Friday, December 28, 2012

5 Bags - Your Ideal Handbag Wardrobe

Every girl needs a "wardrobe of bags" in her life. You cant do simply with one bag, no matter what your other half says.

But how to you build a functional bag wardrobe?

First, you need to identify the main occasions or functions in your life - eg: school, work, outdoorsy stuff, dining out, relaxing with friends, city jaunts etc

Second, you need to have at least one bag for each main function or occasion in your life. 

Third, the more time you spend on a particular function or occasion, the more likely that you will need more than one bag WITHIN that category. 

So for example, if work occupies say 60% of your life, then you probably need three work bags & only one in each of the other categories.

Or if you are a stay at home mum, you probably need at least a few totes in your life rather than structured smart bags. Dont get me wrong - those totes will be smart (not sloppy), but if you read on, you'll see how the difference b/w smart & tote is important to you.

Get it? I hope so, but if you dont - read on....

Since I dont know you, I can only guess at what you do in your life coupled with the fact that I need to make this post general as it will be read by many & varied people. 

As a result, at a minimum, I have identified five bags/ categories which I think are necessary for your
"bag wardrobe".

1. A tote bag;
2. A smart day bag;
3. A trendy bag;
4. An outdoor bag; and
5. A clutch or small bag

Lets look at each one individually...


Think: large & roomy

Large, roomy, most have a shoulder strap.

If you have a baby in tow, this will be your diaper bag.
The tip off that a bag is tote material is that it doesnt have compartments (other than phone/key pockets) and it's internal look is large undivided space. 

Jamin Puech Honu tote

Celine's Luggage tote is a huge hit

Stella McCartney's Falabella tote is another classic tote. 

Prada's Saffiano

The Celine Cabas is a classic tote. Buy it in plain for more longevity or the colour blocked version for a more current look.

Longchamp's nylon bags are classic totes - just make sure you get the version with shoulder straps

The logo print on this Longchamp makes it less longlife than the plain one.

If you have ever gone for a huge slouchy minimal hardware bag, you have also fallen into this tote category. 

The most high end tote is probably the Hermes Birkin. Interestingly the style you see being carried by Ashley Tisdale doesnt come with a shoulder strap and the straps you see are too small to fit over the shoulder. But Jean Paul Gaultier created a wider shorter version a few years ago which  had a shoulder strap. All of them are TDF.


Think: Structured to impress

This will be your work bag.

It's level of smartness will obviously depend on your line of work, but it will generally be somewhat structured.

Warning: It will not fit the kitchen sink, no matter how much you want it to. Dont over stuff it as you run the risk of looking like your life & bits & pieces are out of control and that is the complete opposite of what this bag should say about you.

Classic colours in leather add longevity, too much bling & hardware takes away from the smartness. But its up to you.

If you are a career girl and you can afford one uber luxe bag, buy it in this category.

In a compact shape, this can double as an evening bag.

Celine does understated smart luxe very well. 

Doesnt get more classic than a dark Chanel 2.55, released in Feb 1955.

A classic shape in a pop colour can still work as a smart day bag - however it wont give you as many options as the classic colour version.
Oroton bags - re-done for 2012 & a classic smart bag in a doctor's bag shape

The Louis Vuitton Alma is a smart classic

The Louis Vuitton Speedy is another smart classic.

Prada's Pyramide fits in the smart category. Bet Miranda has one in every colour!

The Hermes Kelly is probably the most high end smart bag on the planet. This bag has attained so much prestige that someone who carries it, can do so in any skin or colour combo yet still retain the "smart bag" tag, no matter how trendy the look.


Think: Current or cool.

This is where you get to show your wild side.
This is where the "must have" "IT" bags live.
The down side is that it is very noticeable and may have a short life - once you see everyone wearing one (or a copy), you tend to get sick of it.

Tip: If you invest in this category, buy it as early as possible in the season, so you wear it ahead of every woman & her dog.

Since this bag may have shortest life than the other categories, if grow sick of it you can re-sell it or you can stash it at the end of the season & pull it out a few seasons later (if you're game). 

Alexander Wang's Rocco bag is a trendy bag that has almost made it to a more classic category. 

The camera bag has become a big hit the last few seasons. 

This Fendi is interesting. Technically it is a tote, but it is so up to the moment in its styling (perspex, fur, cube) that it makes it into the trendy category.

Dolce & Gabbana's Miss Sicily bags technically have a classic style, but their use of print & texture  takes them into the trendy category.

Phillip Lim's Pashli bags

These Prada bags are technically smart bags in shape, but their prints put them right into trendy territory. 

Prada in plastic with leather  trim...say bye bye to a messy bag if you covet this one....


If you dont read any of this post, I hope you read this next paragraph. Sometimes the 2nd tier and lesser known brands release a bag which is so unusual that it defies the trends.
But because they are second tier brands, they dont have the marketing budgets to move the item into the IT brand stratosphere - so the bag remains very interesting but not obviously tied to a particular season/ridiculously recognisable. And, it remains at a good price - woo hoo.

THIS is the kind of bag I look for. The best place to find these is on-line or at warehouse sales. But they take hunting down.

Spain's Lupo brand does these accordion styles in many shapes and colours - trendy but not  in the IT bag way. They can be brought out & worn again & again.

The great thing about these 2nd tier brands (apart from price), is that often they know they have produced a cult bag & they re-do it season after season in different shapes, leathers & prints. In the photo, the variations include zipper inserts into the pleats and curliness of the pleats. 


Think: Large, unstructured, light (or bright) colours & often in fabric or straw.

This category is specifically for Australia with its outdoor lifestyle. It may not be as applicable to the colder northern hemisphere climates.

Ahhh, Chanel straw bag. Love this more than life itself.

Easy to wear, looks nice & affordable. Made season after season, you can often get this at the outlet stores too.

Coach - the appliquay and the various textures give this an upmarket look.

A duffel style fits easily in the outdoor category.

Gorgeous Kate Spade bag

Outdoor category Gucci

Outdoor Gucci in fabric & mint leather trim

Tory Birch bag


Think: Literally any pattern or colour, soft or structured, as long as it is small.

This may also double as your evening bag.

But if evening events take up a large part of your life, then you may need more than one in this category.

Even if it's highly trendy it will fit into this category by virtue of its size.

Cross body bags typically fall into this category too.

Work it in a bright satin with metallic trim like Olivia.

Lego style at Chanel

So hot Serena sizzles. Can anyone tell me the brand here?

My eternal style crush, Dr Lisa Airan, the upper east side dermatologist to the stars who has all of Madison & Fifth on speed dial. Here, the clutch is Hermes & she is at a Hermes do. Love the way she respects the brand by wearing it at their function.

Gucci at left & Burberry at right. 

The ruched Prada bags come in all shapes & sizes. 

Gorgeous "look at me" style & colour.

Small bag with evening styling by Valentino on the right. Unlike our mother's days, this little beauty can be worn during the day too. On the left, the size of that bag probably takes it to the "smart day" category.

Phillip Lim pop art story

Fendi perspex clutch

Jamin Puech fur ball & perspex small bag

Ugg Australia small bag

Valentino Rockstud could even sew something like this up in a fabric of your choice.

In Summary - 

1. Figure out where your life is taking you
2. Have a bag for each type of activity in your life.
3. The more time you spend in any one particular activity, the more bags you should have for that category.

Easy, eh?

The same applies for clothing & shoes & jewellery, but that's another post.....


  1. Thanks for this post, Val. I've always been a one bag at a time girl because I am terrified of buying handbags. But loving this might just help me become a little more adventurous.

  2. Great bags. I really like buying bags and these are nice.