is it okay to wear designer clothes to a job interview?

A reader writes:

I am currently employed at my first post-college job, and after two years with my company I am looking for other opportunities in my area. My job has paid fairly well since I started, and I enjoy bargain shopping as a hobby, so I have been able to score name-brand bags and accessories at well below their actual cost. I feel as though these have been investment pieces I’ll keep forever, and they suit my business casual/professional wardrobe and personal style extremely well, but I feel hesitant wearing them or carrying them to interviews. Should I opt to not wear these items or carry my name-brand bags to interviews? The bags I currently own do not have the logos on them in repeated patterns; they’re normally just plain leather in black/brown.

Am I reading too into how I would appear to a potential interviewer or hiring manager? Do they notice things like the brands of my purses or watches? I don’t want to appear like I don’t actually “need” the job because I can afford these things but I also don’t want to alienate my interviewer if that’s what they might be focusing on when they meet me. Do you have any advice for how I should handle my name-brand items?

As long as you don’t have logos splashed all over an item and as long as the items themselves aren’t especially flashy, you should be fine. The “not especially flashy” part is key. You don’t want to be remembered for your watch or your bag; you want to be remembered for how awesome you are at rice sculptures or whatever you’re applying for. But simply the fact that something is designer isn’t in and of itself an issue.

And really, most people you encounter probably won’t even know, although some will.

That said, there are some fields that care about this, in both directions. For example, in fashion and in some parts of finance, dressing the part is a plus. And in, say, social work, expensive clothes can make you look out of touch with clients. But in most fields, it’s not likely to be an issue (and you probably know if you’re in one of the handful of fields where it would be).

{ 349 comments… read them below }

  1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Like Allison said, as long as you aren’t in a handful of industries nobody will notice or care. Especially if you aren’t being obnoxious about it. – don’t go shoving your Louis Vuitton bag or Cartier watch in everyone’s face. They could be gifts for all anyone knows.

    1. BlueWolf*

      Exactly, I have a nice leather purse from Coach that was a gift from my old manager upon leaving my old job. She bought it from Amazon, I think at a good discount. Since it’s just black leather I don’t think it stands out too much. It just has a discrete Coach emblem.

      1. Specialk9*

        I’ve actually had the opposite experience. One client saw that I had several Kate Spade knockoff purses (I just liked the cool shapes, didn’t really care about brand), missed my jokes about carrying “Katya Spada” as acknowledging them as knockoff, and was secretly seething at me for apparently making so much money. She had the poor social graces to say this out loud, and I was able to tell her my true salary, after which she was appalled on my behalf. :D But someone with better social graces just wouldn’t have said anything, and I wouldn’t have known about the weird class envy going on.

        Nowadays I carry a single Coach bag, no purse swapping, and I’m open about getting my purses used from Etsy. And I have a large wardrobe and I’m open about my addiction to eBay. But it would not surprise me if it bothers some people. But I’m pretty senior by now, so it’s not weird for me to have shtuff.

        For a junior person? Mm. Be careful. Class envy and warfare is REAL, and you may get punished for apparent wealth without having any clue why.

        1. Observer*

          And you can just as easily be punished for not having wealth or “class” (however you define that.)

          As long as you are not being ostentatious, it shouldn’t matter in most contexts.

          1. Student*

            It is an actual thing that still holds mostly-women back in job interviews. There is still a real perception among some people that women’s jobs are supplemental income and men’s jobs are how a household is funded. These people assume an already-wealthy woman is not as serious about work as somebody else, and maybe not as deserving or in need of a job (especially a man, but also occasionally a woman who needs an income to support herself).

            I personally have co-workers and a line manager who feel this way about me, even though my income is the same as my spouse’s. They think my income is the optional one, and my husband’s is the important one. Drives me crazy. I ask myself – how is this still happening in 2017?

            1. BTownGirl*

              This is so true! I work in an industry where people are pretty darn well paid and still get comments about my engagement ring. I mean, how can a woman have a large diamond and still care about her career?! Impossible!

              1. Say what, now?*

                Ugh, that’s so gross. I didn’t wear mine because of the same thing. I loved it (still do) but when I was working customer service years ago it was what people focused on.

              2. Legal Beagle*

                So rude that people comment. Ugh. I have a beautiful diamond engagement ring that cost me $0 as it’s a family heirloom. My now-husband and I would not have been able to afford even a modest ring at the time we got engaged. But I don’t wear my ring to job interviews or networking meetings, because people make assumptions and have weird attitudes towards women who are perceived as not needing paid employment.

            2. Optimistic Prime*

              That’s just sexism, though, and those assumptions are often made regardless of the class position of the woman in question.

          2. Kate 2*

            Agree with student. My job requires me to dress nicely, nothing more than business casual, but that’s enough to make me a target for some people! Between the button down shirt, slacks, and lipstick, I’ve gotten crap from a lot of people, including hippies and feminists (Business casual is a sign that I am one with “The Man” and lipstick is a sign that I am one with “The MAN” apparently.)

          3. Specialk9*

            “Class warfare isn’t a thing unless you mean the war on the poor.”

            Uhh… I just gave a clear example of class warfare upward. Let’s review: someone who was in a position of authority and influence over my career, who was seething with anger over her (incorrect) perception that I was wealthy. If you think that couldn’t have hurt my career in a whole number of ways, then I don’t know what to say to you. I still consider it a major bullet dodged that she actually was rude enough to tell me why she was angry at me, and that I was able to defuse the situation by explaining that actually I was poor (way less than she made), with cute fake purses.

            Want another armful of examples of poor people sticking it to the wealthy in a deliberate attempt to hurt them? Go read the Washington Post, we don’t get political here.

            No class warfare, my patoot.

            1. fun fact*

              “Want another armful of examples of poor people sticking it to the wealthy in a deliberate attempt to hurt them? Go read the Washington Post, we don’t get political here.”

              What on earth?

            2. FormerEmployee*

              The difference is that what you are describing is a one-off situation.

              The power is with the wealthy as is evidenced by the current tax bill which, if passed, will eliminate the AMT and estate taxes while essentially being funded by middle class/working people because they will lose various deductions. Depending on the analysis, the people who benefit earn at least $730,000 (or a bit more) and up. Oh, and the bill will wreak such havoc with the debt/deficit that if it passes the result will be that Congress will be forced to cut hundreds of billions from Medicare.

        2. Temperance*

          Oh that’s so, so weird. I just bought a Kate Spade for $20 on eBay. (It’s a wristlet, BUT STILL.) I have noticed that having things that are nice, but not TOO nice, is fine.

          1. Specialk9*

            EBay is chock full of fake designer brands. Just don’t bother. I’ll bet dollars to donuts it’s fake.

            So far Etsy vintage seems ok, but honestly I’m not that into seams and linings to be sure… I just know that years in, the used designer bags from there seem to be holding up, which was never true of knockoff or cheap bags.

        3. Cucumberzucchini*

          I would argue it wasn’t any of her business how much money you make, and I wouldn’t have told her had I been in your situation. It’s not like Kate Spade or Coach purses are anywhere near the cost of a LV.

      2. SignalLost*

        I have four Coach bags. I don’t think any of them has an exterior logo at all, and the most I paid was five bucks at a garage sale. I think it’s too easy to get designer things other than full price for people to worry about it. But that said, I wouldn’t go for anything with more than, say, the linked Chanel C as a closure. Those bags with the logo motif are pretty flashy and I would think the wrong look unless you’re in fashion.

        1. Specialk9*

          If it was $5 at a yard sale, I’m very skeptical they’re real Coach. The used resale is too high.

          1. Us, Too*

            I’ve sold a bunch of designer stuff (that I purchased myself in the branded retail store so I know they are real) at a garage sale. I don’t want to deal with the resale market – I just want it out of my house.

          2. For real tho*

            Coach isn’t even a luxury brand…so I’m not sure anyone needs to be concerned about whether their Coach bags, knockoff or real, are being perceived.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Me too. The ones I’ve seen all tend to look pretty plasticky, so I certainly hope they’re knock-offs.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Me too, especially having lived in Asia, where a fake LV logo bag could be obtained on every market street corner.

          1. Meliza*

            So true! I live in SE Asia now and every time I go visit the closest big city the street markets are filled with people hawking “real designer” goods that somehow manage to cost about $5-6.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        My mom was a US Customs inspector. She had a checklist of how to spot fake LVs. I was in high school and they’d just taken off in popularity – every single one I saw was fake. The most obvious tell was that a real one will cut the leather so the LV in the pattern is never cut off. As any sewer knows, matching up patterned fabric is wasteful so the fakes don’t bother.

        1. michelenyc*

          When I worked for a luxury goods brand way back in the day I went with the NYPD to a warehouse full of fake Gucci, LV, Prada, Chanel, and any other luxury goods brand you can think of. It was amazing to see all those bags and how badly some of them were made.

          1. Jesca*

            This is horrible and THANK GOD i’m most anonymous, but my family and I used to take trips to Canal St every year and see what decent knock offs we could find.

            If you really looked, you could find some really awesome ones, but the places were awful! Definitely sweat-shoppish places.

            As far as the OP goes, less is always more in an interview and in business dress as a whole.

            1. Grapey*

              I was shopping with a very brand conscious friend there and she asked about Coach bags. Every place walked us into the back like it was some kind of shady deal and still charged like $125.

              Apparently one of them was super good because my friend went like “oooooh, this one is spot on.” and bought it. I was like “I’m ok with my $10 kmart bag, thanks”

            2. The Other Katie*

              There’s actually a hierarchy of counterfeit bags (and clothes, but more common with bags). The ones you buy for $20 at a street market are typically just made any old way and may not even be modelled on a real one, but then you get the ones that are more expensive and better made. These are sometimes indistinguishable from real ones because they’re made on a “ghost shift” overnight at the factory where the real ones are produced.

            3. Optimistic Prime*

              I had a friend in New York who shopped on Canal St. enough that she knew the deal and the owners…one time I was with her when she went to a shop to get some knockoff bags, where they take you into the back rooms. She turned to the guide that brings you there and said “No, show me the good stuff.” Turns out there is a second level of back room where the knock offs are higher quality but also more expensive.

        2. AJHall*

          The tell on poor Gucci bags when I was spotting them back in the late 80s/early 90s was a rivet rather than a sewn in strap. But linings are always a giveaway, too.

  2. M*

    I think more people than you realize won’t even notice that the item is designer, unless as Alison said it is particularly flashy or unusual. I can’t pick out a designer bag from a Target bag unless there is an actual logo on it, and even then I can’t identify most designer logos. I wouldn’t think twice about this.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m exactly the same. To me, designer stuff and off-brand stuff look exactly the same to me.

      1. Specialk9*

        I see online scandalized comments about food bank and welfare recipients carrying iPhones and such… Though I’m aware there is a heavy dose of politically motivated racism and classism at play there. But it’s very much a trend.

        1. tigerlily*

          I don’t want to get too far off topic, but those comments absolutely enrage me. And I felt there was a good few comments veering into that territory on yesterday’s post about GoFundMe – so much so I had to quite reading, or I was going to get upset. I hate the performed poverty people in need are so often forced to go through.

          1. Specialk9*

            I agree about the anger – there’s so much envy and pulling people down rather than helping each other up. I wish US culture didn’t at the base believe that poverty is sin, and deserved. It’s very destructive and awful.

    2. KarenT*

      And the flip side of that is I totally can, but also couldn’t care less.

      It would never, ever, factor into my hiring decision but I would most likely notice. I would also never draw the conclusion that someone with a designer bag didn’t need a job. Having a few nice things doesn’t lead me to that conclusion–loads of people shop second hand or receive things as gifts.
      I’m also not looking for the someone who needs the job the most. If you apply, I assume you want it.

      All this to say, OP, you have nothing to worry about.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        My sister in law has a very high end designer bag and works a fairly low-wage job. She’s passionate about fashion, and about this designer in particular, so her entire large extended family chipped in to get her the bag as a graduation gift.

        I’m fair to middling at spotting certain designer items but I never judge people based on them. It could be a gift, or a good fake, or they got it on super good sale (I know what time of year my favorite obscure designer liquidates all her super old stock at 60-70% off), or it’s their one favorite designer and they save up all year to buy one nice thing.

        Or maybe they’re loaded, or their spouse or parents are, but unless they’re going around insisting we let people eat cake I’m not fussed.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          All of my designer stuff, especially the premium brands, come from consignment shops. ThredUp and The RealReal have become my source for cute, affordable designer purses, shoes, tops, outerwear, and sunglasses. The stuff is cheap and in really good shape – everything I own looks brand new. People will comment on what I’m wearing and say I look expensive, but I laugh – my wardrobe is actually very cheap considering.

          1. Specialk9*

            ThredUp is also great for closet purges or those items that don’t quite look right but you don’t want to waste them. They send a “clean out bag” that you can fill and either get a small amount of money back, or donate to charity. Works for me!

      2. Specialk9*

        I notice and can tell if something is real, or at least a good knockoff, but I would never be gauche enough to say something, and I derive no judgment on worth from name brand. (Unless you’re super frugal, in which case I’ll be impressed.)

        But I knew a woman who complimented me on my (knockoff) bag, asked to see it (‘uh, sure?’) then loudly told me it was a really good knockoff, and walked me through the details on stitching and lining that gave me away. In public, at a party.

        I’m not sure what her goal was, but I mentally gave her -1,000 materialistic points, and subtracted another -3,000 kindness and social graces points.

        1. Temperance*

          Wow. Please tell me that you followed it up with a comment about her cheap clothing or something. Please.

          1. Specialk9*

            She came from a country known for widespread conspicuous consumption, so I kinda rolled my eyes mentally and pegged her as “not my kinda people but nice to chat with occasionally in passing, but don’t show her your purse.”

        2. Not So NewReader*

          “So you are saying the $4 I paid for this was worth every penny, right?”

          What a bore that woman was.

        3. Close Bracket*

          I would do something like that bc I would be fascinated by the planning and execution that went into creating a good knock off. Of course, I’m an aspie, so my social graces start at -1,000,000. -3,000 is background noise to me.

      3. (Different) Rebecca*

        It depends. I wear Fluevogs, and only Fluevogs, because of a combination of weird allergies, a genuine love of the product, and the fact that I wear through shoes at an alarming rate and they’ve stood the test of me beating them up. They get recognized all the time. Like ALL the time.

        1. crookedfinger*

          I would have so many Fluevogs if my budget allowed and I could stand wearing heels (all the most adorable ones seem to be heels, damnit). They’re very unique and memorable, though. I would definitely notice if someone was wearing them.

          1. Emmylou*

            Another fluevog devotee here. I have about 14 pairs — about one pair a year for over 10 years. They cost but they last forever and they are the best work shoes. I do simple nondescript clothes and great shoes/ boots. I assume no one judges me but who knows?

          2. Specialk9*

            I assume that if someone is wearing Fluevogs, that I love them deeply already based on that alone. You love fashion, are quirky/ offbeat but still stylish, and know unstinting quality? Yeah we’re good, no need to tell me more. Oh but what’s your name, new BFF?

            1. (Different) Rebecca*

              I was lucky enough to get two pairs of the Queen Transcendent style before they stopped making that heel and broke my heart forever. Now I cherish them to the extent of repairing minor chips in the heels with matching colored nail polish because THEY ARE MY BABIES.

          3. IrishUp*

            Another Vogger here. Yes to the unique and stand up to wear and all that! I am thankfully at an age and stage and seniority in my career that I have the luxury of not having to GAF about who might judge my shoes, but I do want to note that there are a wide variety of styles and heel-heights, and the Angel line in particular is meant to be unisex .

            For the budget concerns; I have had very good luck on Ebay, and I am not a particularly easy shoe size. Because both the uppers and lowers are well made (Fluevogs are hand made & at living wages), second hand shoes are almost always in terrific condition. FV is reasonably priced for replacing the soles, if needed.

        2. Specialk9*

          I adore Fluevogs. I won’t afford them, and frankly I never wear heels these days so wouldn’t wear them, but le sigh I love them.

          1. SarahKay*

            Yeah, someone did that to me about five years ago. You have my sympathy. but not my Fluevogs, for they are mine ;-)

        3. Elemeno P.*

          Expensive, durable shoes make so much sense to me! I have pretty expensive (non-designer) shoes because my feet are dumb and require orthotics, which most shoes can’t accommodate.

      4. Optimistic Prime*

        Yeah, I can tell, but that’s because I love fashion and if I’m looking at it it’ll simply be to admire it (silently, to myself) and move on.

    3. nnn*

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. It would be interesting to know how many people who think designer clothes make you look out of touch could even recognize designer clothes.

      Personally, I can only recognize clothes from one particular designer that I have enough brand loyalty to that I make a point of looking through their catalogue each season (although can’t afford to buy anything most seasons). The rest of my few designer pieces are from Winner’s and I wouldn’t recognize other clothes by the same designers, but most of my clothes are from generic mall stores.

      1. LavaLamp*

        I have a lot of designer/high end clothing because I’m really really skinny. My mom’s friends will closet clean and give me stuff that doesn’t fit them anymore. Got an adorable leather blazer that way, and a pair of jeans I literally wore to rags in middle/high school.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          This is why I don’t wear designer clothes– I’m too big for good consignment! I’m just out of the higher range for most designers I like. I have been gifted a few good accessories though.

          1. Specialk9*

            Have you tried Talbots? They have very generous sizing (like cut 2-4 sizes bigger than the same size elsewhere) and they do plus sizes. I tried on a bunch of things at a store, figured my sizes in different types of garments (blazer, shirt, dress, pants) and made eBay alerts for those items in my size.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Am chuckling. My friend comes from a wealthy area. One concern there is that you might be wearing LAST YEAR’S designer item. Apparently people know the designer and know the year.
        Not my thing, but some people get into it.

    4. Fortitude Jones*

      I think more people than you realize won’t even notice that the item is designer, unless as Alison said it is particularly flashy or unusual.

      This. I wear designer clothes, shoes, and handbags, and unless it’s a bag or shoe that everyone and their mother has seen before on TV or on a famous person (which is rare), no one knows unless they ask where I got it. In fact, on Halloween, I had an interview where I was in head-to-toe designer (Ralph Lauren sweater dress, Lanvin black leather wedges, and DKNY quilted purse) gear, and no one commented except to say that my dress was pretty.

    5. many bells down*

      I’ll notice the stuff I like – I adore Kate Spade, so I notice those. And if something’s really well-tailored I might assume it’s expensive. But most other stuff just doesn’t register.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Tailoring makes a world of difference. I just bought a bunch of blazers, less than $20 each from thredUp, and had the sleeves shortened and one taken in – everybody thinks I spent a fortune on them. Only one of them was a $300 blazer prior to being put up for resale. I tailor just about everything now.

        1. Specialk9*

          Oh yeah. Missus Smarty Pants – my style guru – says that tailoring is the key to looking chic.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Tailoring makes my five plus years old clothes look brand new. My tailor and her son even complimented me by saying I know how to buy because the fabrics I choose are nice – combined with their amazing work, I come out looking like I just stepped off a runway. My clothes look like they were made especially for me. I love that.

    6. Cris*

      I bought my first designer bag this year as a paid-off-my-student-loans gift to myself, and was soooo proud of how obviously fancy it was. Then my friend, who lives in NYC and is pretty fashion conscious goes “cute bag, is that from Target?” I died a little inside. So yeah, most people won’t notice.

  3. DataQueen*

    Alison is right on about it varying by field – my first job out of college was as a consultant working with non-profit clients. We were explicitly told that we couldn’t wear large diamonds, carry designer bags, wear burberry plaid – that kind of stuff – our billable rates exceeded $300/hr and it wasn’t a great message to the clients to have obviously expensive clothing. However, on the fundraising side, the fundraisers working with major gift donors ‘dressed the part’ and wore the same clothes and labels the major gift donors do.

    For me, when it comes to interview clothes, however, as long as the suit looks tailored, it’s going to look polished and professional, and it won’t matter if it costs $100 or $3000. My favorite interview jacket happens to be Chanel and I found it at a consignment shop for .01% of what it should cost. But no one would be able to tell the difference between that and a nice blazer from Banana Republic – the most important thing is fit.

    1. fposte*

      My life has fortunately prevented me from committing the faux pas of inappropriately wearing large diamonds.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          What made me laugh is that Burberry plaid is considered cheap looking and not stylish in England.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I’m kind of glad my life has prevented me from ever owning large diamonds because I lose jewelry CONSTANTLY. Losing a mega-expensive jewelry item is an experience I am happy to skip.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I can’t afford the body guard to go with the ring, so I just skip it.

        I had a friend whose SO gave her a pair of 5K earrings. He wanted her to actually use the earrings. She did. And she lost one. This involved tears and shaking. This is one of a surprising number of times I have gone through garbage looking for someone’s jewelry while they cried. ugh.

    2. LadyKelvin*

      You comment is also a good example of how it varies by person/upbringing. In my (socioeconomic) world there is literally no difference between Chanel and Banana Republic, both are ridiculously expensive and out of reach, therefore “designer” and most of my work clothes have come from Ross/TJMaxx/Marshalls because Target blazers do look cheap.

      1. Delta Delta*

        My BEST blazer I ever bought was from Target. It was when Isaac Mizrahi had a line there. I wish I’d’ve bought two of them. Of course, that’s going on 10-12 years ago.

          1. Specialk9*

            I miss Isaac Mizrahi for target. Still selling – I see his stuff on eBay so presumably available somewhere.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I’m still rationing out wears of a dress I got at Target at least 10 years ago, not even any special line, just Merona, but the fanciest person I ever worked for complimented me every time I wore it!

          1. Delta Delta*

            My best ever dress is cotton t-shirt material and made by Patagonia. I have long-since passed the “rationing wears” phase, as it has actual HOLES in it. I love that dress so much. And I got it on sale for something like $29, which made it even better! It’s kind of funny what ends up being the best pieces in our wardrobes. It’s all about fit.

          2. Rebecca in Dallas*

            Isn’t that funny? I have a favorite winter coat that I wear, I got it for like $30 at a low-end department store. It’s a cute fit and bright color. My mom and I were in NYC and I wore my cheap coat with a pair of expensive (for me) boots that my mom had gotten me as a gift, she knew I had been eyeing them for months. No kidding, at least 4 people stopped me to tell me how cute my coat was, nobody commented on the boots that cost 10x as much!

      2. AnonForNow*

        Yep, in my area Burberry plaid still has precisely the opposite reputation and anyone wearing it at work would be judged as naive at best and possibly criminal at worse. This is despite the fad being over a at least decade ago, but sadly it still has a lot of negative connotations in industries that are very slow moving. A staff member who usually wore other brands was spoken to very seriously for wearing an expensive Burberry scarf, upper management saw it as on the same level as wearing football regalia

          1. mj stough*

            In the UK, this plaid (and others from high end fashion brands) has been weirdly co-opted by white supremacist groups.

            1. Specialk9*

              No way. (goggles) Burberry as chavs and white supremacists?!

              I walked through a crazy high end US mall – Jimmy Choo etc – and Burberry had a really nice window display. I had no idea it had that association there.

          2. Immy*

            Not unethical but in the UK it has an association with football hooliganism. I mean it might be unethical but that isn’t why it might get some side eye

        1. Susanne*

          I have a Cartier tank watch. Black leather band, beige face. I wear it most days and it goes with jeans and dress clothes. I am curious how one “shoves a watch” into someone else’s face. Not directing this at Wannabe above, but I find that there are people who see other people going about their business wearing/carrying/driving (luxury item) and conclude that it’s being “shoved in their faces” when it’s just being used as it’s meant to be used.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            There are people who just go about their business, and there are people who make sure you know what they have.

            “Oooh, sorry, I didn’t hear you. I was trying to wind my watch. These damn Cartiers are so finicky.”

            “That’s a nice watch. It reminds me a little of my Cartier. You can tell that’s the style they were going after.”

            “Oh, an Apple watch? Cute. I mean, I prefer the classics {waves Cartier at you} but I know some people like to have the newest thing.”

            1. Oxford Comma*

              “It’s an actual Hermes scarf. It came with the booklet that explains the 109 different ways to wear it.”

              “I had to stop my youngest daughter from hugging me because I’m wearing my Hermes scarf. Can’t let her get her grubby hands on it.”

              “Oh, that’s cute. I have an Hermes scarf that looks like that.”

              Don’t do that and you’ll be fine.

            2. Engineer Woman*

              I’m horrible at thinking up responses on the spot but afterwards think: why didn’t I say…

              “Oooh, sorry, I didn’t hear you. I was trying to wind my watch. These damn Cartiers are so finicky.”
              Reply- “I know, right? I’m so glad I replaced my old watch with this battery operated one from Walmart! No more waste of time winding for me”

              “That’s a nice watch. It reminds me a little of my Cartier. You can tell that’s the style they were going after.”
              Reply- “It also reminds me a little of this watch I got for $4 at the Dollar store! Wow – don’t all watches look alike these days?”

              “Oh, an Apple watch? Cute. I mean, I prefer the classics {waves Cartier at you} but I know some people like to have the newest thing.”
              Reply- “Oh, yeah, I know. Those Apple watches are expensive! I prefer the classics too {wave watch back} I’ve been loving this baby from Target for ages”

          2. ClownBaby*

            My brother went a little crazy when he became successful. He bought a watch encrusted with about $8000 of diamonds. He would wait for someone to ask about it and then he’d go into a long tangent about how much money it cost. Luckily he works only with the very wealthy, so they are probably used to it…maybe it’s even expected.

            I have some pretty modest David Yurman jewelry…if someone compliments it, I just leave it at “Thank you.”

            He still has the watch…but he saves it for special occasions now…however he drives his Aston Martin to the most casual events and makes fun of my Camry. :(

            People who like to brag will find ways to shove their success in other people’s faces. At the same time, people looking for something to be envious of will often find ways to demonize the person for owning the item.

          3. Temperance*

            I wear a Tiffany ring every day. It doesn’t scream “Tiffany”, like those lockets that say RETURN TO TIFFANY do.

            I think the over-logo’d stuff looks cheap and screams LOOK AT ME I LIKE BRANDS. A Cartier watch can be similar. Yours seems tasteful, and not overly blinged out.

            1. Had Matter's Pea Tarty*

              >RETURN TO TIFFANY

              “Oh, is that your girlfriend? Hmm? Oh, I thought it was a restaurant… You know, you get breakfast there?”

            2. Erin*

              + 1 I hate logos. why would I want to walk around with someone else’s name on me? Honestly I think walking around looking like a billboard looks unprofessional. Just go for a look polished an tailored look and if your logo is obvious I’d leave it at home for the day. If it’s a small logo on the buttons of your coat I think it’s fine. But if it’s easily read like the number on a sports jersey it looks sloppy.

              1. Susanne*

                I don’t know why there is an assumption that designer clothing equals having a (conspicuous) logo. I frequent an upscale resale shop and bought a Derek Lam top and a Theory jacket last week. They’re designer but there is no logo. The logos-all-over tend to be moderate-range designer, not high-end.

                1. Thyme*

                  There’s an interesting divide that maybe isn’t too relevant, but there’s certainly an aspirational angle that some companies go for (up market and down market), where the reason the item is bought is to show off, so it’s conspicuously labelled as X brand. Lots of professional norms in the US don’t like that kind of ostentatiousness.

      3. Emi.*

        Yeah, Banana Republic is also a fancy brand in my world. I grew up thinking that Macy’s was the fanciest store in existence.

      4. Aurion*

        Yeah, this. I’m lucky that my workplace doesn’t put emphasis on business clothes, because man, the price tags! Banana Republic prices already seem ridiculously high to me. I can’t imagine the price tags on Chanel/Hermes/etc.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          The prices on all of that stuff, but especially Chanel and H, makes me gag. Never would I pay full price for any of it. Thrift and consignment stores are my friends when it comes to this stuff (and even consignment Chanel and Hermes is too expensive for my budget).

      5. EOA*

        At least around here, TJ Maxx/Marshall’s actually sells a lot of designer stuff. Most of my work dresses come from Marshall’s, and a lot of them are designer brands.

      6. Alisa*

        Banana Republic doen’t have to be out of reach! The best clothes from there, in like-new condition, are usually easy to find at your local Goodwill shop, for half the price of clothes at Target or Walmart. My mom taught us to wear the best quality you can afford—and it doesn’t have to be new off the rack. I encourage people to shop this way when money’s tight, and never comprise on style or quality.

        1. Specialk9*

          Yeah, I couldn’t/wouldn’t afford BRepub clothes at full price, but they and Talbots are clothes makers I will happily buy on eBay. Used, they still hold up quality wise.

        2. NaoNao*

          I will just interject that as a shopper and re-seller, the Goodwill and other thrift stores can be very hit or miss for most. I *strongly* advocate shopping there, but with these things in mind:

          The bulk of the clothing is either true vintage from someone who recently left this earth’s personal collection OR
          Fast fashion that was worn once/twice and is falling apart

          Plus or cusp sizes can be hard to find. If you’re a 0-12, you’re in the money. Anything bigger can be a challenge

          You really need to know your size, style, and your wardrobe. My sister for example enters the store and has a meltdown—it can be very unorganized, hectic, frantic, and just…not a soothing experience. Wrongly-sized clothing (XXL in the S) is frequent, so you have to go garment by garment on every rack.

          Examine the item closely. Many times you buy that BR piece, get it home and then realize *exactly* why it was donated. The moth holes. The missing button. The weird stain that’s only visible in certain lights. The bad fit that can’t be corrected.

          Goodwill and other shops have become a bit more wise to brand names, and often price accordingly. The days of a 2.99 real-leather jacket are pretty much over. It’s affordable, but frankly I’d say it’s on par with Target or W-Mart, especially if shopping in the latter’s sale racks. But it *is* better quality, if you know your brands.

          Knowing what makes a quality garment is really helpful. Construction, fit, notions and finishes, and fabric are all key in making a garment high quality.

          I am a HUGE THRIFT NERD and can talk about this all day, as you can probably tell :)

          1. michelenyc*

            There is a Goodwill in Chelsea that gets lots of luxury good brands they display in the window for 30 days. There is a sign in the window that tells everyone what day the items from the display will go on sale and people line up at least 3 hours before they open just to get them.

          2. Anxa*

            Must be so regional!

            In my area most of the thrift store racks resemble the clearance racks. Chock full of XS and XL, XLL, ut rarely anything between small and large.

          3. many bells down*

            The Value Village by my old house was in a pretty expensive neighborhood, so unless it was a *really* high-end item, it would just go on the racks. More designer stuff than you could shake a stick at in there.

          4. Had Matter's Pea Tarty*

            In my area, it’s hideous florals, polo shirts, and dead old people’s Sunday best.

          5. Kate 2*

            Sadly in my area thrifting has become super huge, and now things like a no-name plain t-shirt cost as much as or more than they do new. You can’t get anything decent for less than in stores here.

          6. Jessen*

            Honestly the “missing button” type pieces have been my best bets at goodwill. Pieces that are missing a button or two, or the zipper needs a few extra stitches, that sort of thing that just needs 5min with a sewing needle.

        3. Roma*

          Banana Republic also has a sale basically all the time. At this time of year especially, it’s almost always extra 40 or 50% off clearance. Right at this moment, they have 40% off the entire store online, with an extra 10% off women’s styles. I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $20 for something there. Sometimes Target is more expensive.

          I thrift a lot because I enjoy finding unique pieces, but I would do fine just shopping sales. I think there are very few mall brands that are out of reach even with a limited budget if you’re good at waiting for sales. Waiting for an extra % off already reduced prices is key to getting the best deals. I remember there were some brands I used to think were SO expensive until I realized how low prices go in the sale section.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            I can’t wait for sales because I’m a very common size in clothes and shoes, so everything good is gone by the time I get around to a sale. That’s why I just consign/thrift and call it a day.

          2. Erin*

            I’ve had good luck at banana republic in the past. We have an outlet and I can get dress shirts a reasonable price. I bought my black suit there about 4 1/2 years ago and paid $120 for pants jacket and skirt. But they’ve changed their style of pants so their cropped and a tapered style which looks terrible on me.

    3. Willow*

      To be honest if I saw someone wearing”large diamonds” I would assume they were fake unless told otherwise.

      1. New hiring manager*

        Well, and not all diamonds are created equally. I’m a bit of a diamond nerd (not in that I own lots of them, just that I know a lot about them), and most of the time, when someone has a huge diamond, it’s super low-quality and probably didn’t cost all that much.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      Mm, I worked with at-risk young people and used to pick them up at home. Many were from families with serious money problems. It would have been really tone-deaf to show up with branded stuff. I mean, I got it from a an outlet store but that wasn’t really the point.

      1. paul*

        Yeah, that is understandable; I wouldn’t wear Tom Ford to meet with a client either (I mean, I can’t afford that anyway but even if I could). But most of the time I can’t really imagine that it matters that much. Maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part though.

    5. Chalupa Batman*

      Agree, the only thing that would make me notice is either a) I really like the item or it’s unusual or b) it’s way out of place with the norms of the position. My husband got me a pair of nice diamond earrings and matching necklace for Christmas one year, much nicer than most of the jewelry I wear (I don’t typically wear much, so I just don’t buy myself expensive jewelry). They were so pretty and new, so I wore them to work one day. At the unemployment office. Oops. No one said anything, but when I realized it, I was mortified at how insensitive it must have looked to be dripping in diamonds while assisting people who were out of work. They’re firmly in the special occasion category now.

  4. Smithy*

    While I agree with AAM and most of the comments that it’s more important how noticeable things are vs being luxury brands – it may also be worthwhile to get some outside opinions. When we’re into collecting items – be it appearal or something else, we can often be hypersensitive to certain visual markers that others aren’t. Or become desensitized to things that do stand out.

    But around luxury good items in general – so many brands also have discount lines or are available at places like Nordstrom Rack that knowing which ones cover many price points like Calvin Klein vs Hermès that does not….that I think in general you’re probably going to be ok.

    1. Mike C.*

      It’s funny, I was at a car show this weekend, and you see the exact same thing! You have BMW and Audi breaking into the lower luxury markets, and I saw Porsches that were more expensive than McLarens. Things are all over the place these days.

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      Exactly this! I used to wonder why I certain brand of purse always came up for sale on the local buy/sell/trade groups. They were always new or barely used for 50-75% of the tag price. Then I went to the outlet mall in Las Vegas. I scored a very good deal on a new purse and wallet.

  5. Kiki*

    Like the LW, I love bargain hunting, especially thrift shopping. Most of my clothing items and shoes are from designer brands, but I paid mall store prices for them. When I interviewed at my current job (school), this was definitely noticed. It didn’t impact my ability to get the job, but my coworkers were asking me questions about it within my first few days, and I did feel a little judged. Funny enough, when I told them about my thrifting hobby, they judged me in the other direction! But I don’t think it’s harmed my relationships too much.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      I have mad respect for people with thrift store skills. I’m *horrible* at thrift shopping, I never find anything nice that’s in my size and not a horrible color I hate. A friend of mine can barely walk through a thrift store or a Nordstrom Rack without finding some gorgeous expensive-brand item she loves for 90% off.

        1. Roma*

          Weird but true. I dropped a size and don’t have nearly as much luck as I used to when I wore size 8. It’s the magic number for deals.

  6. ClownBaby*

    Thanks to a ThredUp post Alison has a few weeks back, the amount of designer clothing in my closet has tripled…I’ll get boots, dresses, skirts for a fraction of the price of non-name brand clothing…I’ve never even considered that I may be coming off as a bit “hoity-toity”…really I just love finding a good bargain. Without flashy logos though, unless someone is a fashion expert, they probably can’t tell my Kate Spade or Diane Von Furstenburg dresses apart from my Kohl’s 80%-off rack dresses. I think you’re totally fine OP.

        1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

          Yeah, when I was reading the reviews online before ordering I saw that it’s apparently a much, much better deal for the buyers than the sellers.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Be careful on that site – they will end up getting all of your money. I speak from experience, lol.

    1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      AAM turned me on the ThredUP too a couple of months ago, and I went from Payless/Target shoes to Ralph Lauren and Etienne Aigner and the most I’ve paid is around $35. I’ve gotten designer tops, skirts, dresses and sweaters, sometimes with the tags still on for anywhere from $20-40, and just recently picked up a London Fog shoulder bag for $16. I’ve been getting so many compliments at work on my new outfits and just this morning my boss recognized my Karen Kane blouse by sight (she used to work for a high-end department store chain). I rave to everyone about ThredUP, and I’m forever grateful to Ailison for the plug!

      1. Susanne*

        ThredUp is useful, but Etienne Aigner is not designer and never was. Ralph Lauren lower-end is not designer either and hasn’t been for years. Not when you can but RL polos at Costco.

        1. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

          Well since my shoes are now made out of leather and not whatever synthetic crap that wore out within a year I’m feeling way one up on Payless, but thank you for your opinion.

        2. Circus peanuts*

          When you think about it, everything is designer. No one goes out in the forest or fields and finds clothes. Someone has to decide what fabric to use, how to cut it, etc. And the Eitienne and Ralph lines represent a certain polished aesthetic for work, imo.

        3. NaoNao*

          I think what the poster means by “designer” is that it’s a recognized and higher quality brand with a single name on it.
          Many people use “designer” to mean haute couture or those that have a fashion show at NYC Fashion Week. But to some, it means “department store or above quality”.

          Let other people have their fun, geez.

  7. Boredatwork*

    The context here is very important and the relative value of the items. “normal” luxury products are totally fine. In my region, it’s very common to see Louis Vuitton, Prada, ect in the finance sectors/downtown job market, however the more industry jobs (located rurally), kate spade, coach, ect are more common.

    If there are no visible labels, you can essentially do what you want. No one will know and if asked just say it was a gift. The exception being very expensive and noticeable items (think birken bag and louboutin heels) which do not have labels but scream expensive, in a noticeable distracting way.

    1. LawBee*

      For example: I had no idea Kate Spade/Coach weren’t at the same level as Louis Vuitton or Prada.

      OP, you’re fine. :)

      1. Nila*

        These days brands like Coach and Michael Kors are seen as tacky by people who know fashion. They’re more like suburban fashion than high-end fashion.

        1. Kiki*

          Coach has kinda been on the up-and-up the past few years. They became very aware of their “suburban fashion” status and are trying to turn themselves around. I was at the 5th Ave Coach store this summer and was pleasantly surprised with some of their new stuff.

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          And the funny thing is, Michael Kors just bought Jimmy Choo. So brand snobs will be in a tizzy soon not knowing what to judge.

          1. KL*

            I’ve found Michael Kors watches at the Fossil outlet near my office. I love Fossil watches, but I hate that I can’t change the battery in them. :/

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              Fossil has really nice bags – every time I try to get one from thredUp, however, it’s sold out! Grrr…

    2. LawLady*

      I think this comment gets at the important distinction. Are these designer goods or LUXURY goods? A Coach bag isn’t going to register for anyone in most contexts. But enough people would recognize a Birkin ($10,000-$30,000) or Louboutins ($600-$1500). And I would definitely remember if a candidate showed up with a Birkin bag. (I would try not to attach any judgments, but it’s definitely something I’d notice, which you don’t want in an interview.)

      1. fposte*

        Yes, that’s a really good differentiation. “Designer” pretty much just means “brand name”; it doesn’t signify much about price point these days.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I had a whole paragraph about this originally that I took out! I was going to argue that I don’t think brands like Coach are really designer anymore in the sense that it was traditionally meant. When I think designer now, I think brands like Dolce and Gabbana or Fendi, not Coach, Kate Spade, etc. We need better terminology! (Or maybe there already is better terminology and I just don’t know it.)

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              And then you have designers who cross over into luxury, like Ralph Lauren, so then you have to get specific as to what label you’re referring to.

            2. Lobbyist*

              On the web site/blog Corporette, there was a whole thing about the intern who wore a Birkin bag. Summary: not a good idea.

          1. K, Esq.*

            This. If you can find it at the outlet mall, it’s probably not “designer” in the old sense. That being said, I adore my leather Coach purse. I paid $350 3 years ago at the outlets, and it still looks new.

          2. Boredatwork*

            I am so flattered you agreed with me! I recently had a training at work and I used a lot of what I’ve read here and the presenter said I should teach the class!

          3. sam*

            yeah – there was a thread a while back from someone who was getting criticized by a co-worker for carrying a (I think) Michael Kors purse that she had saved up for. I mean, he makes nice things, and he’s a “designer”, but…I can find Michael Kors stuff at my local TJ Maxx. There’s a vast gulf between that and a Birkin bag.

            I work in a field where plenty of people wear/carry designer goods. I don’t – I generally don’t find it useful (for myself) to spend money on those things (I’m also plus-sized, so designer clothes are generally not in my…range…in other ways). But my parents think I’m ridiculous because I own two computers and ridiculous camera equipment – so we each have our “things” that we spend money on.

        2. Specialk9*

          “Are these designer goods or LUXURY goods? A Coach bag isn’t going to register for anyone in most contexts.”

          As I posted above, my co-worker registered my apparently designer bag, and resented my whole being and existence.

          Don’t forget how many people spend $0.5-5 on articles of clothing. A $300 bag will absolutely register with some people as crazy luxury.

          With others, it’ll be seen as tacky cheap. So being aware of potential is wise. I applaud the OP for being aware of the potential.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            Years ago there was an episode of Hoarders (one of the hoarding shows anyhow). The organizer/therapist guy unearthed about $800 in gift certificates for Macy’s. The homeowner kept on saying, “I don’t shop at Macy’s because I can’t afford to shop there.” Ignoring the obvious mental disconnect about the $800 in gift certificates, that definitely is a mentality. It’s how stores like Wal*Mart and Target do as well as they do.

      2. Smithy*

        I think that Louboutins are a fascinating example in that they are disctinctly luxury goods that do not have a range of price points, the heels with the red bottoms are highly identifiable, and many of the heels are in that “are they too high for work” range. Personally, I so identify Louboutins as being “high high heels”, that even a shorter heel height could register as very high for me.

        With luxury goods, I think that how noticeable things are needs to be remembered. Some items are noticeable because of collar or unusual cut, but I don’t think anyone would be actively helped in many interviews if a take away was “wow, is that a Birkin.”

        1. Buffy*

          My boss thought I was wearing Louboutins and made a joke about me being “super rich”. (They were actually shoes I found on clearance at TJ Maxx with a *pink* sole, not a red one.) Wasn’t sure what to do in that moment, don’t think he believed me!

        2. Close Bracket*

          The thrift store I shop at got a donation of several pairs of high-end heels, including some Louboutins. They were high heels, but not that much higher than other high heel brands, and they were classic styles, nothing trendy. They were going for $15. Sadly, they weren’t my size.

      3. Kiki*

        A few years ago I scored a pair of black Louboutin heels for $100 at a consignment shop, but I’m really hesitant to wear them in a work context because I’m afraid people might notice the soles. I’m contemplating wearing them to the office holiday party this year (they go well with my dress) but am not entirely confident in doing so.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I don’t know why not. If any comments you can say “I know, I can’t believe I got them for less than a hundred bucks!”

        2. Mike C.*

          I have a rule for my cars and my fountain pens – no garage queens. If I buy something, I’m going to use it and accept that someone might be a jerk or it might get scratched or wear out.

          What’s the point of buying something if you can’t enjoy it?

          1. K, Esq.*

            My grandma was like that – she used her silver and bone china every day because otherwise, what was the point? I miss her.

            1. Marillenbaum*

              I love that! My mom is the same way. On the flip side, there was my childhood babysitter, who had a guest dining room that was always set–but even when they had guests, they all ate in the kitchen! If the things you have are too nice for the people you spend time with, I think there’s a problem.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Many years ago I had a shiny new all-wheel-drive SUV. Mr. Shackelford had to go out on an icy day and didn’t want to take it, for fear of wrecking it. I said “That’s why I bought it. I’m interested in protecting my family, not my damn car.”

            (And yes, I use my fountain pen in meetings!)

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                I know nothing at all about my brand (Lamy?) but it was a gift and it’s a beautiful slightly-tealish blue and I love it. It’s probably not even the Coach or Kate Spade of fountain pens. It’s probably the German version of a Target pen. ;-)

              2. Just Another Techie*

                My pen collector friends think I’m nuts for keeping my vintage Conklin at work for daily use, and I’m like “But I do 90% of my writing on the job. If I want to enjoy this nib and this pen, work is the best place to use it!” (I do lock it in my desk drawer when I’m not writing though, because I have too many coworkers who don’t know how to treat a flexy nib and who will borrow whatever writing implement is closest at hand rather than walk back to their desk for their own)

              3. learningToCode*

                Oh man, I want the Galaxy VP someday, but I worry about the feel of it to a leftie since the clip would be in the way.

                Aurora Duo Cart is my current nice pen, but I need to re-ink it since their ink is super wet.

          3. Andraste's Knicker Weasels (formerly ancolie)*

            I have a Vanishing Point, too (branded Namiki; I think they’re part of Pilot now). Mine is silver and black carbon fiber. I want to get an extra fine nib made for it, because I write incredibly small.

        3. Daffodil*

          Wear them to the party! Life is too short to not wear the amazing shoes. And concerns about wearing designer clothing is mostly for first impressions. If these are people who already know you and know you’re not a snob, they’ll interpret the shoes in that context.

        4. Smithy*

          I think that these recommendations change when you’re already working somewhere. I don’t think lots of people would recommend wearing a red skirt for most interviews – but to an average day at the office, no problem.

          I think Louboutins at an office party sounds absolutely fine. What always triggers Louboutins for me is typically that they can be in that 4-5 inch heel range which can feel high.

          I will say, I also have another bias because I once worked with a woman who wore 4-5in black Louboutins to work with black fishnets and a tight pencil skirt to work on occasion….so that is a workplace visual forever seared into my head of “maybe not that”.

          1. Kj*

            Agreed! I wear funky socks (today, they feature a raccoon eating a donut) most days (I work with kids, so it is a way to appeal to them). I would not wear them to an interview as I am a professional, but I don’t hesitate to wear them to work daily.

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        A Coach bag isn’t going to register for anyone in most contexts. But enough people would recognize a Birkin ($10,000-$30,000) or Louboutins ($600-$1500).

        You might be surprised. For many populations, it’s going to be exactly the opposite. My MIL has heard of Coach, because it’s “department store luxury,” and she considers my Coach bag frivolously spendy (it’s from the outlet, and it was on sale for less than $150, but as far as she’s concerned, it says Coach so it’s “luxury”). She would never recognize a Birken or Louboutins because she hasn’t seen them at Dillards and she’s simply not exposed to that kind of stuff. Most people aren’t.

        (And honestly? When I see red soles, I tend to assume they’re knock-offs, mainly because they’re generally worn by someone working at the mall.)

        1. Myrin*

          I’ve literally heard of the red-sole thing for the first time in this thread, so there’s that.
          (I was aware of the existence of a brand called “Louboutin” and that they’re shoes but that’s about it.)

          1. Tau*

            I have heard of exactly none of the brands people are talking about and am not sure how much is me being a complete fashion ignoramus and how much is stuff varying by culture.

            1. depizan*

              Same. I’m fairly certain people could make up designer brands at me and I would just nod.

              (Fortunately, knowledge of fashion is not important in my line of work.)

        2. Anon for This*

          I agree. I didn’t even know what a Birkin bag looked like until I googled it when this thread went up. I think those kind of luxury goods are available to so few people that aside from people who follow fashion very closely or who travel in circles where you have anywhere from 10K to 100K to spend on a handbag, that the vast majority of people wouldn’t recognize them at all.

            1. CMart*

              Yep! “A Birkin bag! A Birkin bag for Rory!”

              And even then I was brand-confused when I finally looked it up and saw it was the name of a style of bag by Hermès, a brand I had vaguely heard of by virtue of idly Googling for a watch to maybe buy my husband.

        3. kb*

          Yeah, Coach, while less expensive, is recognizable to more people than Supreme, a brand celebrities have difficulty obtaining. The internet and social media are expanding people’s exposure to the highest of the high end, but a lot of that stuff isn’t even on people’s radar.

        4. Susanne*

          It’s interesting to me that she didn’t know anything “above” Macy’s. Certainly she’s heard of Rolex, or Mercedes, or Rolls-Royce, or Tiffany’s, or the Ritz, no? Some luxury brands are just part of the cultural landscape even if you can’t ever afford them. I’m surprised she never heard of Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman-Marcus. Not shopped at – but never heard of.

          1. JulieBulie*

            “I’m surprised she never heard of Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman-Marcus.”

            Where does it say that she’d never heard of Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman-Marcus?

          2. Anon for This*

            You can hear about a lot of different brands, but if you don’t get exposed to them in person then you either wouldn’t recognize them, or if it’s not a brand that advertises on television then you may not recognize the brand when it’s mentioned.

            Honestly, I can’t afford to shop at Tiffany’s or in Saks (not that either are anywhere close to where I live),, and neither can any of my friends or family, so I wouldn’t be identify many of the brands that they carry.

            1. sam*

              Saks is just another department store that carries most of the same crap (but some higher end designer crap) that most other “fancy” department stores like Bloomingdales, Nordstrom’s, Nieman Marcus, etc. carry. Don’t be intimidated.

              (and Tiffany’s doesn’t sell other brands – they sell their own stuff. Which, if it’s diamond stuff, is mainly just diamonds, ridiculously marked up from the actual value of the diamonds because you’re paying for the Tiffany “name” and the blue box. Most new yorkers go about ten blocks south to the diamond district and buy their engagement rings and whatnot from the wholesalers and pay less than half).

              Most of knowing about this “stuff” means knowing that it’s all a bunch of meaningless hype and branding. Also, I know several people who work or have worked at both of these stores, and they poop just like the rest of us :)

        5. Not So NewReader*

          It depends on what area of the country you live in and what people in that area place a high value on.

          I am chuckling at the brand recognition because here the problem would be more about putting on airs. Nice clothing/accessories would probably make people look closer to see if the person wearing it was actually a nice person and if they are they fair with people.

          Given two people:
          One woman dressed very nicely. Her clothes and accessories were clearly expensive. She spoke to EVERYONE, no matter their position in the company. If anyone in any department had a problem they could go to her and she would stay on it until she and the employee found a solution. She knew people’s names and she would greet them when passing in the hall way. She was always working.

          Next person. A man who also dressed very nicely and the clothes were custom plus expensive jewelry. He barked orders not to speak to him unless spoken to first. He did not know anyone’s name. If you passed him in the hallway it was very clear that you needed to step to one side even if you were dealing with an emergency.

          The person who got ripped apart in the grapevine gossip was the man. The conversations would start with, “Oh he has another custom made bizillion dollar suit on today. Did you see that watch? It’s an X and it costs Y money.” The employees kept track of how many times he was not at work and no one knew where he was.

          The grapevine was much kinder to the well-dressed woman. While some people did get upset it would be situation specific and not an over all statement about the woman. “Jane decided to go with A and I so disagree. I think we should do B and I am upset.” Other times I would hear compliments. “Jane fixed Y problem. Should have asked her three years ago when the problem started.”

          I agree that spendy clothing and accessories draw people’s attention but I think that if you are a fair minded and hard working person the clothes become less and less noticed. Above all else, it’s important to know your environment.

        6. SarahTheEntwife*

          Yeah, I’ve heard of Coach but wouldn’t recognize one and have never heard of any of the more expensive brands. I had never heard of the red sole thing before this thread and would just assume they were neat funky shoes.

      5. Alisa*

        I would think only a person who regularly buys item at Birkin-level could authenticate jut from a glance (not touching, feeling, examining the lining, etc.) given the increasingly high quality of counterfeits around these day. So don’t judge someone too much either way if you see a Birkin style bag on their arm, eh!

        1. Specialk9*

          There’s a great moment in the tv show Younger – which I started watching due to a recommendation here – in which the high couture head editor starts online dating, and a guy obsessed with fancy purses shows up to a date just to take a picture with her purse.

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          I have a Birkin-style bag that almost looks spot on the real thing – until you really examine the edges of the bag. Otherwise, just glancing at it, it’s dang near flawless in its replication. And it only cost me $149 off Amazon! No way am I paying $10k for a bag, even if I had that kind of money to throw away.

  8. cheluzal*

    Psh–I teach middle school and most of those girls, from all walks of life, have something with double C’s or MKs on them, or in the Vera Bradley style. No one blinks an eye as much nowadays, IMO. And I’m in a ruralish farming town.

    1. Geronica*

      But those brands probably aren’t what the OP is talking about; as someone said upthread, if you can find it at an outlet mall, it probably isn’t going to register as luxury.

      1. JustaTech*

        Double C’s are Chanel, not Coach. (My MIL has a thing for Chanel, so I’ve picked up a few things.)
        Chanel can be wicked expensive (10K for a purse expensive). Dunno about their clothes.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I hate that anyone considers things “tacky” just because they’re not expensive/exclusive. :-( I mean, yeah, I’m not a fan of the big repeating logos, but VB bags are cute for that age group.

        1. Nila*

          It’s not because of the price point, there are lots of cheaper bags that aren’t considered tacky. These are thought of as tacky because they get bought by people who think they have prestige and don’t realize they don’t.

          1. Emi.*

            I mean, apparently they have prestige for middle-schoolers, which is who middle-schoolers want to impress, so.

          2. CMart*

            I realize you’re speaking in the voice of “people who think Coach is tacky” but WOW is that sentiment… something.

            It’s the height of the yucky kind of elitism: it’s “tacky” for people who can’t ordinarily afford a moderately-expensive, probably good quality item to be proud of finally being able to get that item for themselves?

            1. Nila*

              No. It’s because they have bought into an idea that those brands carry prestige and don’t realize they don’t any more. They’re buying the bag for the label not for the price, there are lots of good quality handbags at the same or cheaper prices. I would never knock someone who was just proud of a nice handbag, this is about buying brands for what you think they stand for and being wrong about it.

              1. Beckie*

                Who is the arbiter of whether a brand carries prestige, and when it loses prestige? How quickly can a brand considered “aspirational” veer into “tacky”?

                1. Susanne*

                  By the time teenage girls in rural areas are cooing over it, it’s no longer aspirational. (I’m not sure Vera Bradley ever was aspirational, but I don’t think they ever planned to be. They know their niche.)

                2. NaoNao*

                  I think in a very general sense, prestige is based on two things:
                  Objective quality of item. This includes the labor, fabric, finishes, and fabrics chosen and used.
                  Rarity, expense, or difficulty of obtaining item.

                  a third item could be “customer base”. This isn’t usually talked about openly, but if, say, high school girls or sleezy Wall Street types or suburban moms or anyone but the Upper 1%, dahlink, are using it, it’s lost prestige.

                  This is why an inexpensive rug from Nepal casually tossed on your floor has more “prestige” than a rug 10x more expensive from Pier 1, or why a vintage Gucci tote bag you found at a thrift store has more prestige than a more modern, more expensive LV “speedy” bag.

                  If an item is limited edition, rare, or hard to get (from a rural area of a far-flung country, an heirloom, vintage, or made of a no-longer available product (genuine ivory, ambergris, etc), it has more prestige than an item that is the same cost or more but that is widely replicable and available.

                  There is a fascinating discussion of such in Paul Fussel’s book “Class”.

              2. Quiet lurker*

                Knocking school kids and branding them tacky because you don’t think they buy things for the right reasons seems unnecessary.

                1. Susanne*

                  No one is knocking teenage girls. VB is perfectly fine for totes, wallets, accessories. I have a VB carry-on tote and my daughter has a VB tote and wallet. It’s just not designer. That’s all. Having a brand name on something does not equal designer.

            2. Anteater*

              As one of the poorer kids who grew up in a middle school with a significant number of rich (as in McMansion rich) classmates, it’s tacky when popular (read: rich) middle school girls are deliberately drawing attention to and bringing up their logo-covered Coach purses in order to show off their wealth and ‘coolness.’ As an adult now, I understand that it’s totally normal for middle schoolers to be immature and they shouldn’t be judged too harshly for it, but the behavior itself is certainly tacky, especially since it was done with the intention of belittling the have-not’s and the have-less’s.

              This is exactly what Nic is referring to- tacky behavior, not a brand that is inherently tacky. While I primarily experienced this in middle school, I know some adults still behave this way (“Oh, is that a $15 purse from Walmart? Well, mine is a $300 bag from Coach. I guess some of us actually care about what we carry.”)

          3. Mary*

            This is hilarious: “You’re tacky for thinking that carries prestige when actually *I* know that it doesn’t carry prestige and that only these other things do. But that’s not tacky, because *i’m* right.”

            Basically, only a certain class of person gets to decide what prestige is, and if the wrong person thinks it has prestige, it loses prestige with the right people.

            And they say the US has no class system!

            1. nonegiven*

              I’m remembering the scene in Legally blonde where the pool boy knows her shoes are from last year.

  9. SL #2*

    I’m really into mid-range designer purses (Kate Spade, Coach, the like), so someone like me, who’s really into that sort of thing and spends non-work time looking at details and designs, could probably tell the difference between brands without seeing a logo. But most people aren’t going to look that closely at a purse, or at your clothes. I might, but I wouldn’t hold it against you in a job interview! As long as you look professional and polished when you come in, we’ll be just fine.

    One of my coworkers came into her interview with us looking very polished and in full business formal, and the only thing we worried about was if she thought we were the ones who were too casual. We wanted her to like us because we really liked her!

  10. Sas*

    I was going to insert a story about the time I went to a dog store to buy the dog a sweater and saw only expensive designer brands with high price tags. I was mistaken. One of the high end brands (with a similar name) was a look alike and not really that expensive. Something about mis-judgement, but nothing about work, a human, or interviewing.

      1. bohtie*

        I think what they’re getting at is that a lot of “designer” stuff nowadays is fake, and so wearing a designer logo or something doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re loaded. At least, that’s my pre-coffee interpretation.

  11. Kiki*

    I’m someone who notices clothing details and can spot certain designer pieces as well. The only time it ever came up in an interview was when I was pulled onto a panel last minute with two male coworkers to interview a college-aged female intern. The guys were stumbling through small talk awkwardly when I came in. I noticed her sweater and said “Is that the [designer] sweater from [collection]?” because I noticed it from their lookbook. The guys were relieved that I was able to break the ice and that intern had a really successful summer there!

  12. Anon4This*

    I’m wondering how this question is different from the engagement ring question that AAM answered a few years back. I think the advice there was to just wear your ring and not worry about it, but it seems like the advice here is to wear your designer items…”if they aren’t too flashy.” Does that mean that ring “flashiness” counts too…or is that completely separate from other apparel and accessories?

    I ask because of my personal experience with this. My ring is a simple design with a large center stone that many of my (female) bosses and higher-ups have complimented me on, so I know they are noticing it. I’ve actually had managers mention their “jealousy” of my ring which makes me uncomfortable. Given these reactions is it probably best not to wear the ring, like its best not to wear a designer logo bag? Does that change from the job interview to the day to day work, or is it again dependent on your field?

    1. MI Dawn*

      Unless you are constantly flashing your ring in people’s faces, I doubt it’s an issue. I’ll admire a beautiful ring on a man or woman, though the “jealousy” comment would make me cringe. Unless it’s to a VERY good friend, I’d never say it. I do have one friend that I comment that I’m jealous of her jewelry taste because she has the ability to wear all sorts of things that would not fit me in size or style at all.

      TL:DR: Wear your ring proudly.

    2. fposte*

      If you’re thinking of the question I remember, she was asking about removal for sexist reasons, not conspicuous consumption reasons, so those are slightly different questions.

      I think if you’re doing social work with the poor you probably don’t want to flash your diamond whether it’s an engagement ring or a tennis bracelet. But it doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re doing. Is the ring new, are you new, or has this been going on for years? Because that sounds like a peculiar amount of attention if the ring isn’t a new thing. Even if it is, that would make me uncomfortable as well; I would imagine it’s supposed to be complimentary, but the whole deal is just laden with unpleasant implications. I would be more inclined to ask people to stop commenting than to take the ring off, because why capitulate to people being weird? But that’s a personal call.

      1. Specialk9*

        Exactly. If you are working with people who are worried about food or access to a bed or shower, don’t go flashy, put on a simple band. Otherwise, do you for your wedding ring(s).

      2. Emily Spinach*

        I think the conspicuous consumption side of this is pretty interesting, in part since most women don’t directly choose their own rings (or that’s the cultural conception–how it plays out in practice I don’t know). Diamond engagement rings seem like a place where “conspicuous consumption” is treated differently–that is, it is pretty accepted in places that a similar diamond item, like a tennis bracelet, would generally look out of place.

        I think convention is that if you always wear it, keep doing so. I do think some people will find a big solitaire flashy or ostentatious, but you can’t control everyone’s opinions on everything.

        To my mind, a purse you carry often falls into the same category, roughly, but if you have multiple options I’d go for one that’s neutral and not noticeable.

    3. Smithy*

      I think it would apply to whether it’s a job where you wouldn’t be inclined to wear the ring at work. If your facing role – be it considered distracting or problematic – then maybe don’t wear it to interview.

      My only example of this was in grad school, one of our classmates had what I remember as a very large engagement ring. For months she was known as “the girl with the ring”. We were studying nonprofit management and I do know that in her professional ngo life she has always worn the ring. I think at least rings are often heirlooms, so in many professional circles at least that is probably acknowledged.

    4. K, Esq.*

      Wear your ring. I have many friends with huge diamond engagement rings, but I’m only jealous of the one that’s exactly my style because it’s SOOOO pretty.

    5. Buffy*

      Same. Unfortunately, I had trouble finding a job and landed my first one I didn’t wear my engagement ring at….(Although who knows if that had any impact whatsoever.) But women in general do point it out to compliment me, including a job interview last week.

      1. Buffy*

        Edit: Didn’t mean write to women in general. I meant I sometimes get compliments from women about the ring.

    6. nonymous*

      It’s weird. My Mom compares milestone purchases with the price/prevalence of her youth (she grew up poor). A postdoc in my lab got engaged to a lawyer and their ring was ~0.75 carats – even though post-doc did not show off the ring my mom was very uncomplimentary about it when they bumped into each other socially. In Mom’s mind, students == poor/struggling == 1/4 carat engagement ring. The postdoc actually came from a really wealthy family and her partner was making good money, so they were being frugal to stay under a carat, for their buying power & experiences.

      There are a lot of reasons people get the rings they do, and I think workplace banter really should be the least of any couple’s concern.

    7. Portia*

      I’ve been wondering about that too. I just got engaged, and my ring is a white topaz surrounded by tiny diamonds. It’s gorgeous and I love it, but it’s definitely not an expensive ring. (I mean, it’s the most expensive piece of jewelry I own, but it’s not what most people think of as a fancy engagement ring!) But most people assume it’s a diamond. Which feels weird, because I’m a high school teacher, I drive a 1996 Ford, and my fiance is about to be unemployed. So when I’m having a parent-teacher conference, and the parent interrupts me to compliment me on my ring, my instinct is to say “It’s a topaz! Not a diamond!” But that feels weirdly defensive, and maybe they’re not thinking about expense at all and it would just introduce awkwardness.

    1. GRA*

      Rent the Runway is the BEST! Especially for formal occasions and other times you want to wear a special dress but don’t want to buy!

      1. Specialk9*

        My roommate loved that service. She got super high end dresses for big events, then sent them back.

  13. Lauren*

    My sister has Coach sneakers. Those would be too out there for an interview, but a Coach bag would be fine and extremely common.

  14. RB*

    I mean, are we talking a Louis Vuitton bag with a Hermes scarf tied around the strap or are we taking a Kate Spade or Marc Jacobs bag from Nordstrom Rack? I was in social work and sat next to a woman who had a lot of the first-category type of items but it’s not like she had them because she was getting over-paid or anything like that. Everyone knew that we all made the same low salaries.

    1. Argh!*

      It’s one thing to recognize the name, but another to recognize a fake or a look from five years ago. There are lots of designer bags and clothes in consignment stores.

  15. AndersonDarling*

    As long as you don’t hop into an Aston Martin after the interview, I think you will be okay. Sales and mid-range product lines have made designer items within reach of almost everyone.

    1. Mike C.*

      I mentioned this above, but even lots of luxury car brands are going lower end. And even this, who cares if the car is expensive (looking)?

    2. Anon82*

      That’s such BS. Let me go sell my car so you don’t feel bad as a person that you cannot afford one. PULLEASSEE! I do usually have a more expensive car than my bosses but hey I wouldn’t drive a Huyndai to save my life (no idea how that is spelled nor do I want to know.) That is the silliest mentality I have ever heard. All of my work shoes are Louboutins. Not about to go out and buy cheap stuff I don’t like just to go to an interview.

      1. NaoNao*

        Behold, the “bootstraps!” mentality in all it’s glory :/

        Choosing which items to display prominently and which to keep on the D-L or for certain special occasions is not selling your car so us Poors won’t feel bad when you zip by with your Louboutin-shod foot on the accelerator. It’s a common form of what many call “code switching” and it’s a valuable skill for knowing what is appropriate with what audience and occasion.

        In 1905 Pulitzer Prize winner Edith Wharton wrote the following sentence which seems applicable here

        “There was little comfort in noting […] that her striking dress was totally unsuited to the hour, the place and the occasion.”

        Not knowing or caring when it’s time to show off and when it’s time to blend in actually marks one as vulgar and Nouve Riche, but “not that you care or want to know” I guess.

  16. anon for this*

    I’m fairly young and I have many luxury bags (Chanels, LV, Hermes etc) and, small leather goods, and accessories that I carry on a regular basis. I don’t own any bags less than $3000 and I haven’t thought much about carrying them at work and to interviews until I read this post. Should I be looking into purchasing cheaper bags to carry to interviews, rather than my nice pieces? It pains me to spend a few hundred dollars on something I may never use outside of a rare occassion job interview.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I think it depends on your industry. Honestly, I’d be worried about theft at work. (says the 20 year criminal defense lawyer who knows people will steal literally anything not bolted down. And even then, some people will steal things that are/were bolted down)

    2. Smithy*

      Unless there’s a repeating logo issue, you’re probably fine with the bags you own for interviews. Especially for bags like Chanel that do have a wider range of price points. That being said, for Hermès being so associated with Birkin….unless you’re interviewing in financial services or fashion….I wouldn’t use that one. It just may be really noticeable in a way that could detract from you the candidate.

    3. Emi.*

      If “cheaper bags” in your network cost a few hundred dollars, I don’t think people are going to care.

    4. Specialk9*

      I’m genuinely curious – I make decent money but it would pain me too much to spend even a couple hundred on my only purse, much less multiples of a thousand, as only one of many purses – how do you afford that, especially as a young person? Did you grow up very wealthy, or work in finance, or what? It’s a peek into a very different world. :D

      1. Susanne*

        There’s a train of thought which says buy ekegant and classic and it will last for years. Hence one great leather bag versus a bunch of cheaper trendier ones, etc.

      2. anon for this*

        I grew up in a middle class family, but my parents were really big on spending a lot of money on an expensive thing upfront that will last a long time so you can save money in the long run. I work a normal job that pays a average wage, but my partner is older than me and pretty well off. My bags were gifts from him, but I also saved money to buy a lot of my small leather goods and other designer accessories. I started out with mid-range brands when I was in my early twenties, and slowly moved on to luxury brands when I saw how much better the quality and longevity was. I am hard on my bags, and Michael Kors and Coach bags would maybe last me a season before the shape would change, or the zippers would lose their lustre, etc. Luxury bags are well constructed, and (for me) tend to hold up significantly better than their cheaper counterparts.

        My bags are an investment. The super high end luxury brands will do price increases yearly (for example, a Chanel Classic Flap cost about $3000 to buy 4 years ago; the price to get the exact same bag now has doubled) and for the iconic bags that people covet you can easily sell them for what you paid for them, provided the bag isn’t in abhorrent condition. All of my bags I could sell for what I paid for them, and in some cases more. I consider them a nest egg of sorts, in case I ever need a cash infusion I could easily sell them. Of course, not all brands can be resold easily or for a profit, so I tend not to buy them and I’m also not into the super expensive 6 figure exotic leather bags, that’s way too rich for my blood. I also enjoy having classic bags with stories behind them (did you know that the Louis Vuitton Alma bag was originally designed for Coco Chanel?), and the workmanship and attention to detail is always sublime. It’s a hobby too, I love looking at collections and used bags… there’s always something new to discover and learn.

      3. sam*

        I think people just prioritize different things (and I’m not talking about folks who genuinely have to prioritize, say, food, over luxuries). I make decent money as well, but I also don’t buy a lot of “luxury” clothing. As I noted above, some of it is because I think it’s an unnecessary thing for me to spend money on, but also, as a plus-sized person, I’m generally just sized out of many of those brands. And sure, I could buy $400 shoes, but walking around NYC, where I wear out shoes on the regular? that’s just silly. I’ll buy several pairs of $60 shoes at DSW so that I have replacements after I wear them to death (and yes, I am also friends with my local cobbler, but some shoes are not fixable that way).

        But at the same time, I’ll think nothing of buying new camera equipment, or taking a really nice vacation. Because those are the things that I enjoy.

      4. Oxford Comma*

        I have a weakness for handbags. For years and years, I would buy the $25-$35 purse from Marshalls or Macy’s or TJ Maxx or Target. And they were fine. But they tend to not be the highest quality and they tend not to last.

        I have a couple of Coach bags. I don’t care if they’re considered “suburban” fashion. I like the look of them so I use them. I like the colors on Kate Spade’s bags. Fossil’s purses, at least the ones I have, are well made and suit my purposes. I have paid full price once or twice for a bag, but almost always I wait for sales or I get the emails from places like Kate Spade. They move their stock a lot and it’s not uncommon to see a bag that I’ve been eyeing marked down 75%. The bags I have are ones that have lasted me years and years.

        Also, thrifting. Estate sales. Garage sales. People donate nice things all the time.

        But here’s the thing, you shouldn’t be buying these things for the status. They should be things you love and use.

    5. Close Bracket*

      > It pains me to spend a few hundred dollars on something I may never use outside of a rare occassion job interview.

      I thought about this before buying my interview bag. The bag cost just a little more than my suit, and I didn’t think twice about spending that money on a suit that I never use outside of the occasional job interview. If it’s not a hardship, just do it.

  17. Newlywed*

    Alison I think you have a typo in this sentence: “But simply the fact that something is designer isn’t in an of itself an issue.” “an” should be “and”

  18. Delta Delta*

    I was once on an interview panel. We interviewed a woman who was very well dressed. Somehow it came up organically that she can score great deals on shoes because she has unusually small feet. She can often find really great shoes on huge sales because there are 1 or 2 pairs in her size and often nobody wears her size. We didn’t hire her (and really, the place was so awful and toxic that it’s good for her she didn’t get hired), but the shoe story made me like her.

    Of course, AwfulBoss, who wasn’t on the panel, happened to see her and made some snide comment about how “she must not need the job so badly because look at how she spends money on shoes.” I think I rolled my eyes so hard I could see the tag in the back of my shirt.

    1. nnn*

      Damn, I wish that worked for large feet! With unusually large feet, all I get is I can’t fit into any of the shoes in the mall.

        1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

          Try online shops that cater to drag queens – they go up to a size 16 and can definitely accommodate wide feet and/or calves. My friend with size 10 feet gets the most amazing shoes from them!

          1. learningToCode*

            I really want to try this, but I would have no clue how to figure out which stores in town would have drag queen size 12 shoes

            1. Temperance*

              It would probably mostly be online. There a place where I grew up that specializes in sexy clothing and shoes (Mr. Fashions), and it was sort of known.

        2. Denise*

          Long Tall Sally has wearable large sizes. A lot of the drag queen sites have shoes that are really only appropriate for drag queens on stage. I get my super wide shoes online from Shoe Mall, Zappos, and Maryland Square. You can filter your search by width. It’s worth the hassle.

      1. paul*

        I literally have to drive to another city to buy dress shoes. It *sucks*. I can find tennis shoes in my size locally though, so that’s something.

          1. paul*

            Yeah, but I want to try shoes on before I buy them. Different brands fit really differently. And I’m in a bigger city at least once a year or so anyway.

            Coats are another one; last time I bought a coat online it was too damn tight in the shoulders and arms.

            T shirts and cargo shorts and kakhis I buy online but coats and shoes…not so much.

    2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      Size 5 shoe wearer chiming in – as I posted above I’ve made amazing designer shoe purchases on ThredUp, and whereas the more common sizes get snapped up quickly, the 5 – 5.5’s seem to hang out forever until they’re marked down to final sale for a tiny fraction of the original cost.

  19. Bend & Snap*

    I have a designer shoe hobby (Manolo Blahnik is my BFF). My bags tend to be more Kate Spade/Marc Jacobs. And my clothes range from Ann Taylor to Old Navy. I spend money on the bottom (shoes) and the top (bag, hair, face), and that’s my strategy for always looking pulled together. Everything in the middle is either on sale or cheap to begin with.

    I wouldn’t judge someone for wearing (or not wearing) designer clothes/accessories to an interview unless they were too casual/not tasteful. But I work in an industry that expects people to have money to spend on that stuff, pull up in a BMW (I do not have a BMW), etc.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      I have a designer shoe hobby (Manolo Blahnik is my BFF). My bags tend to be more Kate Spade/Marc Jacobs. And my clothes range from Ann Taylor to Old Navy. I spend money on the bottom (shoes) and the top (bag, hair, face), and that’s my strategy for always looking pulled together. Everything in the middle is either on sale or cheap to begin with.

      You sound like me (only my Manolo’s are secondhand, as are my other BFF Jimmy Choo). I think I only own two premium bags (a Chloe Paddington satchel and a quilted purse from Marc Jacob’s luxury line) – the rest of my bags are mid-range or even nonbranded bags from Walmart and Target. And the bulk of my shirts are under $5. You really only need great shoes, a nice bag, good hair, and everything else falls into place.

  20. always in email jail*

    There’s been a few discussions on this topic (usually around the LV neverfull bag and whether or not it was appropriate for an intern to carry one) over on the website corporette, which covers some women’s work fashion issues.
    General consensus if I remember correctly is, like Alison said, you might not want a repeating logo or distinctive check pattern on your bag, but few people will bat an eye at a solid colored version of a bag (like the LV neverfull). Frankly, in my experience, in industries where it matters most people wouldn’t even notice a non-branded luxury bag. For a new-ish grad I’d probably default to assuming it was their mom’s old bag or a gift or something

    1. Bend & Snap*

      We had an intern once who was DRIPPING in designer logos. Her wallet said DIOR on the front. Etc. Everything she wore had a logo. And that’s all anyone remembers about her.

      1. Observer*

        Either the intern was ultimately forgettable or your staff has too much time on its hands. But, there is also a difference between using designer stuff and making sure EVERYONE KNOWS about it.

    2. Breda*

      Yeah, especially if it’s a black or brown leather tote, for a new grad I might assume it was in fact a graduation gift for their future job-hunting, in the same way law grads are often given briefcases.

  21. Drago Cucina*

    Agree with the feedback. Simple designs and well fitting clothing is more important than the actual designer. I was at a meeting once where the consultant and I each had a Cole Haan tote bag. The only reason we each knew was that we recognized the classic woven pattern. Probably no one else knew or cared.

  22. Hiring Mgr*

    I would think that no, it shouldn’t make even the tiniest bit of difference, but there are plenty of other (to me) arbitrary “rules” such as your resume can never be a certain length, you must have a certain file name, you can’t check back with the employer after the interview, etc, so you can never read an individual employer. Speaking for myself, I would never notice or care..

    1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      There are enough weird people in the world that whatever you do, it’s always possible that someone somewhere will see it as a negative thing. Best thing to do in my opinion is to follow the most generally accepted guidelines and assume that most people are reasonable.

  23. mf*

    Agreed that you’ll be fine if you avoid large, visible labels. As a more general guideline, when I’m undecided about interview attire, I ask myself WWCW: What would Claire (Underwood) wear?

  24. Lily in NYC*

    I always thought it was interesting that my boyfriend was told not to wear cuff-links when interviewing at big investment banks in NYC (like Goldman Sachs) because it would make him seem like an “outside”. Whatever that means.

  25. Oxford Comma*

    I don’t know what it’s like in fields where that stuff is expected, but in places where it’s not the norm (but not a negative), as long as you aren’t constantly flinging labels in people’s faces or calling out whose clothes and accessories you’re wearing, I don’t think people will care.

  26. Observer*

    OP, as long as what you wear is work appropriate, well fitting and not ostentatious, it should be fine in most fields. (Alison called out the kinds of areas that might be an exception.) I just want to point something out to you. If an employer generally looks at how much they think you “need” a job as a significant criteria for whether to hire, that’s a HUGE red flag. So is making significant assumptions on nothing more than the kind of bag someone carries or the labels you are guessing are on their clothes.

  27. Em*

    I’m young, kind of a brand snob, and cheap. The clothes I wear say very little about my income. Today, I’m wearing a J.Crew wool sweater, that I picked up at my local thrift store for $8. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll wear my DVF silk wrap dress; I paid $5 for it.

    As long as the clothes you’re wearing are tasteful, without giant logos on them or something, I think it’s totally fine.

  28. AvonLady Barksdale*

    To be honest, when I see younger people (like, under 30) carrying high-end designer items, I generally assume they’re gifts. It doesn’t faze me at all, but I also work in fields where it’s not uncommon for people to have high salaries or families with higher salaries. The only way it would really bug me is if someone said something like, “Oh, hold on, let me pick up my Kelly/Louis/ from the floor,” but that would bug me in the open arena of life too.

    1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

      This. I actually get really frustrated when people make sweeping judgments about someone’s financial situation because they have a Coach purse or whatever. I’ve actually brought up the gift possibility when an old coworker of mine was assuming a woman she’d encountered shouldn’t be on food stamps or something because of the purse she owned. I mean…what if she bought it five years ago when she was doing well financially? What if someone gave it to her? What if she found it at a garage sale? It’s so absurd to assume that someone is being shady just because they have a nice item.

  29. Anon anon anon*

    I don’t know much about clothes so I don’t know how many people would notice if something is higher end or not. But I do think that in any field, having a more expensive look can communicate that you are comfortable and don’t need the job as much as some people (think trust fund or highly paid spouse). There are always some people who will make that kind of assumption, especially if you’re young. On the other hand, it could come across as though you’re successful and well paid in your current position. But I’d play it safe and dress in a more “middle income” way for an interview.

    *I’m good at making things and finding bargains. People sometimes think that I’m better off than I am because of this and it has worked against me job-wise.

    1. Kiki*

      I always think it’s funny that there’s a specific “expensive look” that people associate with money, but some designer things don’t fit within that sort of look at all. Today I’m wearing a field jacket that would have been $500-600 retail (I paid much less at a thrift store) but it looks like a outdoorsy jacket so I doubt anyone would know the brand or could guess the price. But if I wore a designer pencil skirt or blazer, that might fit more with the “look” and be more circumspect.

      1. Anon anon anon*

        Exactly. It’s not fair or logical. But some people get super judgey about things that look “expensive” or “cheap”. Some would say to let those people weed themselves out, but that’s OP’s call. Sometimes you interview with people you won’t actually be working with (HR people, for example).

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I once heard of a woman being rejected for an interview because the recruiter saw her picture (a country where it is common to send a photograph with an application) and was told “It doesn’t look like she needs the money”.

  30. nisie*

    I remember in my internship for my degree in social services, I was in Macon, which didn’t have a great social economic status. A woman, who was married to an officer, was also an intern. 15 years ago, she boasted that she wore at least $1500 a day between shoes, purses, jewelry and clothes and that didn’t count her makeup. Her attitude turned people off more than anything elese

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      Yeah… there was a woman who used to work at my office who was like that. She got married and had this huge bejeweled ring. Her wife bought it while they were in Paris on their honeymoon. She had at least 6 different pair of those shoes with the red soles (leboutains?). She liked to brag that nothing touched her body that wasn’t at least $100 retail. Another co-worker and I used to roll our eyes every time she’d start talking.

    2. Observer*

      Ugh, I can imagine the attitude turning people off. I would have expected someone in that position to realize how inappropriate is was. Live and learn, I guess.

    3. Not Who I Think I Am*

      Reminds me of the receptionist at one company I worked at who made sure everybody knew she was working for “pin money.”

    4. Specialk9*

      That’s the most obnoxious thing I’ve heard. I would hate her with the fire of a thousand suns, not for loving fashion – my deep love – but for being an snob who values money over quality, and bragging over empathy.

  31. I Coulda Been a Lawyer ;)*

    Bought a coach knock off for $5; the purse I was carrying broke and it was the right size. In line to get onto a cruise ship I saw 5 other women carrying the same knock off but with different non-coach straps. We compared notes and had a laugh!

  32. Rusty Shackelford*

    I think some people are confusing knock-offs with counterfeits. If your purse has a *similar* logo to a name brand bag (a logo that’s linked Gs instead of linked Cs, or a repeating pattern of VI instead of LV) it’s a knock-off. If it’s actually supposed to look exactly like the name brand bag, including the real logo, it’s a counterfeit and it’s illegal. And some of us will be a little judgy about that.

  33. Anon today...and tomorrow*

    I agree with Allison. Don’t be flashy about your labels and you’ll be fine. Also…if someone does comment on that designer label share the excitement of your bargain find! I get more excited finding out someone got an amazing deal on a designer item than the item itself. :) I live in a fairly rich town but don’t have a lot of money. There’s a great consignment store in town where I’m able to get some great deals. My 12 year old is rocking a very nice cashmere cardigan this fall that I got there last spring for $12! I looked up the label online. It originally sold for nearly $200!

  34. Jam Today*

    All I can picture now is Edina Monsoon, with hideously mismatched items from every designer possible, with a gigantic gold lame label across her bosom:

    Patsy: “Eddy what on earth are you wearing!?!”
    Edina, indignantly gesturing at the label on her top: “Its DIOR, darling!”
    Patsy: “Its fabulous.”

  35. Be the Change*

    When I was a teenager I went to an evangelical type church and I was very ‘ligious. I remember a discussion about materialism — one should not be materialistic, rather using one’s wealth to glorify the Lord — and one of the adults asked, “Well, what if your job is such that you have to have a Jaguar or a BMW or Mercedes to be successful?”

    And I remember thinking, “Why would a devout Christian *have* a job like that when we are called to be humble?” …unfortunately I don’t remember the answer, maybe the speaker couldn’t come up with one?

    I do believe that was the beginning of the end for me and ‘ligion, lo those many decades ago. I still wonder, although for somewhat different reasons.

    1. Specialk9*

      Well I am glad they weren’t preaching prosperity gospel. Because that is an evil soul rot, to the core. Preaching against materialism is at least in alignment with what Jesus would actually do (err, did do.)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. My body is not a billboard for someone’s product. Other people can carry it and be fine, but for me I am not comfortable.

  36. Radio Girl*

    My husband’s approach is similar. He says the designer should pay him for wearing the logo.

    But I also think the obsession with logos says something about the wearer that I don’t want about me. And it’s not simply, “She has bad taste.”

    1. nonegiven*

      You can go too far with that. Turning up your nose at using plastic grocery bags for lining your wastebaskets because it says HEB or whatever on them.

  37. Cassie*

    Adjacent to “know your field”, it can also be an issue of appropriateness versus price. For example, if my company was interviewing you to be a project manager and the hiring manager wanted to meet on a messy job site, brand-name heels or a bag would make it look as though you don’t understand the practicalities or safety concerns of the industry.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Yup. When dressing in my designer stuff (mainly shoes), I consider what I’ll be doing that day and whether it makes sense for the activity. If it doesn’t, I don’t wear it no matter how cute it is.

  38. Anon anon anon*

    One more thing. Sometimes if you come across as well off and/or well connected (which, I know, these clothes might or might not communicate), you’ll attract freeloader / coat tail rider types. Which in theory shouldn’t matter in an interview. But you could end up crossing paths with someone like that and having to work with them. They exist everywhere.

  39. Close Bracket*

    After *much* deliberation, I bought a Coach briefcase as a deliberate dogwhistle. I’m an engineer. Most engineers are middle-class white guys, and they prefer people who are like them (that part is not unique to engineers). I’ve got the white part down, but the guy part is forever out of reach for me. I’m middle-class owing to being an engineer, but I didn’t grow up that way, and I don’t have any of the signals. Enter the Coach bag. Even if my male colleagues aren’t familiar with the brand, since it is mostly associated with purses, the quality is obvious at a glance. Suddenly, I fit in.

    1. CheeryO*

      I’m shocked that your male coworkers notice your bag, period. I’m half-convinced that I could walk into our office full of 50-something male engineers wearing a ball gown and tiara and they would ask if I got a haircut.

  40. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

    I’d like to add that, even if you didn’t “need” the job doesn’t mean you’re not a good candidate. I know of people whose expenses can be covered by their spouses’ salaries, but they want a job to put more in savings or just to get out of the house and have something to do. It seems really odd to me that any company would make a decision based on what someone’s current financial situation is. Maybe I’m totally naive, but last I checked, being in a financially privileged place doesn’t automatically make someone a lesser candidate.

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