Sunday, 20 April 2014

Purses and Handbags and Totes, OH MY!

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.

                              Source

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.
                                Source
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.

                            This bag is a similar idea.  Source

                             As is this one.  Source

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.


Sources/Makes:

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


36 comments:

  1. Hi Shawna, I've always had a love/hate relationship with purses. Typically I like to travel light. Therefore, I normally carry and small cross-body or a clutch. I know clutches can be cumbersome, but I love them. I always feel so chic when I'm carrying them. One day I made the mistake of trying to grocery shop with one and I vowed never to do that again. Do you know Elle from My Daily Costume. She has a fabulous collection of vintage bags. They all small and oh so chic. I notice that many of the younger bloggers carry the huge bags. I tried to go that route but found that they overwhelm me in size.

    Great post! Have a wonderful week :)

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  2. Hi Glenda, thanks for stopping by. Does it make me a "younger blogger" then if I like big bags? LOL I like a medium sized cross body best, but I do like being able to cart around a book and a notebook/journal or sketch book. I can imagine a clutch would be quite a nuisance grocery shopping! They are very elegant looking though. I have been known to carry knitting in my handbag too. I don't travel light.
    Enjoy your week!

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  3. love the inner dialog :-)
    a very elegant leather bag would be nice to have - but then - i change my bags with the mood and the cost of such bag would´t pay out. so i go on with cheap or second hand ones. but they have to be really fancy and special. and never fit my shoes :-p
    this weekend i opened the straw bag/basket season. this sunny weather bags are a sure sign of summer for me!
    xxxx

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    1. I have a lot of inner dialogue. I chat with myself often and Impulsive Shawna usually wins but Sensible Shawna is getting quite stern with her lately.
      I The function of the bag does take precedence over it's looks, which is why I have some basic bags in boring old black and brown. If i had straw bags I would have to be careful where I left them as my cat would eat them!
      I love those little signs of summer like a change of handbag.
      xo

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  4. Wonderful collection Shawna, ahhhhhh
    Thank you so much for your kind comment. it means a lot to me.
    Love and sunshine
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

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    1. Thanks for visiting! You brought the sunshine for which I am most grateful and I have all my windows open today!
      xo

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  5. Hahhaha, poor Impulsive Shawna, I felt bad for her :D I'm like you, those clutches are fancy and all, but they can never beat the sturdy ol cross body bag!
    I own tons of bags, but I only wear my red one. She's HUGE and most importantly- sturdy enough to put my textbooks in, so much win!
    Oh, I love that little floral clutch, so vintage! :D

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    1. Yes, poor Impulsive Shawna, she really does want to run wild and buy some red shoes. I wonder if Sensible Shawna will let her. I suspect she will.
      My mum has a red bag, a sort of oxblood dark red and it's the only one she uses year round. I like the idea of that but I know I would fall for other bags
      I love that floral clutch too. I just like leaving it out and looking at it! It's just big enough to hold a phone, keys, a couple of id cards and maybe a lipstick.
      xo

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  6. That patchwork slouchy bag in the top photos taking my eye. You've an excellent collection.
    I do like bags but I've never bought one new from a shop. Every bag in my collection was spotted second-hand just took my fancy - hence I own nothing plain.
    I inherited a few 1930s clutches but they sit in a cabinet as, like you, I find them a bit pointless - I like a big bag I can cart my shopping, sunglasses and umbrella in.xxx

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    1. I love the patchwork slouchy bag. I have another one that is in a bit of a state of disrepair but I still love it. The strap is a bit long though and even when worn as a cross body it bumps against my leg quite persistently.

      I like to cart around a lot of stuff too. Most of the bags here that are available second hand are not fancy or particularly good quality, all tend to be black, brown or red vinyl. I am always on the lookout for something special but have learned which types will not get any use and are thus best left in the store. I really dislike a hand held bag. I want my hands free for shopping!
      xo

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  7. Beautiful collection you've got there Shawna. I love clutches and medium sized bags and only use large bags for work.

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    1. Hi Elsie, thanks for visiting! I love the look of clutches and the way they look when other people carry them. I will just have to keep on admiring that as they don't work for me personally. :D

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  8. I love your red satchel! I used to make evening bags to sell, and have quite a few I have collected from here and there, including some bilums from PNG. I love medium sized cross body bags best too. Currently I am enjoying a black vinyl one which goes against my colourful leather loving soul but is being surprisingly strong and useful. I laughed when you said you carry knitting ... you are not alone ;-) thanks for your lovely comments about my last post. We had a lovely break.

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    1. I think that every once in awhile a well made vinyl bag comes a long and we should embrace that! I used to be vegan and so I have experimented with a great deal of non-leather bags and shoes and found it a bit hit and miss as to whether or not they held up well.
      I apparently have the idea that if my car breaks down somewhere and I must sit and wait for the tow truck, I could knit while I wait.
      :D

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  9. You've got yourself a nice collection!! I am the same way at thrift stores, and really end up only using one bag! I also love the memories you have of all your old bags!

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    1. It's a bit of a challenge not to bring home things that are not quite right, when it's from a thrift shop and is only going to cost about $10 but over time that can add up. ON the other hand it's a less expensive way to experiment,

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  10. Change a few details and this is a post I've been meaning to write! I remember clearly the day my mom bought me a black wicker (faux) purse when I was about nine. I've been hooked on purses ever since! I tend to be a serial monogamist with purses, and I still love my old ones, but I just get bored. I actually really love my current one - it's faux leather, but looks pretty good - but I'm feeling the need to get a new one. I've always had good luck with cheap ones, so I can justify buying a new one every couple of years.

    Go with your impulse! Purses are like a portable home, they're with you every day, so it's important to feel happy with them.

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    1. Well, of course it is. We are nearly twins, remember? My mum carries the same oxblood red purse year round. She had it for about seven years and when it finally wore out she replaced it with the identical model. I admire the simplicity of that but I would get bored like you do.
      I laughed when you said purses are a portable home. I definitely treat mine that way and I love home so I try to take it with me when I go out.
      xo

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  11. What a fun collection! And I too have similar inner dialogues. Don't we all? :))

    Purses are individual like anything else. I am spontaneous. I buy what I for some reason really really LOVE. It can be color, shape, feel of it... and better yet, all of the above. :) Therefore I have probably 5 or 6 green bags. :) One can call it "more than I need". But I look at it slightly differently. What I need is to surround myself with things which bring me joy. I am not especially practical person. :)

    I found myself drawn to B Makowsky purses a lot (I only get them discounted at TJ MAXX) and have probably 4 or 5 of them. They are very soft leather, don't cost as much as some fashionable brands, top quality and have wonderful metal hardware which I adore, and it's one of things I always pay attention to in bags. I find that some bags pair very easily with many of my outfits, even if they are not a neutral color. In other words, I don't care so much for matching, it just has to feel right... like in art, you know. :) Like my reddish bag I was using all winter long...

    And I agree with Glenda - Elle has just an amazing collection of bags, she has such an artistic eye. It's worth finding her post about her purse collection.

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    1. I keep hearing about this TJ Maxx place and I'm not sure what it is but I think it might be similar to the store we have here called Winners. I will go and have a peek at Elle's blog. Thanks for the tip.
      I would love to have a green bag or a blue one. I am always on the look out for the right one. I am like you and I need to surround myself with things that bring me joy, and with things that appeal to my senses, however I do feel some guilt at the luxury of that lifestyle and I do need to save money for some household repairs and improvements which will of course make me quite happy when done but isn't quite the same instant gratification that the purchase of new shoes or a purse can bring. It's all about constantly finding the right balance for ourselves, isn't it!
      xo

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  12. OMG I had that very same little white wicker bag when I was a kid! I used it until it fell apart.
    I have about six bags, three day and three evening, that I use. wheelchairs can be rough on purses so I buy a new one every now and then.

    Alicia
    spashionista.com

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    1. There must be certain styles of bag which function better for you with a wheel chair. As much as I fall for the look and visual appeal of a bag, I value function highly too.
      xo

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  13. I do like big, colourful bags - they have to be practical, and I usually tote around all sorts of crap! I never worrry too much is a bag "goes" with what I'm wearing, hence I don't have too many black or plain bags. I buy all mine secondhand.
    I am eying up that yellow bag of yours, the patchwork and red coloured ones, and the sweet little tapestry clutch (though obviously you couldn't fit anything much in it!) xxx

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    1. When I think about it, I don't have much access to bags that are not brown or black, even in the second hand shops. Many of the colourful bags in the one store that carries them are made of PVC which I generally reject but the right bag in blue or green leather would definitely be calling my name.
      xo

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  14. I think bags are second only to shoes in my struggle to make an outfit work. My bags have to be practical first and foremost - I am coveting that red satchel of yours

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    1. I'm like you and practically and function of the bag comes first for me too. The majority of the time I go out it's to shop or meet a friend for coffee so I don't really have a need for a huge wardrobe of bags, I really only need function. For me it's a luxury just to be switching from a black winter bag to brown in spring or autumn and then my colourful fabric ones in summer. Most of the bags that I can find to buy here are black or brown. I'm hoping to find a green or blue one some day. I love my red satchel so much I think I should go back to school just so I can use a satchel daily.
      xo

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  15. I always loved bags too ... that and pencil cases for some reason ... and leather is always my preference.
    xx

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    1. LOL-I love pencil cases too! They are a mini bag after all. I feel sorry for the kids nowadays who have to make do with those plastic pencil boxes that are the thing now.
      xo

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  16. You have a great collection of bags! I have bags I have destroyed still upstairs, waiting to be mended! and I use 2, a wicker one and a Minnie Mouse one, if I see a bag, my internal dialogue is 'no, you have a bag' my inner voice is mean! x x x

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    1. Let's send your mean inner voice and my mean inner voice on a one way trip to the Antarctic.
      xo

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  17. You've got a great collection. I like your choices. I would happily take all of them off your hands!

    I'm lame when it comes to bags. I like the "idea" of them, but my fibromyalgia hates them. Anything on my neck or shoulders is a big problem. Cross body bags are what I can wear for more than an hour. Two hours though and I'll start to feel it.

    Clutches are fine for when I'm going to a party or out for drinks. In real life though I need to be able to use both hands.

    That doesn't stop me from collecting bags though.

    Sensible Suzanne would say, "Stop buying those you don't need them!"

    But Impulsive Suzanne (whom I prefer BTW) just says, "Shut up! Who asked you anyhow?"

    I think our Impulsives should get together and go on a shopping binge. LOL

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Oh yes, a shopping binge and lunch! Preferably in Montreal.
      xo

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  18. Great bag collection with so many colours to choose from. My dad used to take photos of The Family every Sunday, and every month or so, as quickly as I could save up my allowance, I had a new little wee bag I'd be holding up next to my grin. I winnowed out my collection to a few now, but I prefer tool boxes from my husband. I like clutching them in my fist and swinging them wildly about - makes me feel strong. If I need to carry more things than will fit, I'll bring a second cross-body bag. I cherish my impulsive self until it's time to pull out the moolah.

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    1. I suspect I love bags and shoes more than clothes. I love your tool box bag but I'd need the cross body tool box version. Perhaps a carpenter's belt. I get absolutely crazy carrying a bag in my hands. However I have visions of you flitting around Vancouver looking amazing and not actually doing any grocery shopping. ;-)

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  19. What a lovely collection of handbags! I adore collecting them, too. :) The one your grandmother gifted you is my fave--it's priceless! T. http://tickledpinkwoman.blogspot.com

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  20. Well, I will probably shock you by saying my grandmother was a total bitch, but she did have good taste. Seriously, I am pretty sure she was a sociopath but she always looked great.

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