Posts Tagged: accessories

Reader Request: Handbag Basics

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Melinda dropped this question into the suggestion box:

I’d be interested in a post on purses and bags. I always feel ridiculous carrying any kind of purse. If it’s big, I imagine myself as a 4 year old girl playing dress up. If it’s small, it just seems too twee and fiddly. I admire women who can carry contrasting colored or interestingly structured bags as if they are natural parts of their wardrobe (instead of, oh-god-I-need-somewhere-to-stick-my-wallet-and-phone). So I’d like to see sort of a “Getting Started for the Bag Wary” post.

I am simultaneously excited to tackle this request, and extremely daunted. I am still fairly new to a multi-handbag lifestyle and all things bag still thrill me, so I’d love to share my tips. But even with my thoughts here and yours in the comments, I’m not sure we can cajole Melinda into overcoming her bag reluctance. Well, let’s try and see how we do.

What do you need to carry with you?

Most of us take things with us when we leave the house, and many of us take more than can fit into our pockets. So if you’re curious about adding a bag or two to your life, the first thing you need to consider is the specific things that you need to cart around. How big and heavy are they? Are any of them awkwardly shaped? (For instance, do you carry a tablet with you? Is your wallet the size and shape of a brick? Do you need to keep a pair of flats on you at all times?) If you are curious about the multi-bag route, can you compartmentalize your stuff so it can be switched easily and quickly between bags?

Your stuff will help you determine how big your bag needs to be, how durable its material needs to be, and which shapes just won’t work.

What do you want your bag to do?

Carry your stuff, I know. But secondary bag considerations may include: Look corporate and professional, work with your winter coat, enhance your outfits, go with everything you own, express your creativity. This bag is going to travel with you wherever you go. What is its visual job? What elements of your body or style does it need to work harmoniously with?

What are your comfort priorities?

Since this bag is going to travel with you wherever you go, it would be great if carrying it didn’t irritate the hell out of you. Do you need to have both hands free? Shoulder bags only for you. Back or neck pain? A lightweight crossbody or stylish backpack, perhaps. Can’t stand fighting with your parka and purse strap? Try a hand-held design. If you’re not currently a handbag person, think about other bag styles you’ve tried – messenger bags, school knapsacks, briefcases. Which of these felt natural and comfortable?

I’ll use myself as an example: I can do a handheld bag, but am much happier if it also has a shoulder strap in case I unexpectedly need my hands free. I generally prefer a bag that has a wide strap so it doesn’t cut into my shoulder, and ideally it would be long enough to sling over my shoulder but short enough that I can carry it in-hand without dragging it on the ground. I have one rectangular bag (this style), the rest are flat. I don’t care if bucket bags are all the rage, if a bag bonks against my side like a tetherball I see red. I need my bag to hug my side.

Which bag styles appeal to you?

Hobos, satchels, totes, crossbodies … got a favorite design? Try not to think about this until you’ve considered your stuff-hauling and comfort priorities. You may love the look of a frame bag, but if you can’t wedge your stuff into it and need a shoulder-slung style, you’ll have to love it from afar.

And then? There’s gonna be some trial and error. If you haven’t habitually carried a handbag in the past, it will take some time to get used to it. And once you’ve gotten used to it, you’ll probably discover a few things about your bag that drive you bananas. You need to know your use patterns before you can really hone in on the perfect bag. (Having to deal with top zippers is my pet peeve. Trying to unzip a bag to reach a ringing phone while simultaneously balancing the bag makes for an odd little jerky dance. For me, anyway.)

So what should Melinda do? I’d highly recommend either borrowing a few bags from a bag-loving family member or friend, or thrifting a couple of promising shapes and sizes. Explore a handful of styles, and try to carry each for a couple of days before passing judgment. Before you can start making your bag an element of your outfit, you need to find out which style suits your needs and get used to carrying it. And honestly, people who incorporate bags as outfit elements generally LOVE handbags. That route is not for everyone. There’s nothing wrong with having one versatile purse for 99% of your life and a sparkly clutch for the other 1%. (Clutches can be thrifted!)

Hopefully that was helpful, but I’d love your input, too. Do you remember how you became accustomed to carrying a handbag, and which styles you tried before you found your ideal? Or are you just now trying to figure all of this out and have other tips to share?

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Image via 6pm.com

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This Week I Love …

 

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Lockhart Wrks.

A month or so ago, I was on the hunt for some matte gold or brass jewelry. Etsy is always my first stop for jewelry, so I tootled around in there a bit until I found Rebecca’s shop. And friends, if I had bales of money I would’ve bought every single piece. Really. Her design style is such a marvelous mix of edgy and delicate, tough and feminine, and the pieces are beautifully made. I know because I’ve ordered three so far, including the Ring & Brass Dagger earrings shown above. And I’m sure I’ll order more in time. Here are a few of her recent creations:

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Industrial Pendant Necklace with Black Spikes – $40

This is another of the pieces I bought, and I ADORE it. I upgraded to the 28″ chain so it hangs a bit lower than shown here, and it is just about my favorite piece of jewelry right now. Lightweight, eye-catching, badass, totally affordable.

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Arrow Drop Earrings – $35

I love that most Lockhart Wrks earrings are either available in multiple sizes or manageable lengths and shapes. These guys are 3.5″ which is on the long side, but not veering into shoulder-duster territory. Totally dig the mixed metals and turquoise accents.

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Triangle Bracelet with Burgundy Chain – $30

Yep. Burgundy chain. And such a simple, elegant design. Perfect for you minimalists out there.

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Large Double Dagger Earrings – $38

Pretty sure these will be my next purchase. They mirror the shape of the necklace, but have thoughtful, subtle differences like the tiny bit of chain and mottled spikes. Ach, I love these so much.

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Patinated Chevron Necklace – $38

This necklace is the perfect shape to fit into v-necked shirts and sweaters. Each pendant is totally unique, and Rebecca will email you a photo of the one she plans to send you beforehand so you can make sure you love it.

Hope you’ll take a look at Lockhart Wrks and maybe pick up a piece or two for yourself!

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Walkies!

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After a rainy weekend, my pups were very happy to get out for a nice long walk once it let up. I don’t mind walking in the rain, but they hate it. They hate wearing raincoats even more.

Not me. I fell in love with this Sandro jacket when we were visiting London in 2013, and have never regretted the purchase. It’s perfect for our Southern California climate. It’s lightweight enough to wear even into late spring, but now in “winter” (such as we get in LA) I’ll layer sweaters underneath for warmth. The charcoal grey NYDJ jeans were one of my best 2014 purchases. They are comfortable, versatile and a nice break from blue denim. Plus, they don’t show the dog hair as much. ;-p

Earrings: Argento Vivo, no longer available, similar
Scarf: Eileen Fisher
Jacket: Sandro, no longer available, similar.
Sweater: J.Crew
Jeans: NYDJ
Bracelet: French Kande
Boots: Aquatalia by Marvin K, similar

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These boots may be suede, but they are actually weatherproof. I’ve stepped in big puddles while wearing them (not intentionally) and my feet stayed dry. They’re supremely comfortable too.

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Remember that old show business saying, “never work with children or animals?” These two are scene-stealers for sure, but it’s not often I get them to sit this still for the camera!

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Already Pretty contributor Une Femme is fifty-seven, married to the same wonderful monsieur since 1995, the mother of a special-needs teenager and two hooligan dogs, a full-time administrative professional, a coffee-holic, Paris-obsessed, native Californian, and a petite and curvy femme d’un certain age. She believes that personal style is an essential form of self-expression, and started her blog, une femme d’un certain âge, in 2007 hoping to start a conversation about style for women over 50.

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