Bags.The very mention of this accessory, strike that, this necessity, will usually elicit some pretty strong opinions. Do you favor something small and efficient, or do you prefer a bag that will fit everything from a wallet to an IPad, to wine in a water bottle, and that box of Junior Mints that you intend to sneak into the movies--oh wait, that's me. I must confess, I am somewhat of a bag junkie, but I doubt I'm alone.
A bag, a purse, a pocket-book (that's an oldie), call it what you want, is like our own inanimate personal assistant. We rely on it to keep our life in order--it keeps our phone handy, it safely stores our cash and cards, holds on to our lipstick, and--in dodgy circumstances--can fend off unwanted advances. I've seen women wield bags around like ninjas, when need be. The best of bag intentions, however, can be challenged when the owner treats it like a black hole of accessories, throwing everything in and then having to dump the entire contents out just to find her car keys -- old receipts, tic-tacs, and tampons making an embarrassing appearance in the middle of the floor. The latter happened to me once in front of a group of 12 year old boys--by the look on their faces, you would've thought I dumped a shrunken head at their feet.
This all too familiar situation can easily be fixed if you know what to look for when shopping for your next bag. Any decent bag should offer a few key design elements to help keep your stuff relatively organized and more importantly, accessible. Let's start with the bag's interior layout --look for one or more slip pockets, as well as a zippered pocket. The slip pockets work well for smaller things that you want to keep handy, but not necessarily in your wallet --business cards, your metro card, and those tic-tacs to name a few. An inside pocket with a zip closure offers you a bit more security for items that you can't chance losing. Small leather goods, like a little clutch or crossbody bag, will often feature a credit card wall on the inside. I love these because they allow you to bring your wallet's essentials, like credit cards and i.d., without having to fit that overstuffed wallet inside your small bag. One of our favorite go-to leather lines at the store is Hobo. Hobo has been making bags for close to 25 years and has mastered that delicate balance of form and function. Their design staff consistently updates style features and colors, keeping their leather line always fresh, fashion forward, and user-friendly.
Ok, so now that you've got the interior of your bag sorted out, let's consider the exterior. FIrst things first, what's your budget? Are you a girl that likes to carry a signature bag that every fashionista on the street will notice, sacrificing two months of food and utilities just to pay for it? Or are you more practical, happy just to have something that does the job--no fuss, no muss? Are you looking for something that has a pocket or two on the outside, or do you favor a polished look, preferring to keep everything safely stowed inside. The good news is that there is a bag out there to fit every budget and every style. You can find style and utility if you just know what to look for. So, with that said, let's turn our attention to shapes and sizes....
There was a study done a few years ago that examined the weight of an average handbag--avec contents. Researchers were surprised to find that most women are schlepping handbags around that weigh roughly the same as a small dog--no big surprise to a seasoned bag lady. This is where the style of bag you choose can make a big difference, and perhaps save you from pesky orthopedic issues down the road. I've met women that flatly refuse to carry a big bag, claiming that they'll just fill it with a bunch of needless stuff and it'll get too heavy to carry. Well, good for them, but some of us like a big bag and yes, it can get a bit heavy because an IPad, phone, your boyfriend's wallet, and a thing of pepper spray tend to add some extra weight. The key is to find a style that distributes the weight of the bag in a way that doesn't put a permanent dent in your shoulder (for the record,I am a big fan of anything that can be worn in a crossbody fashion).
Convertible bags are fantastic because they feature a short handle or strap, as well as a long strap that can be used when you want to wear your bag crossbody style--your body will thank you later when you spread 8lbs of handbag across your body instead of hanging it all on one side. Satchels and totes are also great options, but won't necessarily leave you hands free, so again, think about your needs. This would be a good time to mention clutches. Sure, you can find clutches with little add-on straps, but a true clutch is meant to be just that, something you clutch. I love clutches--they're not super practical but I can forgive them that because they're just so feminine and classic. Clutches are great when you need something dressy and small, with just enough room to fit your lipstick and phone. A clutch won't interfere with your outfit, either. Lately, clutches have been making somewhat of a comeback, over-sized ones cropping up in urban street style. You may not use one everyday, but they're great to have in your bag arsenal.
At the end of the day, your bag choice is a very personal one. Only you really understand what your needs are, and if toting around that Hermes bag makes you happy, then by all means, go for it. If you're lucky, you may even have one named after you......
Pictured here, the iconic Hermes Kelly Bag named after, you guessed it, Grace Kelly.