Friday, 23 March 2012


Functional Choice 

Closet Content Analysis: Handbags

NICE                   NO THANKS         NOTE-WORTHY            NEED          NEW

She had the loaded handbag of someone who camps out and seldom goes home, or who imagines life must be full of emergencies. 
-       Mavis Gallant

I am taking Mavis Gallant's quote personally and it isn’t so much emergencies as it is necessities. Some days I have a thermos of coffee, a bottle of water, my medical supplies, a snack or two and an extra pair of shoes in my handbag, not to mention my wallet, notebook and cell phone.

Lancel Premier Flirt Bag in "smoked grey"
NICE: I have respected the French design house of Lancel from the first time I saw one of their retail outlets in Bordeaux. I find great pleasure in carrying my new "smoked grey" Premier Flirt bag because it is not as identifiable as Coach or Louis Vuitton, particularly in Canada. There are only four retail outlets in Canada and none in the United States that carry Lancel. I had narrowed it down to the Le Brigitte Bardot or the Flirt and opted for the classic over the more playful. I bought it in the fall of 201l while in Paris. I use it everyday and I can see myself carrying it for a very long time. 

NO THANKS: You may think it odd, but my least favourite handbag was a small Louis Vuitton clutch. Because it was small, I used it as an evening or "going for dinner" bag. I bought it in Athens, Greece with the first cheque I ever received for my writing. I guess I bought it because it was Louis Vuitton and that somehow signified something to me at the time. However, I was always uncomfortable carrying the signature logo. In my trips back and forth between France and Canada, living in three different places in 2011 as well as several hotels, I somehow misplaced it. I can truly say I am not upset, except there's some regret because of the price. I probably will sell it if it finds its way back to me or if someone picked it up, I hope they enjoy carrying it more than I did.

Black and Grey Coach zippered bag
NOTE-WORTHY: This is truly a bag, a bag with a zipper. My black logo printed Coach bag is probably the most NOTE-WORTHY handbag I have owned. It’s not because I like it so much but rather how functional it was and still is. Even though it is well-worn and threadbare in places, I still use it. It has become my travel handbag. Coach bags have become the "Vegas purchase" for most Canadian women. I have heard of fabulous deals at Vegas outlet stores and have two other Coach bags as confirmation of that. Unfortunately for me I got this one at the Calgary Holt Renfrew back in 2008 albeit for 25% off at a mid-summer sale.

NEED: A brightly coloured satchel-style, maybe purple, red, yellow or bright blue, that will hold my 15 inch laptop in addition to everything else I need.

Smart Bags brand distributed by ACI Brands Inc. in Canada
NEW: My husband finished an ESL teaching contract in March and his students gifted me with a handbag. I graciously accepted it, but I felt a tad guilty. Here are these new Canadians, who have better uses for their money than gifting me; however, I am pleased to receive this purse, which is proportioned to my size and has adequate compartments inside. NOTE-WORTHY that the SB logo for Smart Bags looks very much like another popular logo.

Handbag Shopping Tips and Hints:
I have never given proportion much thought when it came to handbags. I am probably considered too small to be carrying the Lancel bag but I have always carried large bags. Therefore I can not preach what I do not practise. Nonetheless, the “rule” is that one should carry a bag that is in proportion to one’s body not to one’s stuff.

Buy the best that you can afford. I only have a few handbags, not all are name brands, but I do prefer leather or a high quality synthetic. I have purchased cheap synthetics and after one sub-zero temperature winter, cracks and tears were common place. I'd rather not waste my money on synthetics.

Check the interior for zippered compartments.  Are there enough for your necessities? Too many of us buy handbags simply for the look or colour and then realize that the interior does not accommodate our needs. I like to have a zippered compartment that is large enough to hold my wallet rather than letting it be loose in my bag. It makes me feel more secure.

With that in mind, make sure your future handbag is secure. Can the strap go across your body so that it sits in front of you when you are in crowded spaces, especially touristy areas? If it's a bucket bag, can it be closed securely enough so that a hand could not easily find its way in?  That's why your wallet needs to be in a zipped pocket inside your bag. Better to think about these things in the shop when you are buying a bag rather than after you have had your wallet stolen in the subway.

One step up from perfume, the handbag is also the most accessible item an ordinary working woman can afford from a very exclusive house. Status bags are a cheap thrill, comparatively speaking, for those who want business class but are living coach.
-       Anna Johnson

What are your NICE handbags and which ones do you say NO THANKS to?

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