We all have watershed moments in which we realize long-held significant relationships serve us no longer.
I’m talking about purses, or, as they say now, bags. I’ve been carrying an aubergine patent-leather, luggage strap-handled number since 2010. As a usually monobagamous sort, i.e. one and only one at a time, I’ve been feeling relationship discord. In sum, totes work perfectly for an auto-dominated suburban life, less so for cities.
Particularly cities in which one walks to work.
I lug my laptop around in a backpack, and that’s not going to change. But I’d been arriving in the office, dumping the backpack, and going to lunch with wallet and cellphone in hand – in actual hand. It was inconvenient. I carried the tote on weekends and out at night, and it was painful. I found myself holding my shoulder up to my ear to keep the straps from falling off and that’s never good for a body.
Enter Christmas. And a set of Christmas presents that evolved in a rapid, logical, but completely frivolous manner. Let me ask you. Is there anyone who speaks English, knows small children, and hasn’t read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie?
It goes like this. If you give a woman a small crossbody bag, let’s say from Bottega Veneta,
she’s going to need a new little wallet.
And if you give her a new little wallet,
she’s going to need a place to store her credit and loyalty cards that no longer fit…
and daggum it if she won’t turn out to need a new small hairbrush too.
Of course, if the woman happens to write a style blog, you might then have to listen to her deconstruct the brand implications. Yes.
- Why Bottega Veneta? The apex of non-logoed luxury, they rely on a leather technique invented 50 years ago, and iconic not-quite-minimalist designs. Besides, somewhere in the early 80s my sister, mother and I all bought almost-matching bags at the Manhattan Bottega Veneta store. Never underestimate the value of nostalgia.
- Why Barney’s? Come on, for the audacity alone! Can you imagine Saks or Macy’s branding wallets? I thought not. Do you know what happened when Neiman Marcus tried a Target collaboration? Disaster. Barneys equals retail genius, despite their horror show of an online shopping user interface, and I grin every time I see their imprinted logo on my new blue money holder.
- Why Proenza Schouler? Because Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez are adorable? Because I thought I wanted a PS-1 but in real life it was too, um, squishy? Because nobody is going to see this logo but me? Because, in the end, it’s a brand that reflects designers, not a corporation. Although I have nothing against corporations per se, for fashion I prefer actual humans.
- Why Mason Pearson? Because they sell at Neiman Marcus and if you happen to be choosing a bag and realize you need a new brush you just might forget to ask how much said brush is going to cost you. Whoops. Because in the end, I care about the function but not the brand of my hair management tools. I owned Mason Pearson in the 80s but that was before everyone else figured out rubber cushion technology. Never overestimate the value of nostalgia either.
But in all seriousness, I can’t believe what a change this has made in my sheer day-to-day getting through life. No more using my neck to hold my bag, no more fumbling and digging through backpack zippers, no more juggling large wallet and phone. The tote will stay on as my suburb bag, but I’m crossbody in the city from now on.
It would be possible, of course, to replicate these logistics with other brands. Deja Pseu, for example, posted recently featuring her Chanel crossbody. I don’t know what she has inside it, but we’ll assume she’s figured out the intricacies.
Another price point strategy might involve this “Custard,” from Hester van Eeghen,
or this Hobo Alessa at Zappos.
or even this Peace Bag, if you’re feeling retro and a tad ornery.
In those cases, you’re going to want a wallet like this, perhaps. How did I not know about Orla Kiely, when I’ve seen her totes everywhere? Mysteries of the universe.
I recommend, however, that you keep your wits about you and go to the drugstore for a brush. I may start carrying If You Give A Moose A Muffin on future shopping excursions.