I guess it’s no surprise how much women love handbags (or purses as our friends in the U.S. sometimes call them). We tend to carry one almost everywhere. And they often contain not only our daily essentials but our precious memories too.
It is not lost on me that France has produced some of the most iconic handbag names of all time. These include high end brands like Hermes, Goyard, Chanel, Dior and Celine. And of course I can’t omit the ever polarising Louis Vuitton. But you’ll also find a large number of French names producing good quality, relatively affordable handbags including Longchamp and (the new to me) Lancaster Paris.
Handbags have been the flavour of the month in my world recently. I’ve gifted them and I’ve gratefully received them. All this handbag to-ing and fro-ing has naturally led to stacks of discussion. How many bags do you have? How many handbags do you need? And, perhaps more interestingly, what makes a great handbag?
To my mind, there is no universal answer to that last question. It really comes down to what each individual woman is looking for. The perfect handbag for me might hold no appeal whatsoever for you – and vice versa.
However, there are some key elements that you might like to explore if you are looking to invest in a new handbag.
The Key Elements Of The Perfect Handbag
One thing is guaranteed when you start looking at handbags – there is a style and shape to suit every possible taste. While ‘It’ bags come and go, classic shapes include:
- The Pochette. A small bag that is often worn across the body. Holds the bare nessecities.
- The Tote. Totes come in a variety sizes and are made in just about every material under the sun. Some can be zipped up however many are open topped. All come with double handles. I like to ensure that mine come with handles long enough to sling over my shoulder.
- The Doctor or Bowling. Two different looks but a similar idea. These mid sized, structured bags have shorter handles that can be held in the hand or in the crook of the elbow. They make excellent handbags if you work in an office or corporate environment.
- The Bucket. An elegant looking bag that often sports a drawstring closure and a strap that can be worn across the body or from one shoulder. I love the look of these bags, but due to a lack of pockets in many, they can end up quite a mess inside – mainly because you throw everything in it, just like a bucket!
- The Messenger. Ideal for girls on the go. A cross body bag that allows the user to go hands-free. Large enough to carry the essentials, and then some.
It is kind of obvious, but you need to ensure that the bag you purchase is the right size for your needs. Here are some of my top tips.
- If you carry a laptop or other work gear, you are probably going to need a larger bag. If you do choose a larger bag think about how heavy it is before you start loading it up. Bags can get awfully heavy very quickly.
- But even if you prefer to travel light, don’t underestimate how much space you need to accommodate your every day belongings. A wallet, keys, glasses and personal items often take up more space than you might imagine.
- If your budget stretches to it, I recommend a wardrobe of at least 3 bags. A pochette or smaller bag, for occasions where you just need your phone and lippy, a mid sized structured bag which works well for every day and a larger tote bag with a zip closure for days when you are lugging lots.
- It is always worthwhile considering your body shape when you are selecting a bag of any size, as ideally the bag will suit your proportions.
Pockets – internal and external.
Consider carefully the internal mechanics of any bag you buy.
- Well placed pockets can make your life so much easier and save you a ton of time digging for your phone, keys, pen or lipstick.
- Equally though, too many pockets and dividers can make a bag impractical. It’s a tricky balance.
- If you are someone who swaps between bags regularly, you might like to invest in one of those ‘bag organisers’ that holds all your goodies and can be easily swapped between bags. Personally, I use a mid sized leather envelope to hold all of my small bits and pieces. It too can be switched between bags with no fuss.
You can opt for leather, coated canvas or perhaps fabric when investing in a bag. This is a personal choice that will depend on your budget, lifestyle and potentially your values.
- Leather is an evergreen favourite. But you do need to care for your leather goods by cleaning and polishing them regularly. Waterproofing is often a good idea too.
- Coated canvas is hard working material which is easy to keep clean. And don’t think your coated canvas isn’t office ready. There are some fabulous structured bags out there in coated canvas.
- Fabric bags and nylon bags are light and easy to carry, but are often more casual.
Yep another thing I keep banging on about. Today, I’ll just point out that, if you look after it, a good quality handbag will last you for years. Choose a timeless style, and you could be looking at a companion for a life time. And remember, price doesn’t always equal quality. Think about the hardware and the stitching, especially around the handles.
While I can’t say I’ve travelled anything close to the entire world, I have travelled extensively. And one French handbag seems to feature on the arms of women more than any other.
That bag is Le Pliage by Longchamp.
Its popularity is most likely due to sheer versatility, and a decent dose of practicality.
Available in multiple sizes and colours (it’s even able to be customised), this bag seems to meet a multitude of needs. The fact that the majority are made from easy care nylon (although there are leather versions of a similar bag), have zip closures and don’t cost the earth probably doesn’t hurt either!
I’ve seen Le Pliage doing duty as a shopping tote, as a traditional handbag and even as a doggie basket. Mine is large, black and I’ve used it extensively both in Australia and overseas.
I’d love to know – what is it you look for in a bag? Do you have a favourite companion? Or are you still on the hunt for the perfect handbag? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.
Please note – this is an unsolicited post and no compensation of any kind has been received from any of the brands named.