I've always loved bags and been enthralled with them as far back as early childhood. Around the age of four or five I was given a small, white, wicker basket purse as a birthday gift. It was one of my most precious belongings and I loved to put little things into it and carry it around. I recall feeling particularly fabulous when I carried it while also wearing hot pink lacy knee socks. A few years after that came the little navy, red and white bag I have mentioned in another post. I also recall having saved up two dollars with which to purchase a red vinyl shoulder bag complete with toy cosmetics which was featured in the Sears Christmas Wish Book. I was so disappointed to be told that they'd run out of stock and I couldn't buy one, but I very happily got myself the grown up equivalent, a locally made red leather satchel shown here but no cosmetics, real or otherwise were included.
At the age of ten my very stylish grandmother decided it was the right time to give me a real purse. For Christmas I received a beautiful brown leather shoulder bag which several months later I lost while on a family summer vacation. I am still mourning that bag. It looked somewhat like this one.
Two years after that clutches were in style, particularly a foldover clutch with a handle. Mine was brown leather with a faux tortoise shell handle and a gift from the same grandmother. All the girls at my school wanted this style. We carried these clutches tucked under the armpit and this was perhaps my first experience with something fashionable being a bit of a bother.
With memories of my clutch purse from 1980 still fresh in my 47 year old mind, I am not much tempted by the current mania for them. Yes, they look stylish when dangled from the fingertips of fashion editors dashing about the city streets, but I need a handbag that holds onto me as much as I hold onto it. This makes totes with long straps, shoulder bags and cross body bags my preferred style. While I've bought bags in secondhand and consignment shops, in the end it has always been a matter of settling for something just because it's less expensive and it's second hand. I've stopped doing that. All the bags I have now were bought new. I wouldn't hesitate to buy one used if it is the right type for me, but I no longer waste money on a bag that isn't right for me just because it's a good one and in the thrift shop, though I still find myself picking a bag up and walking around the store with it really having to talk myself out of it.
Impulsive Shawna: 'But self, this is leather and looks nice and is so well made.'
Sensible Shawna: 'My dear impulsive one, the style is weird and awkward.'
Impulsive Shawna: 'But it's only ten dollars and it's LEA-THER!'
Sensible Shawna: 'It's weird. Why do you think someone gave it up?'
Impulsive Shawna: 'Damn you for being right. Don't get used to it.'
I will be the first to admit that I have more bags than I need. I know many people who carry only one bag year round and have had that bag for years. While I don't quite go so far as to have bags matching a variety of outfits, I usually have black and brown just as I have both black and brown boots and shoes. I have a small yellow bag I sometimes use in summer and my beloved red satchel which definitely does not go with everything in my wardrobe. I have a couple of vintage clutches inherited from my great aunt but I never really go anywhere fancy enough to use them. And I have a much loved, colourful fabric bag which mostly get used in summer with more casual clothes. I can't claim a need for another bag using any stretch of the imagination, but I suspect if I fell in love with one I wouldn't rule it out.
These are my current bags in the photos below.
When shopping for bags I hold out for real leather. I have tried faux leather bags and always found, no matter the price I paid, that they didn't wear as well as leather or look as good as they aged. There is one bag left in my collection that is vinyl and it is actually holding up really well, though I constantly have to patch up the lining. I am on the lookout to replace it with a leather version but have yet to see the right thing and of course want it to be on sale.
Brown bag with braided strap, Roots Canada, Calamity Jane bag
Yellow bag, Fossil, purchased at Winners
Multi-coloured patch work cotton bag -source unknown to me
Black tote, Elana Solano, purchased at Winners
Red satchel, yo reinare, purchased in Victoria, BC website here
Brown cross body bag, Lucky Brand, purchased at Winners
Evening bags vintage and inherited, fabric bag made by ex-mother in law
Black vinyl cross body bag by Buffalo