Monday, October 26, 2009

Why the hot new bags are rarely for me

The "it" bags: The hardware. The hanging “stuff.” The volume. The cache. As trendy as they are ... usually not for me.

Why not? First you need to know what I want in a handbag.

I do not like changing handbags or maintaining a stable of handbags. I’d rather be talking to a friend, reading Vogue or Inc., or even watching NCIS. And, when I used to change bags to go with each outfit, I would inevitably leave something crucial in the last used bag. So today I have only 3 handbags: one leather, one fabric (for summer), and one evening.

With such editing, each bag must meet stringent criteria. Each must be versatile, simple, classic, stylish, top opening, small enough to fit into my briefcase but large enough to carry everything I need.

To be versatile enough to carry with everything, it must be simple. The first problem with the “it” bags. They’ve got so much “stuff” on them that one’s wardrobe must be very, very simple or there will be visual chaos in one’s costume. I’d rather carry a simple handbag and allow for variety in my clothes.

Carrying only one handbag for the whole season also means the color must go with everything in one’s wardrobe. This usually, but not always, means a neutral color. For 99% of my accessories I go with black. It goes with everything: brown, colors, grey – and even navy. (While navy and black fabrics next to each other always makes one or the other look dead, black leather does not have this problem.)

You can, especially for summer, use a color that will go with everything, but this is tricky for a couple of reasons. First, you will probably need to look for a color you don’t wear often. Why? Because rarely are two reds the same or two purples or two pinks, etc. Second, colors, especially light ones, show marks and dirt more easily. Many is the expensive white, light or colored bag I have seen a client’s closet soiled with a blotch that won’t come out. And there they sit, ruined, but so new and expensive the client can’t bear to part with them. Chaos. Clutter. Heartbreak. I don’t do that to myself.

Why classic? The only thing I hate more than changing handbags is shopping for handbags. Buying classic means I only have to go through this ordeal every few years.

That said, I am always on the look out for handbags. I can’t wait until the bag is ruined to start shopping because, with all these criteria, it takes awhile to find one that’s right.

Why top opening? For business – and actually for most things – I only carry one bag. The look of two or three totes strapped from a girl’s shoulder with a handbag to boot is not attractive. Or efficient. Or professional. So I make sure my daily handbag fits into my briefcase or tote. And, if one is to use if from one’s briefcase or tote, a top opening makes it easy and elegant to access. A flap or other creative opening makes it hard to retrieve one’s wallet or pen or other needed item.

One final note: While I love wearing to-die-for clothes or accessories as much as the next girl, I do not have to do so. It is more important for me to have an interesting life than a killer wardrobe. I like to buy functional, versatile and stylish clothes and combine them creatively. But once I put them on, I want to forget them. I want to spend my days and evenings engaged with the fascinating people and events around me, not thinking about my clothes. And, as I said, I have better use for my time at home than changing and maintaining multiple handbags.

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