I always, always try to keep things as simple as possible, however, the process of choosing the right bags was anything but. Over the years, I made all the classic mistakes and it’s taken me this long, in my 5th decade to finally understand the factors that make a bag work for me and my life. The factors are Function, Size, Leather, Weight, Maintenance and Colour.
Function – and frequency of use are the guides for style and form of the bag. My needs have changed over the years and stabilised to 3 categories: smart (mostly day and much less evening), everyday casual and travel (infrequently). I still have lots of small mainly vintage bags left over from the days when I had more evening outings but I still treasure them.
Size – does matter but not in the obvious way – it’s the depth that counts! Some people simply don’t worry about the size of a bag in proportion to their height and size and I would love to be one of them but the fact is I feel uncomfortable carrying a bag that looks big enough for me to fit inside. Even though I’m petite, unfortunately I can’t shrink my bag essentials to match 🙂 The solution is making sure my bags have enough depth. I suppose this may be why flat hobo type bags and envelope clutches don’t look so good on me – they’re too flat and wide.
I have small, medium and large sizes. Above is an example of a small shoulder bag (about 10″ width) and contents. The standard depth is about 3″ wide and fits the above easily. I don’t carry much.
Medium size such as my Kelly 32cm (just over 12″ width). I can fit my 80’s filofax as well like in the Chanel Jumbo (12″ width) below.Although the Chanel Jumbo is not as tall as the Kelly 32, it has a little more give because of the softer leather (washed caviar).The Dalvy appears to be larger on the outside (same width and even taller than the Chanel Jumbo), but inside capacity is less, about the same as my small bags. This is due to the rigid construction and firm leather (Vache Naturel).My Plume 32cm is the same width as the Kelly 32 but is deeper and the ‘suitcase’ shape gives it a lot more capacity. I use it for travel and as a tote at home.The Rugby bag is small, however, due to its slightly wider depth, can fit in more. I use this mainly on holiday or at home whenever I can get away with carrying the minimum.
For the first time this year I tried the bag within a bag using my leather Longchamp tote and Kelly 28cm size bag (inside which I keep my bag of jewels so they are not checked in). The tote is about 14″ width and about 5″ deep so there’s ample space plus a little left for small souvenirs, notebook and snacks. The Longchamp tote is a great style to have. It has an inner pocket on the wall which means you can keep your wallet securely and the leather is light and durable – can’t ask for more!
Leather – I have a preference for smooth leathers, I only realised this recently having assumed and taken for granted that all leathers had an obvious grain – they don’t. I only have 3 bags that are grained leather: the Chanel washed caviar, Plume 32 in chêvre (goat) and the Lindy in clemence. The rest are smooth, smooth, smooth! The Hermès Lindy is a deceptively roomy style: 12″ across and depth is about 6″ which means I can fit a lot in there. Hardware is minimal and though the leather is grained and thicker than my beloved box, it’s very easy to use and has great versatility. I use it for travel as well and dream of the size down (26cm) in a yummy colour….Weight – I suppose I’m a little obssessed with this because I will not consider a bag if it’s too heavy whether due to the size, leather type or hardware or a combination of all these. Also I’ve learnt to split the load in that if I have anything heavy to carry such as files, I will put these in my tote and use a small or medium shoulder or cross body bag as normal.
Maintenance – it’s important to consider if you wish to take care of your bags or replace them.I learnt the method to maintain a few different leathers once I had a couple of H bags here and applied the same treatment to other similar leathers with success here. The bonus is that living in UK where the climate is often wet, the treatment can also make the leather – mostly smooth box that I favour – weather proof. Grained leathers tend to be naturally weather proof. I will take reasonable precaution to avoid excessive wear and tear but not using certain bags because it’s raining seems to defeat the object to me.
Colour – in much the same that I avoid wearing black, I also avoid black bags mainly because of all the neutral colours I wear and accessories is the one way I can add some much needed colour. My only regret is not following my love of colour much earlier.And a sneak peak at my Hermès Bolide bag in Rouge Garance (I think!). When I have stuck to these points, I’ve ended up with a successful purchase!
Thanks for reading!