Tag Archives: Chanel

How to Dress: The Handbag

You might have guessed from past posts that my approach to fashion is one of less is more. I like to buy things that are high quality, so they will last.

There are a few reasons for this. First, I’m a creature of habit. I’ve had my Ugg boots (yes, I own a pair ;P) resoled and dyed numerous times over the years because they are so wonderfully comfortable and I don’t want to throw them out. They are like old friends. Second, I don’t have an enormous closet. Third, if I have to chose quality over quantity (and I do, because, well, budgets!) I pick quality. I certainly understand why others don’t make that choice and I get it 🙂

Handbags are the most important items in my wardrobe. An excellent, high quality handbag is an essential for me. I use one every day. Even if I’m in yoga pants and a ponytail, I’ll look down at my bag and it will cheer me up. A quality handbag dresses up almost any ensemble.

Handbags are also a highly personal item. They can reflect your sense of self.

You can use a messenger bag (like this Kate Spade model) if you have a sporty style:


A stylish Johnny Was for that boho feeling:


A studded purse to reflect your edgy side (like this Burberry model):


A leopard print to express your wild side (shown: Dolce & Gabbana):


A Birkin bag to emphasize your ladylike manner (the iconic Hermes version):


OK, I totally am crushing on ALL of these.

I have kept and restored every handbag I’ve ever bought, except my Coach bag from the 90s. (Which is now totally back in style. GRRR!) I have a few vintage bags from the 20s-50s from family members who have passed on.

Don’t get rid of a good bag!!


I tend to treat purses as investments, and buy the best one I can afford. I buy an everyday purse every 5 years. It’s the single biggest expenditure of my wardrobe. Once I am done using one for everyday, I “retire” it, restore it, and keep it for my fashion-loving daughter.


I have an everyday purse (currently my brown Prada bag, formerly my black Chanel tote) which in my case, needs to hold a lot of stuff. I used the Chanel tote as a glorified diaper bag for years. Because the Chanel tote is so well made and black, it held up beautifully through the most undignified of incidents. You are probably shaking your head in disgust that I used it for the twins when they were babies, but I’m not one to hide “the good stuff” and never use it. Five years later, it is still in great shape, although I will be sending it to a purse spa soon for “rejuvenation.” The Prada purse I just bought I chose because it’s huge and holds a bunch of crap and looked the best of all the bags I tried. (Many, many, many.) It’s also patent leather, and doesn’t get beat up easily. I’m tall, so bigger bags generally work better for me in terms of aesthetics. It will get me through the next 5 years.

Then I have some fun bags to jazz up outfits. Those I generally get on sale, like the coral bag I scored for $29.00. (Inspired by my favorite outfit last year.) I also have smaller handbags that I used extensively, like my Kate Spade purse. It’s from the late 90s so it’s not vintage. YET. For really dressy occasions, I use the small vintage bags.

What’s your handbag philosophy? Do you have a lot of purses or just a few?


Filed under My Favorite Things, personal style