too much attention to labels. In fact, my daughter chastised me once for being unfashionable when I was pregnant and I explained that I was going for comfort not fashion to which she replied “Well, good thing!” And went on to explain WHY I was unfashionable.

  16. I will skimp on most groceries when it comes to name brands…except mayonnaise. I can’t buy anything except Hellmann’s…there is just no comparison. I don’t always buy designer labels on my clothes because after I shop for the kids, there usually isn’t enough money left over for me to get the good stuff. But every once in awhile, when I do splurge on myself, I love how I feel in those “designer” clothes. They just feel good on and I love how I feel in them.

  17. A designer label slut! I love it. I don’t feel like I’m a materialistic person, but buying good clothes that I feel comfy in and enjoy wearing make me feel…abundant? Is that the right word…not sure exactly, but it’s close. I remember when Guess Jeans were in. You paid $50-60 for the label. And they were fugly. With zippers on the leg sides.

  18. You had me until the end.
    You can buy a size smaller.
    Makes you look 2 sizes smaller.
    Somehow that just does not compute for me.
    It’s not going to change your body size is it? Who is going to know what size it is?
    Reminds me of the old question and answer:
    Do these pants make my butt look big?
    No, your butt makes your butt look big.

    I buy store brands usually, except:
    Potato chips=Lays or Herrs
    Milk – Parmalat, Hot dogs= Sabrett with real casing, Toilet Paper=Scott wrapped in paper, Soup=Campbells

    I buy clothes at Kmart, maybe Kohl’s
    I’m a bit like DirtMan was, I hate having someones name on my stuff.

    that’s all
    Thanks

  19. Name brand stuff was not happening in our house when I was growing up due to the fact as you pointed out that more could be bought for less money without the labels, I do remember in high school I finally saved up enough money to buy myself a pair of Converse All Stars like all the cool kids were wearing, they actually didn’t make me any cooler but I did look good in them Ha Ha

  20. He he, you just brought back a memory of my sister flipping out at being in Kmart for back to school shopping claiming she would die if caught in the store, let alone one of their shirts. My mother would simply turn to me and say, “Jenny, you want her room?” That’s where I get my snark from. Name brand too. :-)

  21. Just buy what you like and what is comfortable. If that means a high end item, buy it, because you like it. The rest does not matter.

    I know what I like, and I embrace it. If fashion were up to me, I would most likley wear only jeans ( Levi’s too), cotton pajamas and socks…Thank Goodness, I don’t set the standard :-)

  22. I used to be…especially when I was in the fashion biz and then as a wedding planner the brides I worked with sort of expected a certain look. However, my time in the fashion biz taught me a lot…the company I worked for made the same jeans for Sears as they did for Pea in the Pod (slightly heavier denim though) and a huge price difference. I like certain things to be certain brands…like my bras and underwear and jeans…but if I find something comparable that is less I’ll try it. I am always willing to try other or store brands of food, but will switch if it is not good.

  23. I have never been fond of ostentatious labeling. I love clothes and fashion, but I do not like things that have huge logos on them. I am not a walking billboard. I also can not stand to pay full price for anything.

    When I was in high school my mother got me a pair of “designer” jeans and I took the label off.

  24. The last clothes I bought were Dickies Biballs and Hanes Boxers and Hanes socks.
    Pretty much if I don’t buy it at Wal-mart or the thrift stores, it doesn’t get bought.

    Grocery store: I am generic on almost everything, but I wont compermise on Dawn dish soap!

  25. I am so not a label person either! If I like it, it fits, and it looks good, I’ll buy it no matter who made it. Just seems really silly to me to put that much emphasis on a label. But, you and I were in high school at the same time and in the same place, and we both know that you HAD to wear certain things. Isn’t it liberating to not have to do that anymore?! I love your posts!

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