In the Bag

Bags never used to excite me.  They were simply a receptacle for carrying my stuff.  I was bewildered at the idea of paying squillions for a designer bag or people joining queues for the latest must-have arm-candy.  Let me tell you, dear Reader, I have changed my mind.  Personally, I would not pay thousands but I have slowly come to appreciate the look of e.g. a classic Chanel bag with its quilting and chain strap almost as an objet d’art


 This image came from the exhibition “Bags: Inside Out” at the V & A which continues until next January and includes many iconic bags both classy and outrageous.  Being the V & A there were historical examples showing the way bag styles adapted to practical requirements, e.g. money purses beginning as drawstring pouches to accommodate coins and then, as paper money came in, becoming flat. It is remarkable how small were early ladies’ bags; how little they carried around with them.  Was that because they didn’t go out?  Or had servants to carry what they needed?  Or simply didn’t have the “stuff” we all consider essential?  I think we’d all put the practicality of carrying our necessary “stuff” fairly near the top of the list of requirements for our bags.  And “stuff”, I have noticed has expanded now to include a mask, sanitiser, a re-usable carrier, a bottle of water and a mirror to make sure I haven’t smudged my lipstick.  I definitely need servants!!

Once past the historical section of the exhibition, bags were more thematically arranged – travel, evening, status, “It” bags; bags as adornment; bags to show power.   I particularly loved the quirky bags like the safety pin one: in the centre here.


And this from Stella McCartney made from Ocean Plastic - a fabric made from marine waste..


So, back to earth: do you change your bag with each outfit  (some ladies transfer an "inner bag organiser" from bag to bag) or do you have one bag which you use until it wears out?   What does your hand- or shoulder bag say about you? Even more important than size and shape, what you carry on your arm or sling across your body can be an expression of your Style Personality.  Which of these do you think you are?

If you tend towards wanting to dress smartly and appropriately for every occasion your quality leather handbag will probably match your shoes and outfit You are a “Classic” (Anne Robinson).  If you are similarly smart but like to show a little flair, your bag might also be practical and high quality but in a bright colour. You are a “European” or "City Chic".(Carla Bruni)  Perhaps you go for tiny, pretty handbags which aren’t terribly practical but you don’t worry about that because someone else will take care of practicalities?  You are a “Romantic” (Elizabeth Hurley) Or do you not see the point of handbags when you have got perfectly good pockets?  If you must, you will choose a backpack. You are a “Natural” (Ellen McArthur). Maybe you like to make a dramatic entrance?  In which case you will go for a bag which makes your outfit look fab and you won’t care what it is made of. You are a “Dramatic” (Joan Collins) Or, lastly, maybe you fall in love with a bag and build an entire outfit to go around it? You are a “Creative” (Think Iris Apfel)

If you know and are at ease in your Style Personality this will lead you to all your decisions about not only what bag to carry but what to wear in general.  If you are not sure of yours, contact me for a chat about it at


What I have come to realize in my conversion to valuing bags is that treasuring my bag is yet another celebration of life.  I love the feel of beautiful leather and admire good workmanship so last year, for my 70th I asked for a Demellier bag (see main photo).

Upstairs at the exhibition were video demonstrations of the craft of making a quality bag.  The Somerset-based company, Mulberry sponsor the exhibition and I began to understand why a good bag costs what it does when you see the materials and workmanship involved. Recently, by chance, I picked up my very own Mulberry bag at our local Cancer Research shop for £35 and then spent £20 at the wonderful “Leatherworks” in Richmond having the front buckle mended




It is still a snip according to ebay and the Mulberry website. Even “pre-loved” bags are going for £££!  It is heartening, though, to see quality bags being restored and given new life.  

If you are considering buying a new bag, how about “buying British”?  Here are some “home-grown” bag makers you might like to look at: 

  1. Owen Barry – another Somerset brand.  I haven’t bought myself but have seen a couple of bags owned by a friend.  Beautiful!


  1. Zohara – from Northern Ireland

3.   Or, if you want to go for recycled plastic try Roka London 


  4.  or finally, Elvis and Kresse who recycle fire hoses!




If you are interested in discovering more about your Style Personality click here