… my lovely handbags.
I’ve gotten several requests that relate to how I pick my bags – both for purchase and for daily wear – so I thought I’d tackle both at once today. I spent most of my life as a single bag-carrier, focusing my collector’s eye on shoes and feeling no desire to expand my collection beyond a single oversized black leather hobo. But a stylish friend mentioned that bags afford you the opportunity to incorporate another color into your palette, or introduce a new pattern or texture, or even change the overall feel of your look. That message seeped in over the years and my interest in having multiple bags to choose from was piqued. Bags are accessories, and they really do contribute to your ensembles. I think I overlooked them for years because I felt like I spent so little time actually carrying my bags. I’d carry them from car to work, stash in a drawer, and not use them again until it was time to go home. Never mind that I schlepped them around all weekend and anytime I went out after work … it just didn’t seem important.
But now it does. Since I’m far more likely to be running to five different meetings or errands in a single day, I spend more time carrying my bags. And since I’m an admitted color fiend, I’ve had a whale of a time tracking down bags in various shades so that I can add more dimensions to my outfits.
So there’s your background. Now let’s dig into the questions of choice.
How do I choose which bags to purchase?
I really have two main criteria:
- Is it big enough?
- Is it a color I love?
For ages I had strict rules about which styles would work, most of which had to do with how the bag could be carried. I wanted a strap that was long enough to go over my shoulder when I had my winter coat on, and short enough that I could carry the bag in hand, arm extended, without it scraping the ground. I still try to stick to that short list, but have found that I really only need to wear my bags on my shoulder when I’m walking for long distances. So I’ve relaxed the rules a bit and have a couple of bags that can be carried in-hand only.
In terms of color, well friends, I’m just a sucker for color. And if I see a bag I love and the price is right and it’s in a shade that I don’t already own, I typically save up as quickly as I can and nab it. I love being able to choose from magenta, teal, and navy in addition to black and brown. I’ve got a polka dot satchel and a leopard-print bag, too, but most prints don’t appeal. I prefer solid colors that complement the colors in my wardrobe.
Brands vary widely. I’ve thrifted handbags, bought from mid-market stores like Banana Republic, and eBayed a TON of fancy-pants brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs and Rebecca Minkoff. (Tips for how to shop on eBay here. Also see this comment for eBaying tips.) I have one straw bag that I adore (thrifted!) and the rest are leather. If I’m looking at a bag online, I always check measurements as I prefer my bags roomy. Depth is the real killer, and anything less than 4″ is likely to be cramped. Other measurements are anywhere from 9″ to 14″ depending on design.
How do I choose which bags to carry?
I have a couple of smallish bags, but the vast majority could hold a watermelon, a puppy, and a set of encyclopedias. Size is seldom an issue anyway because the same items go into each bag: Wallet, checkbook, makeup bag, sunglasses case, keys, phone, business card case. (I generally stash gum and tissues in as many bags as possible, as I’m eternally in search of one or the other!) So I select my bags to either match or complement my outfit. The old question of match vs. go.
Although neither outfit includes actual polka dots, both have loads of black so this bag matches.
Neither of these outfits has any teal, but both have lots of blues and/or purples which complement the teal, so this bag “goes.”
I will also use bags as an excuse to add an additional color on occasion. My bright red MAB Mini is the most likely pop-of-color candidate.
But honestly, much of it comes down to my mood and the mood of the outfit. Structured, ladylike clothes get top-handle briefcase-like bags. Slouchy sweaters and big boots get soft hobos. I am lucky to have so many fun bags to choose from and rarely find that I don’t have a bag that works with whatever I’m wearing. Or pretty darned close.
Are you a lover of bags? How do you pick which ones to buy? (Even if you only buy one and use it until it falls to pieces!) If you have multiple bags, how do you select one for the day?
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