clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Confessions From a Filthy Rich Childhood on Park Avenue

New, 25 comments

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

We asked Sutton Van Brigsby, one half of the duo behind the blog Sobbing On Fifth, to tell us what it was like growing up as a baby whale on Park Avenue. Below, she recalls a time when shopping at Bergdorf Goodman was a rite of passage, and flying to Paris for a bottle of Chanel nail polish wasn't unheard of.

Serhiy Kobyakov/Shutterstock
The first time I proudly displayed my spoils from a sample sale to my mother, she recoiled in horror. "How many people do you think tried that on? You don't know where it's been," she shuddered, as if my gorgeous Alexander Wang FW10 runway dress was a candy I'd found on the street and was about to pop into my mouth with reckless abandon.

You can't blame her, though. Mom raised me in the world of full price. Growing up on Park Avenue with a father who had all the right clients for anything you could need (Floor seats to the Knicks game? Last-minute table at Per Se? Discontinued Hermès perfume? Done.) meant shopping was a whole different experience for me than it was for most.

Until I turned twenty-one and got that "You need to figure out what you want to do with your life" talk (read: the cut off), sample sales were things that only existed in movies—places where women played tug of war over Jimmy Choo boots while I tried on the newer season's shoes with Mom at Bergdorf.

Shopping was more than just a hobby growing up: it was a reaction. Made the honor roll at school? Let's celebrate with a trip of the shoe department at Barney's. Broke up with a dreamy boy after nine months? Let's wallow by padding around the second floor of the Miu Miu store on Fifth. (One particular breakup was so bad that Mom decided I could never be seen in the same clothes again, as any outfit ran the risk of bringing up the bad memories. I finally obtained my long-coveted Rick Owens jacket thanks to that particular trauma.)

What's always been great about Mom and Dad is that they understood how dire the need for certain items was. Some parents might scoff at their children pronouncing that they may actually perish if they don't obtain the latest colorway of the YSL Cabas Chyc tote, but not my folks.

Like the Chanel Black Satin nail polish crisis when I was in college. You remember—Chanel's perfect, silky black polish sold out everywhere, and Dad understood that owning a bottle (or six) became more and more necessary to my survival with each passing day. When all of my efforts to track down a bottle here failed (even with Dad's connections!), he flew me, with a faithful shopping companion, to Paris, so I could continue the hunt there. Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, the Chanel boutiques on Rue Cambon and Place Vendôme ...I found it. Don't ask how, just know I did.

Thankfully, Mom and Dad also understood how sometimes, only one bag or pair of shoes or necklace will do. On the night before my first job interview after college, I was raiding my closet with a friend for a look that said "I'm professional, but still have time to shop more than you." I found the perfect suit, but what bag? My misguided friend suggested a black Céline tote. Um, no. The shape was all wrong for the fit of the suit. The Louis Vuitton? But it was so?brown. The printed Prada? Too eye-catching.

I knew I needed the new Marc Jacobs I'd seen in Elle, and I needed it for the next morning. The misguided friend couldn't understand, and tried to assure me one of my other nineteen bags would do—but what did she know? Dad called the Marc store and got them to come in thirty minutes early the next day so I could walk in to that interview with my bag of choice. I didn't get the job, but is that really what matters? I don't think so.

Nowadays, I have to work to afford my shopping sprees—sometimes life just throws you a curveball. But I'm still grateful to Mom and Dad for all the connections I have. I can still get some of my favorite stores to hold the last Eddie Borgo cone bracelet for me, or greet me with a glass of champagne. If there's one thing my childhood of shopping taught me, it's that these are the things that truly count.

Update: This story seems to have caught the attention of our friends across the pond. In answer to their concerns, the author stands by the story above, although the original post should have noted that she was writing under a pseudonym.
· All Whale Week 2013 Coverage [Racked NY]

Jimmy Choo Fifth Avenue

716 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10065 212-759-7078 Visit Website

Marc Jacobs Collection

385 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012 212 343 1490 Visit Website

Barneys New York, Madison

660 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10065 (212) 826-8900 Visit Website