A while back Maja wrote a blog post called “how I shop for clothes“, and ever since I’ve wanted to share my own take on the subject. The word shopping itself often brings to mind someone laden down with bags, racing from one shop to the other with a whiteglowing credit card, which isn’t really my way of doing things – but still, most of us have to visit the shops from time to time, and it can be very helpful to have some sort of strategy in mind. I decided to start with bags, as, strangely enough, they’re one of those things I rarely get. Although I can appreciate the craftsmanship behind, say, a beautiful, classic Chanel bag, I don’t have such a thing for them as women are “supposed” to have nowadays. Still, I do carry a fair amount of stuff with me on an everyday basis, and it can’t all fit in my pockets, so I’m definitely not questioning the need for bags!
For a while now I’ve been keeping my eyes open for the perfect everyday bag, or bags. I’ve made do fairly well with my lovely little quilted one and a larger vintage one, plus a grey backpack from Bianco for heavier things (it’s impossible to find a picture of it online, but the shape is similar to this, just in very simple, medium grey faux-leather). None of them are 100% ideal, though. The quilted one is too small for anything but the absolute essentials, and the leather one is very wide in profile, so it sticks pretty far out from my body, which I don’t like. Both of these also have straps that can create marks on light clothing. The backpack was almost right, but it was too large, and hung too low on my body, hiding the curve of my back. After years of looking at bag after bag, feeling almost none of them were right enough to even be considered, I realized I have a pretty heavy list of criteria in my head.
My criteria for bags
– simple in shape and decoration, preferably with straight lines instead of soft curves. A square/rectangular shape is best. No heavy logos, fringes, bows, masses of charms/bling.
– structured, so it can stand on its own when I put it down.
– not too wide in profile. I don’t like it when bags stick out too far from my body, as it feels awkward and can be annoying when surrounded by many people.
– must have an across-the-body strap, or be a backpack. Nothing I have to carry with my hands/elbows, or that will be uncomfortable to carry over the shoulder.
– smooth leather/faux leather is best, no canvas/suede/other fabric. This is both for how it looks and feels, but also so it can withstand heavy rain/snow.
– in a single colour (no patterns, though an interesting texture is nice), black and navy are best. No browns or greys, as they don’t work with my shoes or outerwear. Nothing that can stain light clothing.
– a sturdy closure, to make it hard for pickpockets; at least a zipper, but preferably some other kind of closure as well. This should also make sure no rain or snow can get inside the bag.
– metal can be silver or gold, no copper, and if gold it has to be a pale, cool gold, not a rosy or very yellow one.
– fit my basic items: a water bottle, my Kindle, lipstick case, credit card holder, iPhone, tissues and earplugs. Bonus points for inner pockets that make organization easier.
– work with my budget, which is limited. Would ideally be made of real leather (I’ll treat it well), but faux leather is fine as long as it feels soft and not too much like plastic.
– handle being used for several years, both with quality and style in mind.
I made these two Polyvore collages to illustrate my points. There’s nothing wrong with the “no-bags”, of course, they’re just not right for me.
When actually shopping for bags, whether it’s online or in physical shops, I usually don’t spend much time in the most affordable stores like H&M, Lindex and such ones, as their bags mostly just feel like plastic to me, no matter how pretty they look. Zara is often right aesthetically, but too costly for what you get, I think. My favourite place to search is (big surprise) vintage and second hand shops. If a bag has survived the use of one person already, chances are it’ll survive quite a long time with me as well. Many vintage leather bags look sad in the shops, all wrinkly and dull, but I know they only need some loving treatment to look better than new.
I’ll always consider the shape, colour and general look first, which eliminates a larger part of the selection in any store. I’ll then look at how I’m meant to carry it, because it’s no good if I can’t carry it across my body or like a backpack. Materials, closures and price are last. I know, I know, it’s a pretty heavy list, but it works out in the end. I just don’t need to own fifteen bags. I have no room for that, and I know I’d end up wearing two of them most of the time anyway. Right now, my bags are:
– the quilted navy one with chain strap, which works both as a small everyday bag, and for more dressed-up things.
– the leather bag I linked to earlier (which I suspect I won’t wear very often anymore, but I like it so much I’m going to keep it).
– a white silk bag decorated with tiny white beads, if I ever need something very fancy.
– a larger, soft leather bag, perfect for overnight stays and travel.
– a red leather backpack I had when I was a child. Good for travel and grocery shopping.
– the bright blue one at the top of this post. I bought it at ALDO this Friday, and I’m so happy with it! It fits all my critera, and though the colour is a bold choice for me, I know it’ll “lift” pretty much anything I choose to wear. This will be Everyday bag 1.
– the black backpack in this post. This is also from ALDO, bought this Friday. What can I say, when I find something that works for me, I have to go for it. This completes my search for everyday bags (making this Everyday bag 2), and I intend to wear it to pieces.