I bought myself an expensive handbag for my birthday. (And Christmas. Much as I chastise others for giving me a ‘joint’ present, I don’t give myself that kind of grief.) I had been thinking about it for a while. Regular readers can probably guess what it is – more on that coming up. I used to treat myself to a nice bag with my work Christmas bonus. I had been known to go out pre-Christmas, get really rather drunk and stumble into Selfridges with money to spend and bravado with which to do it. Now that I work for myself, I don’t get a bonus anymore, plus Covid put paid to the boozy December lunch for the past two years, so instead I had to save up over time to get the one I wanted.
I don’t think I’ve done a specific handbag post before. This is very remiss of me as we all need a good bag. I have to admit that I do spend a decent amount of money on my bags. I’m more than happy to buy high street when it comes to clothes, but for bags I tend to go a bit higher end. Mainly because a bag can literally last you a lifetime if you look after it and, with price increases, they can end up being a really good investment. Chanel have upped their prices SO MUCH over the past few years. The tiny little entry-level ‘Wallet on Chain’ bag I bought in 2018 is now retailing for over £2K! So I will have made money on that. Not that I will sell anytime soon as I love her.
So, my advice for bags would be that quality doesn’t come cheap. Save up, sell some of your old things, get the one you REALLY want as it will last you a very long time. That said, there are places that do very well with bags that aren’t so expensive. Whistles, & Other Stories, Cos and John Lewis are my go-to places for great handbags on the high street. Here are some of my top picks and what you might wear with them…
MY NEW MULBERRY BAG
I always wanted an Alexa bag when they were first launched but could never afford one. I put it to the back of my mind for years until I spied the relaunch in this apricot/orange colour at a John Lewis event back in September. Since then, I’ve featured it on this blog many times. I had to wait for Christmas/birthday to justify getting it for myself. It’s just the perfect size for all-day use. Big enough for umbrella, keys, tissues and LOTS of emergency snacks. I also love the colour because it goes so well with navy and khaki-green, which is the majority of my wardrobe!
CROSS BODY BAGS
The perennial favourite. What did we do before we wore our bags ‘cross body’? Well, we wore them off our shoulders, I suppose. That just feels so 80s now, doesn’t it? Maybe we needed the shoulder pads to keep our bags from slipping off our shoulders. The trick to carrying a small bag is to downsize your contents. I have a very small wallet from Comme Des Garcons, although with the advent of Apple Pay I barely even need a wallet anymore. Just a phone. The wonders of modern technology. For me, a cross-body bag needs to be just big enough for sunglasses in the summer, a beanie in the winter and a very small brolly on inclement days.
1. ME + EM Colour block cashmere merino cardigan
2. John Lewis tan leather soft cross body bag
3. & Other Stories leather cross body bag
4. YMC black cotton trousers
5. Whistles Bibi leather cross body bag
6. New Balance 237 trainers
7. Jaeger racing green leather cross body bag
This is the ultimate in ‘hands-free’ bags. No, you don’t wear on your bum anymore, or your ‘fanny’ as our American friends would say; these days, you wear across your boobs so the bag sits over your bosoms. Perhaps they should be renamed ‘boob bags’. I have a black one from M.Hulot (they do it in many colours now too) and it’s my go-to bag for the football and casual days out as, unlike your regular cross-body bag, you never have to take it off and put it on your lap, not even when you sit down. Easy access to all your essentials, and there’s a slim chance you might be looked upon favourably by ‘the youth’ as they all wear these bags.
1. M&S Per Una belted quilted jacket
2. M Hulot red leather Loe bum bag
3. Forever Melo personalised leather bum bag
4. Cos tapered high rise jeans
5. Anine Bing Ramona sweatshirt (on sale)
6. Veja Roraima nubuck hiking style trainers (on sale)
I do find tote bags a bit annoying as they are big, heavy and hard to carry, but if you’ve got to take a laptop around, then you do need a bigger bag. You could go for a backpack, and I should do another post about them as you need one if you’re a cyclist. Not that I’m a real cyclist by any stretch. More of a fair-weather-only-if-it’s-not-cold-and-raining rider, but this week we’re on nicer handbags so totes it is. This one from Kin at John Lewis is my top pick because it’s lightweight, has a handle long enough to go over your shoulder and an internal zip for your valuables.
DESIGNER BAGS UNDER £500
If you’re looking to splash some cash on a bag but not go overboard, then I’ve got a few favourites that could fit the bill. I’m a big fan of the A.P.C. Demi-Lune bag. It’s smart, classic and well made. Won’t go out of fashion, ever. I’ve had the chestnut brown one for four years and even though it’s got a little bit scratched over time, it still looks good. On the quirkier end of the scale, I really like Hill & Friends. I have this Creature bag in red and it always makes me smile. Just promise me you won’t go down the Michael Kors or Radley route. We can do better than that, ladies.
1. ME+EM navy corduroy maxi shirt dress
2. Hill & Friends leather creature bag (on sale)
3. APC black leather Demi Lune bag
4. Tusting Cardington burgundy leather bag
5. Zadig & Voltaire Initial City bag (on sale)
BLOW THE BUDGET BAGS
Chanel is the ultimate but, as mentioned, the prices are insane now. Maybe look at resale sites for a pre-loved one. There’s often a good selection on FARFETCH and Vestiaire. I do still love my Guccis and am much enamoured by anything Loewe. These should all be ‘bags for life’. I know that when my Gucci Disco bag broke after about 18 months, they happily took it and sent it to Italy to be mended. Didn’t charge me either. Not sure if this is standard practice anymore, but it should be if you’re shelling out that much.
1. & Other Stories half zip sweater
2. Gucci horsebit 1955 logo bag
3. FarFetch Pre-loved Chanel flap bag
4. Loewe leather Puzzle bag
5. Hush Frieda Mom jeans
6. Isabel Marant Darizo leather heeled boots (on sale)
I hope you have a good week. I think this coming Monday is officially the ‘most depressing day of the year’, so that’s something to look forward to! Next week I’ll do the stripes post I promised this week.