IMAGINE if the person you’re dating invites you to their great-uncle’s birthday party. This is not just any family gathering. The great-uncle in question is a billionaire and the party is at their New York City penthouse. To fit in, you wear your best dress and carry your most expensive handbag — a large, four-figure Burberry tote.
Unbeknown to you, your Burberry tote is a major fashion faux pas. It immediately distinguishes you as someone who is not part of this super elite. It is not the price tag or brand that has betrayed you: it’s the size of the bag.
This is what unfolded in a scene from the season-four premiere of HBO’s Succession. While attending patriarch Logan Roy’s birthday, Cousin Greg is mercilessly mocked by Tom Wambsgans for his date’s “ludicrously capacious” handbag. Bridget’s handbag, Tom scoffs, is “monstrous” and “gargantuan.”
The biting humor between Tom and Greg is an entertaining and engaging feature of Succession. In this scene, however, their repartee reveals much about the power structures within elite society.
While many would consider Bridget’s Burberry tote the epitome of luxury and elegance, the functionality of bag and its iconic check pattern was entirely gauche to the Roys.
The size of the bag implied Bridget did not have staff catering to her every whim. She must carry everything she needs for the day with her. According to Tom Wambsgans, this includes her lunch (implying she can’t afford to dine at restaurants) and appropriate shoes for the subway (indicating she doesn’t have a driver).
This is a stark comparison to Shiv Roy, who is rarely seen with a bag or any accessory except her phone. Unlike Bridget, Shiv is not plagued with the stresses of life. She has people for that.
The iconic Burberry tartan that covered Bridget’s bag was also, according to Tom, an “enormous faux pas.” Visible brand names and patterns have become associated with people who try to emulate wealth but are not…
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