bag love

Here is the latest: a Cynthia Rowley bag

Yes – I’m a bag lady! Handbags, that is. And also the little organizing bags that go inside. I have to say, being a bit OCD that I am, I am always on the lookout for the perfect bag to keep me organized.

Isn’t this amazing? I love the rustic leather, the sturdy zippers, the cross-body strap and the outside pocket (great for my cell and easy to get to when the phone rings while you are out and about). I can also fit the handles on my shoulder, making it secure in crazy, crowd situations where you want to watch out for pickpockets – my husband appreciated this feature!

I have a few rules for my handbags:

Rustic leather details

It must have a great leather – I love the texture and patina of old leather bags, plus they last so well that it seems you really get your money’s worth out of them. I have some bags that I have had for a really long time that I still pull out sometimes – they seem to get better with age!  The truth is, you can spot a quality material in a bag from a long way off and I think that everything you are wearing looks better when you have a great handbag (a bit like great shoes too!)

It must have good hardware – real metal zippers, not the nylon type. This is where you will see the difference in a handbag lasting a long time – good hardware lasts.

Quality hardware looks good and lasts longer

It should function. Really, this is the most important. And this can change or vary depending on what you are doing, where you are going, the time of your life and your role, and what you need to carry with you. Being a wife and mom, as well as a business girl, it seems like I feel that is is necessary to be prepared and I probably carry more than I need, but it is sure nice to have it when you do need it! Some bags are great for hauling, but you get tired carrying them. Some feel great to carry, but don’t fit all that you need. Some seem like they will do the trick, but then don’t hold up to the task. And sometimes, you just want to change up and not look the same all the time. That is why I have a wardrobe of handbags to choose from – and I will never quit looking for the next great bag!

For me, I avoid having names/initials/labels from the designer on my bag. If it is small and doesn’t advertise, but instead is like a signature on a piece of art, that is okay, but in my opinion, if you wear advertising, you should get paid for it. The handbag should enhance your look, not borrow style from someone else’s brand name.

The handbag should have a little attitude in the design – now this is a bit more subjective, but I like my attitude subtle, but a little edgy. Something in the design should be worth a comment – the color, the material, the shape or the detail. It is fun when people stop and comment on your handbag – it says a little bit about you in your style choice – fun or cool or bohemian, you make the call.

What’s in your bag? Here is my stuff . . .

Now, let’s talk about what is in your bag. This is a great feature that many bloggers write about, like this post at three pink dots.

My personal bag usually has a few other “bag bags” inside. I find that it is easier to clean up, switch handbags, but most importantly, find what you need quickly and easily, when you don’t have to practically empty it out to find the one thing on the bottom of your bag.

This is what I was carrying recently, but the hair-on-hide detail is a bit itchy on the arm in the summer

First is my wallet: I like the kind that has a good metal zipper (again, quality lasts) and I prefer one that is longer so you don’t have to fold up your cash. I don’t like having to take it all out in front of someone to see what I have or find the right amount. It should be like a file, that you can reach in and just get what you need. Safer too. It needs pockets for the money cards on one side and the “store” cards on the other. Now don’t get me started – why we need to have a card for every individual retailer on the planet frustrates me to no end! That can almost be another post in and of itself on how to work around this issue. But I do keep a few in the wallet, and the rest I put on my smartphone. But you do have to have room for those! So your wallet needs those pockets, but also room for some receipts and change. The hard part is being disciplined to clean it out each week – YES you do have to clean it up, either as you go or after the fact, but you will feel so much better when you do!

This turquoise Michael Kors is my spring season bag – a wake-up color for my look after wearing lots of black in winter!

Here are the other “bag bags” that I carry:

A cosmetic bag. Nothing is more frustrating then a melted chapstick, or broken/loose bottle that leaks all over and ruins your bag. I keep one zip-top cosmetic bag that has a water resistant material for these items. Mine has hand sanitizer, neosporin, band-aids, chapstick, ibuprofen, inhaler and a hair clip. When I was gone longer portions of the day, I used to carry some makeup items, but I don’t use them much anymore since I have better products that I start with in the morning, so I guess this is a bit more of a “first aid kit” but it does get a workout with having a family.

Quality is always in style – can you believe that I have had this Coach handbag for over 15 years. My teenager is begging me for it!

One for “girl stuff”- Supplies are a fact of life, so this bag has a few of each, a little travel brush/mirror, as well as tissues and a Tide stick (you really gotta love this thing!). I use the mesh bag from Container store – I can see what’s inside, but it isn’t too obvious and embarrassing, and it keeps everything clean and usable.

Mesh Bags from Container Store (also come in other sizes)

One for my techno stuff (another mesh bag, different color) . I keep a spare flash drive and memory card with me, sewing kit, an extra phone cord and charger, sharpie pen, tape measure, and my handi-dandi swiss army knife (a girl’s best friend I say!)

A glasses case – I usually wear my sunglasses, so I don’t keep a separate case for them, but I do have one that will fit both my eyeglasses and sunglasses when necessary, with a cleaner cloth of course!

A trio of fold-up shopping bags. Mine are the 75 cent ones from Ikea, but I like the simple style and that they weigh almost nothing. And if I have them with me in my bag, I will use them (I never remember to get the ones out of the trunk). I like that these fold into their own little pocket too and are not too complicated. Did you know that you get a 5 cent discount for each bag you use at Target? Hopefully more retailers will do this to reward those who are prepared!

Don’t want to take your good leather to the beach? How about a little nautical inspired stripe in canvas – classic and no worries!

One last zipper bag for the coupons. Some stores have discount coupons and it is handy to have them with you. Not all retailers can take the smartphone coupons yet, so I keep these with me (not the grocery ones, those are a separate trip!). My bag is a small pencil bag and I am so glad not to have those coupons in my wallet anymore!

This little Francesco Biasia bag with braided handles is not a “run around” bag, but is great for going out and professional image days.

That’s it – when I want to switch out bags, or clean the miscellaneous clutter out of a bag, it is easy to take these few items out and consolidate. Also, I have gotten used to how these little “bag bags” feel and can find what I need without looking – bonus!

So I shared with you my philosophy about choosing a handbag and my handbag organization methods.

But overall, a handbag is something a woman carries for a few reasons: the way we dress does not give us the pockets to carry what we need; our being ladies often requires more supplies than men carry, and our familes and lifestyle usually require someone to have more than just a wallet.

A canvas hobo bag. Packable and bleachable, a good travel choice.

That being said, a handbag is part of what we use all the time to accomplish our busy lives; it serves as our home-away-from-home for us. So you should be mindful of choosing something that serves it’s purpose well for you and enhances your life. It should be something that makes you happy every time you use it. And since you use it so much, it should be an expression of you too.

So go ahead. Check out what you have been carrying around. What does it say about you? Does it work for you?

It’s all about bag love.

PS: I love to browse the handbags at Marshall’s – many of my most recent finds have been from there.


2 thoughts on “bag love

  1. I have the same cynthia rowley handbag that you have pictured at the beginning of your post. I am also a nut when it comes to quality of a purse. Leather, stitching, quality of zippers etc……. I have a huge habit of sniffing a bag to check out the quality of the leather as well. I know kinda strange, but it makes me feel better about my purchase;) Another designer that I was in love with before her purse went down hill was Claudia Firenze, the quality of her purses was AMAZING and I stocked up on about 10 of them before other people became hip to them in my city, then they disappeared for a while. They eventually came back but the quality went so down hill. I love finding treasures in my neighborhood TJmaxx’s and Marshall’s purse areas.

    • I don’t think sniffing the leather is odd – if you are going to live with that bag, it better be nice! I did have a white Firenze bag once, but it got stained by osmosis sitting next to something damp, and I could never get it white again (so sad). Thanks for your comment!

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