Study: What your Gucci handbag is really saying

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Each year, Americans spend over $250 billion on women's luxury products with the average woman acquiring three new handbags a year.

But instead of designer products being used to express style, boost self esteem or signal status, University of Minnesota researchers say women who flaunt designer products are really trying to say: "back off my man."

After a series of five experiments featuring nearly 650 women, the studies revealed women’s luxury products often function as a signaling system directed at other women who pose a threat to their romantic relationships.

"We found that a woman who is wearing luxury items and designer brands is perceived to have a more devoted partner and as a result other women are less likely to flirt with him," said Carlson School of Management PhD student Yajin Wang. "Regardless of who actually purchased the items, other women inferred that the man had something to do with it and is thus more devoted to her."

The study also confirms a well-perceived notion that women show off not for other men, but for other women.

"The fact that most women’s luxury products are aimed to impress other women helps explain why men have a hard time figuring out if a woman’s handbag costs $50 or $5,000," Associate Professor Vladas Griskevicius said.

Not buying it? You're not alone.

Cosmopolitan reviewed the findings and published this headline: Stupid Sexist Study: Designer Duds Keep Other Women Off Your Man.

“I buy things because I enjoy them and the way I look in them. It has nothing to do with how I feel about my husband or other women around me, so I think it’s a little silly,” a shopper told CBS New York.

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