It’s About More Than the Purchase

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“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”
― Coco Chanel

A few weeks ago, I hit State Street in Santa Barbara with some friends on a mission: to find something beautiful to buy that delighted my heart.  I tried on shoes, sniffed perfumes, and then I saw them:  Tom Ford sunglasses.

I remember buying my first pair of Tom Ford sunglasses years ago. I nearly had a panic attack when I handed over the cash to make them mine.  How could I?  I mean, c’mon….I needed to fund my IRA, not to mention the starving children in the world, for chrissakes.

All I could hear in the back of my mind was, “Who do you think you are?”

I bought the darlings anyway, because I was tired of being who everyone else told me I should be.  That day, I took a stand for the woman I choose to be.

I still have them, meticulously kept in its black velvet case.

So, I didn’t need another pair of sunglasses.  But, did I want them? Absolutely!  So, I bought them.

Excitingly, I posted a picture of my purchase and was retweeted by Monsieur Tom Ford himself (hear the angels sing) with his stunning black glasses on my face.

Within hours, I received this email:


I just saw the picture of you wearing $400 sunglasses, and I just don’t get it.  This kind of purchase seems so wasteful and goes against your philosophy of simplicity.

Not every woman can purchase expensive glasses to feel beautiful and chic.  

Please keep it real.

First of all, for those of you who have said you can’t believe that I receive anything but love notes and roses, here’s proof.  When you stand for something, not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay (but I’ll save that topic for another blog post).

Second, I want to address this email.

There was a time in my life when I couldn’t fathom $400 for rent, so luxury sunglasses were definitely out of the question.

That was my real.

Yet, deep down, I craved a pair of Oliver Goldsmith shades ever since seeing Audrey Hepburn wear them in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. That longing (along with many others) asked that I see myself as worthy enough to have what I desire.

More than the purchase, it’s the woman you become in obtaining your heart’s desire that’s inspiring. (tweet it)  

But, let’s talk about sunglasses…

Many women will tell me that they settle for glasses from Target because they will lose or destroy them.  My thinking says:  I’d rather have one pair of stunning glasses that I deeply care for than 20 pairs of cheap ones that I just lose, scratch and discard mindlessly.  Now, that’s wasteful!

So, it begs the question:  what is simplicity? Is it living by the river with few possessions or is it loving what you love and truly appreciating and caring for what you have?

I can’t answer that for you.  It’s something every woman must define for herself, but I will tell you that there’s room in a simple life for luxurious things.

Finally, here’s the truth:  you don’t need a pair of $400 sunglasses (or a trip to Paris, a beautiful bottle of Veuve Cliquot or a pair of Jimmy Choos).  But, it’s the things in life that you don’t need but deeply desire that makes life worth living.

I have seen what happens to a woman when she buys something beautiful and luxurious for herself — she walks through her world as a Modern Day Icon.  And, trust me, the world responds to that energy — more opportunities, confidence and joie de vivre. 

In fact, that day, two of my friends walked out with their first pair of Tom Ford’s too!  And, check out how stunning they look.

Kendrick + Angela

French Kiss Life stands for a woman unapologetically loving what she loves.  That is part of her iconic appeal.  And, I will never apologize for anything I buy, and I hope you don’t either!

That’s how I’m keeping it real!

In Love,


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62 Responses to It’s About More Than the Purchase

  1. Tonya,

    Thank you for having the courage not to shrink from negative comments. Your bold and honest reply was inspiring and gave women the permission to love themselves luxuriously.


  2. Yes, thank you for this blog. I have always felt that simplicity and luxury go hand-in-hand. You can have just one stunning pair of sunglasses or ten dollar cheap ones that make you cringe when you look at pictures of yourself.

    But I’ll be honest and say I own a cheap pair of Target shades right now simply because my toddler keeps going through my things and destroying my nicer sunglasses. He totally has a thing for pushing boundaries and my buttons. But there’s nothing wrong with splurging on something of better quality and look, if you want to and can afford it. My theory is that it must be something that makes my heart say, “Heck yeah, go for it.” Otherwise, it’s a luxury that won’t make me feel anything but regret when the credit card bill arrives.

    • Hola Mayra! Those toddlers love sunglasses, eh? I love your internal measurement of what to buy and what to walk on by. Totally agree.



  3. Hi Tonya,
    When I saw the post on Facebook that Tom Ford re-tweeted your tweet, I was like OMG! I would have swooned!! I was so excited for you!

    This blog is somewhat timely, today I wrote in my SCS journal this observation: “Sometimes people behave badly and I realize it is not about me, nor is it directed towards me. I send them love silently because it is something they refuse to see about themselves”
    Enjoy the beach!!!
    xo, Marianne

    • Oh No Jennifer! Some fish is tres chic! Perhaps, that’s an occasion to purchase some cheaper ones, for the water! Or, maybe not! xoxo

  4. Tonya,

    Thank you for addressing this woman’s comments. I have been noticing something really sad that is happening in our world today. It seems like people that have done well for themselves are being beaten up for it. As a society we use to encourage it and now it’s like you did something wrong. Everyone has the right to enjoy the fruits of their labor regardless of what that is. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a beautiful pair of shoes or sunglasses. It is our life to enjoy in the manner that makes us happy.

    • Thank you Lisa! Sad, but true. But, there are also people who are celebrating and encouraging others, and that’s where I choose to focus. That’s what I adore about The French Kiss Life Club. Want to buy a Chanel suit? We will celebrate you for it!


  5. Tonya,

    Thank you for this blog post. I think this exactly follows your philosophy of French Kissing Life and investing in yourself. I think that if you have the means and can afford to spend the money on designer sunglasses (or handbags, shoes, etc) then why not. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about wanting a Tiffany necklace and know that I’m not going to purchase it until I have the cash saved up for it.

  6. Thank you Tanya ! Well said, you are so right! Luxury is choosing quality and taking care of it and no one should ever feel they need to apologize for what they value or want! I love this post! bravo!!!!Living well means different things to different people and let’s celebrate each other and the freedom to make that decision on our own! Sunglasses are not a small thing-something you put on your face that literally affects the way you see the world- it’s ok to choose a quality pair!

  7. Tanya, you are so very right. I am not at the point where I can afford multiple pairs of designer sunglasses, but I truly cherish my one pair of Prada’s! I do however personally view the ability to afford to choose your luxuries as a sign of strength and character. (And I stress the word afford!) My husband and I are working hard to pay down debt so we can begin to choose luxuries that are still a bit beyond our reach. It is strength and character that allow us to make decisions that help us to become financially secure. So while a pair of $400 sunglasses might not be my attainable luxury right now, you can bet I will not be apologizing for it when the time comes!

  8. We decide what we want, and I don’t see why anyone should have a thing to say about it. But, that’s just their opinion. If you consider the price of daily Starbuck’s coffee over the period of maybe a month or two, you got a new pair of Tom Ford’s, and hell, if you want both that is your personal decision. Your photo is gorgeous (as usual), and the Tom Ford sunglasses a perfect fit!

    • Well said Natalie! We all place our money where we choose. And, it’s nobody’s business except your own. As one of my students so beautifully said, the opposite is also true. If she finds value in the less expensive things that makes her feel amazing, then bravo to that too! xoxo

  9. I just love how you didn’t bite the bait. Your graceful response is inspiring. We don’t have to show up to everyone argurment/disagreement that we’re invited to. I just love it.

    • Oh my gosh Monique, I love what you said! “You don’t have to show up to every argument/disagreement that you are invited to.” I am going to share that nugget of wisdom with my teenagers. That is a true life lesson!

  10. Hello Tonya, I could not agree more with you! I would rather have one beautiful pair of sunglasses in which I feel wonderful than 20 cheap pairs that I only mildly like. I have had my Tom Ford’s for four years and they still look perfect to this day. It was truly worth the investment for me. I’d rather focus on quality versus quantity. Have a wonderful day and best wishes from Colorado! Kim

    • Kim (from Colorado!!!!)! Thank you. An interesting point: the more I invest in something, the more I value it. Fascinating, right? xoxo

  11. Amen to that, sister!
    An old friend of mine, a Heisman Trophy winner, once said to me, “They don’t try to tackle you unless you’re running with the ball.”
    Let’s keep on making touchdowns in our Tom Fords!

  12. Tonya, I love how you didn’t let this lady make you feel less than. Love how you stood your ground without confrontation. Every person’s choices are just that – their choices. We’re all on a different journey!

  13. Every smart and savvy woman knows what her own true desires our. Maybe for someone else it’s not a pair of sunglasses. Maybe it’s a retro bike with a purple banana seat or a bottle of Budweiser. To each his own and to each his own delight.The point I believe you are making is that you, as a self aware woman, get to choose what delights your heart and that’s why you are a beacon for all. LOVE YOU!

    • Toni, yes AND I also promote Tom Ford’s, but that’s me. But, I realize it’s not for every woman. Love you right back!

  14. Tonya,
    You hit the nail on the head! If one is in a place that can afford it, it is QUALITY over QUANTITIY. I feel that goes for everything in life, from relationships to sunglasses. I used to have many, many….MANY pairs of shoes. The money that I spent was stupid over the years. Now I own a few pairs of amazing quality shoes that hold up and stand the test of time. I will never have to replace them. It’s the same as my Chanel purse. I will pass that down to my daughter.

    What I have found is that those that complain and put down are those that have a deep desire to have the same. And that goes with everything from relationships to sunglasses also. I know that if someone has something that I love, I compliment them.

    If what you do for yourself makes you feel amazing, then just keep on doing it.

  15. Shannon, you are so right, and I send those women so much love. I’ve even had some that became dear clients! Your last statement sums it all up! xoxo

  16. Omg, I have had this conversation on several occasions about my luxury purchases to the point now I question those who question me, lol. I do not let my purchases define me nor do I purchase because of peer pressure. I make certain purchases because I want to. I’m the young lady who grew up in poverty without a mother nor father and was determined to be successful. I’m a nurse now and after budgeting if I want to make a purchase I do so. I also have had the saying QUALITY over QUANITY. Some don’t understand the concept and it’s okay; they don’t have access to my bank account and I don’t have access to theirs.

    • Szina, a fellow nurse! Your last line made me laugh, because it’s so true. And, I agree, our purchases don’t define us, but I’ll admit, I love the way certain things make me feel. That’s what determines whether I say yes or no. And, sometimes, my ‘yes’ is something from Target and sometimes, it’s from Saks. xoxo

  17. So happy for this post! When I was a student I was blessed to receive some money from the sale of some land that I had inherited from my father. It was mostly used to pay off educational debt but I used part to buy a Rolex watch. It was extravagant to many people. To me, it was representative of so much more- a gift in absentia is from my dad, my hard work in med school, and the satisfaction of a desire for something precious and beautiful. I type this note with that precious 30 year old watch on my wrist even today 30 years later. It was a desire and because it was quality and loved and desired I have taken exquisite care of it

  18. oops hit send too early……we all buy things for different reasons and with different budgets and I have taught my daughters to get the best they can for the money they have!

    • Martha, I bet you’ll have that Rolex for a lifetime and can pass it to your daughters. I love what it reminds you of…so beautiful!

  19. Tonya,

    Love this post and you.

    You have been very instrumental in teaching me how to love what I love unapologetically – and to give myself those things. Through your graceful example, I learned I could drink deeply from the beautiful things of this world, things my heart was so hungry for, and in doing that, I felt more myself than I ever have before. I felt REAL.

    And, as these things go, the more REAL I feel, the more authentic my engagement with all of life – from my friendships, to my relationship with my children and husband, to creating my art, to my coaching.

    But that’s not to say loving what you love and giving yourself what you love isn’t enough, because it is. It absolutely is. Period.

    Keep on keeping it real in that elegant, ease-ful, gorgeous way that only you can…



    • Leah, thank you dearly. You are the epitome of beauty and grace! Keep sharing THAT with the world, because we all need to be reminded that beauty is deeply desired by every human being!

  20. Hai Tonya,

    This is my first comment after receiving so many mails.
    I always wants to say something. But I’m not confident enough to post because I’m non native English speaker. I feel my English is not so good. (And sometimes I’m not sure that I’m understanding your posts correctly) I think I can understand basic English,not deep English like idioms,phrases etc. I want to sign up for things you are offering. But again I’m not confident enough to participate in live talks or something face to face. Your posts always fills my heart with positivity. And you are so beautiful & I like that you are so strong & confident,which I’m lacking.
    I hope someday soon I face this world with full confidence & do things I always dream of.

    P.s:I spent almost an hour to write this

    • Oh Aruna, thank you for posting. I teach my students that confidence comes through action, doing those things that scare you and learning and growing as a result! AND, I understand your comment perfectly. Please let us know if you ever want to join one of my programs, and we can discuss if it’s a fit for you. Sending you love!

  21. Hai Tonya,

    This is my first comment after receiving so many mails.
    I always wants to say something. But I’m not confident enough to post because I’m non native English speaker. I feel my English is not so good. (And sometimes I’m not sure that I’m understanding your posts correctly) I think I can understand basic English,not deep English like idioms,phrases etc. I want to sign up for things you are offering. But again I’m not confident enough to participate in live talks or something face to face. Your posts always fills my heart with positivity. And you are so beautiful & I like that you are so strong & confident,which I’m lacking.
    I hope someday soon I face this world with full confidence & do things I always dream of.

    P.s:I spent almost an hour to write this

    • Hi Aruna!

      I’m SO happy you commented. Your English is MUCH better than my French ;).

      Remember that I haven’t always been this way. I’ve cultivated confidence and positivity, so the moral of the story is this: if I can do it, so can you!

      Much love!

  22. Hi Tonya, I am happy that you have a fabulous vacation in Costa Rica!
    This post makes me remember that when I was a child, I used to wear second-hand clothes because we didn’t have much money. But once in a while my Mom spoiled me with such beautiful things. Now she is in heaven and I still treasure those gifts.
    She taught me to appreciate the quality in life and to surround myself with things that make me happy and inspired.
    Enjoy your sunglasses and all the little beautiful things that make you feel precious. You did such a good job with your life!
    Don’t you mind if I share my “education” in French Kissing Life on my blog: Happiness is so chic?
    Ciao, Celeste

  23. Tonya, you expressed your answer to that email with grace! I absolutely stand with you on it, cherie!
    I believe that if a woman deprives herself of pleasure and beauty–she starves. That is no way to live.
    I believe if there is something you want to buy that will bring you joy, pleasure, and add value to the beauty of your life, then, that is money that is well spent.

  24. What an eloquent response to the email. I agree – luxury is such a personal decision and one that shouldn’t sit in judgement with others. The glasses are fantastic and you look lovely in them. Enjoy and celebrate life!

    • Hello Talia! Totally agree. I have a worksheet that I give to clients to help them discover what their luxurious lives are, and it’s beautiful to see how we all value and enjoy different things.

  25. I’m new around here and I just wanted to send some FKL love out to the writer of the email. If around half a grand for sunglasses seems wasteful to you, then rock on! You can surely FKL with cheaper sunglasses and probably more expensive ones if that’s your thing. Some commenters felt you were negative/argumentative/hater and so forth and I just kept wondering what you might think if you showed up around here to check out the blog/comments. Maybe I’m not the typical FKL reader, but the truth is if you didn’t tell me those were $400.00 sunglasses…. I wouldn’t know. I just see pics of some beautiful ladies in sunglasses that must be on this site because they want to love and squeeze everything they can out of this one precious life experience in the most beautiful way possible. I hope whatever you spend your money on makes you have awesome thoughts about yourself which is really all this is about.

    • Well, hello Lisa! Welcome to the FKL community. And, if you appreciate beauty and joie de vivre, then you’re very much the typical reader. Your last statement hit the jack pot. Buy what you love; love what you buy! xoxo

  26. And quality sunglasses protect your eyes. Why bother with a cheap pair that is not up to the job. Now that’s wasted dollar.

  27. Tonya, great post 🙂 I finally made it to the point in my life to ‘splurge’ in some designer shades – with prescription lenses (ouch). Were they expensive? You bet… BUT they make me feel pretty and best of all: I can see when I drive! Lol! I also have my cheapy grocery store pair for the beach/lake so I won’t destroy my good ones. I agree 100% with you on purchasing quality items vs. cheapest option ONLY when you can afford it. Life is short… Live it up while you can. I love your blog and emails… Thanks for keeping me motivated to French Kiss Life 🙂

  28. It’s wonderful to splurge on yourself – once in a while. It’s a break from putting everyone’s needs first. Sunglasses and bags are your best friends. Regardless of your age, your weight, your height – they are there for you. I felt guilty about buying an expensive prescription glasses but the rose gold and leather material was hard to resist. The first thing people see when they look at you are your eyes. With this purchase, I didn’t need to wear other jewelry because it would be a distraction. I have received so many compliments. People asked me where I bought it. My reward: I’m no longer blind as a bat and I have a beautiful and unique piece of eye jewelry which is all I need to complete my look.

  29. I have to agree, I would rather buy one pair of absolutely stunning sun glasses that I adore and can keep for a very long time. I also think we deserve that special purchase. We may have to save a bit or it may take a bit longer to get that fabulous pair of glasses but when we do finally get them we will enjoy them that much more and will look after them and I think that is very chic! I think it also represents simplicity and quality over quantity which is very much the french kiss life philosophy!

  30. Never apologise for something that gives you pleasure in such a harmless way. It is up to each person to decide what is “worth it” for them.
    Whether it is $400 on a pair of sunglasses or a silk scarf, or just $25 on a lipstick, YOU get to decide how to spend your money – just don’t go into debt 😉
    I really want the reissue 2.55 Chanel bag because I know it will be “the one” instead of my “dozen” that I currently own. No, I cannot afford to buy it yet, but I will.
    And I will love it and not care that others might find this a little too extravagant for the small town I live in where no one cares about Chanel.
    Because it is my life and I only have this, so I get to live it the way I feel is best for me.


    PS: I am new here but greatly enjoying the input and gentle reminders to do just that.

    Merci Tonya

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