Tag Archives: prada

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

Italian Fashion: The Reality


“There are so many manifestations of pleasure in Italy, and I didn’t have time to sample them all. You have to kind of declare a pleasure major here, or you’ll get overwhelmed.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Rome was a lovely break from the stoic life of an overwhelmed SAHM of twins. I chose Italy as the place to spend my birthday and our 10th anniversary because I thought we needed an indulgent, slow, languorous place to nurture ourselves and fill our souls with joy and pleasure. Italy was the right choice for all of those things.

Gilbert is right. There are so many beautiful things Italians excel at and you can easily become a sightseeing machine, which would override the whole point of enjoying Italy’s charms. I chose to major in fashion and food. Darcy: history.

I have to say that the weather forecasts were pretty off. It was colder than predicted, and I didn’t pack enough warm clothes. I layered a lot adding unfortunate bulk in photos. Or maybe that was from all the spaghetti.


On my birthday, I dragged Darcy to the chic shops near the Spanish Steps. First up was Prada. Going inside the Prada boutique was like entering a rarified museum of couture: the pristine white walls, glossy racks and intricate shoes, coats and dresses were somewhat awe-inspiring. (As were the prices.) I saw a gorgeous full-length ivory silk dress and remarked to Darcy that here was a gown that could be worn at the Oscars. “I’m sure it will be,” he responded.


We stuck to the Italian shops, going to Gucci, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Tods, Ferragamo and Valentino. To see items in person that I have seen in magazines or on fashion bloggers was a kick. I saw these shoes in person and they looked absolutely lethal.

I loved Dolce & Gabbana, where the prices were even more fearsome than Prada, but the overall atmosphere was so Italian: full of lace, corset dresses and chic sunglasses. I seriously considered buying a leopard print bag, but sticker shock put me off.


I do consider handbags (and shoes to a lesser extent) good buys. I don’t love jewelry (most doesn’t look good on me, even if I think the above Bulgari necklace is pretty fantastic) but an excellent classic handbag is something I can pass down to my daughter and would consider an investment. So I looked at the bags seriously.

After checking out the HIGH fashion, we went to a more realistically priced shopping area where I picked up a cheap faux fur turban. I thought it was rather fabulous, but mostly it kept me warm.


EVERYONE was wearing a coat like this, by the way. It was quite possibly the definitive fashion item of Italy. Honestly, I wish I had brought one. It would have cut the chill significantly!

Do you “major” in one area when you visit a place? If so, what is it?


Filed under Design, personal style