By Leslie Marcus
If you walk out of the Louis Vuitton store in Fashion Valley with an espresso-colored shopping bag in hand, you've spent at least $415 dollars. And that's for an enamel keychain. Upgrade to the ever-coveted monogram bag and you're dropping $900 dollars, on the low end.
"For women, bags are a huge statement," says celebrity stylist Jeni Elizabeth. "They give you a boost of self-confidence and make you feel fabulous. It's an instant way to sexify yourself."
I never understood how an expensive bag could up your sex appeal. Shoes, maybe-those stay on your feet, sometimes even in the bedroom--but you can't permanently attach a handbag to an appendage, which left me wondering: is money better spent on buying a handbag or removing saddlebags?
"If you're not in shape, you can have the best-looking handbag and the best designer clothes money can buy, but still not be very happy with your look," says La Jolla -based plastic surgeon Dr. Scott Miller.
Miller says trading in two or three designer handbags can indeed get you the body you want. And these days you can freeze your fat away during your lunch break with a cool-sculpting procedure called Zeltiq.
"The majority of my body-contouring patients already have the handbag, and that hasn't filled their bucket," Miller says. "Your body is still yours, while your handbag is in the back of your closet under three sweatshirts and an old dress."
For quicker, more dramatic results, liposuction may be the answer. And according to Del Mar plastic surgeon Dr. Vince Marin, it's seeing a rebirth: statistics show that liposuction is the number one plastic surgery procedure in the United States, surpassing breast augmentation last year.
But it's not all sunshine and roses.
"Despite the fact that you have liposuction doesn't mean that you won't continue to put on weight" says Marin. Miller echoes the sentiment: "If you don't plan on getting off the couch, eating sensibly and living a healthy lifestyle, then I say go Louis all the way."
Continuing my quest for answers, I turn to the fitness world, specifically to Dr. Booty (aka Anthony Farmer) at The Lab Training downtown.
Dr. Booty trains some of the best-bodied women in San Diego, some of whom dance on stage (and in cages) at FLUXX and Side Bar downtown. He also trains less perfectly shaped women who have tried everything to drop the extra weight.
Tell me, Dr. Booty, sexy bag or sexy body?
"You got this Gucci bag that you won't even be able to hold up if you can't stand up straight," he says. "You can't stand up straight if your body is weak or your core is weak."
"I don't think a hot bag has anything to do with how hot a girl is. It's the complete package. That's like wearing True Religion jeans when you don't have a butt. Those jeans are designed for women with bodies; they're not designed for women with flat backs."
If a better derriere is what you're after, Dr. Booty says he can give you one. It costs around a grand to "build a butt."
"I say ditch the bag and get the butt, because the butt will get your man to buy you a bag," he says, laughing.
It's funny-I've been working out more than ever these days and just got my first Louis Vuitton bag as a birthday gift. But after owning knock-off purses, designer clutches and everything in between for years, it turns out not to be my big brown bag with the L.V.s all over it that brings me to my happy place. It's actually my $20 nylon Adidas bag that I throw over my shoulder when leaving the gym after making the treadmill my bitch.
Having a toned body that I've worked hard for gives me a level of confidence that can't be store-bought. If it could, it would cost a whole lot more than a Louis Vuitton bag (which I'm considering buying another one of, by the way).
Entry-level Neverfull GM: $900
The Alma bag: $1,800 (with enamel keychain: add $415)
COOL-SCULPTING WITH ZELTIQ
(by La Jolla-based plastic surgeon Dr. Scott Miller)
Results: up to 25% fat removed in one area of body in one treatment
Cost: $1,200 per treatment
Treatment time: two hours per area
Time to see results: 2-3 months
(by Del Mar plastic surgeon Dr. Vince Marin)
Results: 80% of fat lost in area treated
(Dr. Marin says removing more would reduce skin's elasticity)
Cost: $1,500 and up to remove fat from one body area
Treatment time: one hour
Time to see results: instantly
Downtime: three or four days, if only one area treated
FITNESS AND PERSONAL TRAINING
Gym membership at Downtown Fitness: $25 per month
Personal trainer at The Lab Training: $50-85 per hour
Group training: $37-42 per hour
Build-a-butt or lose 15-20 pounds: $1,000 (takes 6-8 weeks)