Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bag Logic

Passing through these pages I would completely forgive you if you said I was bag-mad. A bit obsessed. And if you thought that I just bought handbags on a whim. Of course, if you read my back and forth with the Roxette and Cara, you'll know that I am probably more the exact opposite. That I overthink my purchases at times.

The truth is, that I do both. Sometimes I think and analyse to the nth degree. Then a bag, which I loved and would probably work very well, becomes almost unfeasible and I abandon the idea altogether. Then again I might see something that I just pounce on. Usually (and thankfully) the impulse buys tend to be comparatively affordable. Well, everything is relative...

Anyway, I thought it might be useful for me to share the reasonable levels of consideration that  give a bag purchase. I think buying your first designer handbag can be quite daunting - even if we don't consider questions around authenticity, where to buy and budget. 


Row of Mulberry Bayswaters at Bicester Village


When considering a bag for myself (or advising somebody else on a purchase), I would always consider the following:

1. Lifestyle
What kind of bag would you use most often? Do you want something for a night out, a special occasion or day to day? Would a bag that's suitable for work be the best investment piece?

2. Size
The above will make you think about which occasion you want your bag for. So how much would you want to carry on those occasions? Just a purse, phone and key? Or maybe even just lippy and a credit card? Or will you want to lug around snacks, a change of clothes, dummies, toys..? The bigger the bag, the more you might try to carry, whilst a smaller one might discipline you into thinking what's important and what can stay at home. Also, don't underestimate how much all your stuff weighs.

3. Use
How do you like to organise your bag's contents? Do you prefer a boxy style that retains its shape? Or something lose and casual. Do you hate rooting around your bag and want to be able to find everything quickly? How do you want to carry your bag? Do you need to be hands free? (Maybe because you're chasing after a toddler or carrying something else.) Do you have any issues with your neck or back that would make it uncomfortable to be carried a certain way? Or would a heavy bag cause any issues? Are you fine having to baby a bag or do you need something you don't mind getting wet, e.g. because you commute and might have to walk in the rain.  
And then I'd decide on what I do and don't want from the below:

Size
Self explanatory, right? How big is the bag - what does it hold?
Big - holds your kitchen sink
Medium - typical handbag size
Small - fit in your key items (purse, keys, phone, tissues...)
Mini - essentials only (key, credit card, coin purse)

Mulberry Roxanne, Rosemary and Blenheim

Strap
How can you carry this bag?
Very Short - handheld or crook of arm only
Short - maybe just about on the shoulder
Medium - carry on the shoulder
Long - carry cross body (or usually: adjust to taste)

Mulberry Mini Alexa in Cabbage Green



Weight
Closely linked to size and strap is weight. A big bag will most likely weigh more than a small one - as will its contents. A long strap can make carrying your bag much easier, if it's too heavy it might still prove a struggle for everyday use. Then there is the choice of leather, that can make a real difference. Especially important if you have issues with your shoulder(s) or arm(s). The below are all relative to yourself, of course. What's heavy for some, might be no problem for others.
Light - no problem to carry
Medium - no big issue if carried for short times
Heavy - best to sit on a chair or the car seat next to you. Not really a daily commute bag. (My Roxanne falls into this but I can make her somewhat easier to use with a wide guitar strap.)

 


Structure
How boxy or slouchy is this bag? Will it fall into a puddle if empty?
Slouchy - yep, this one puddles
Boxy - will hold its shape

Mulberry Alexa in two different finishes

Care
How sensitive is the leather/finish? Will two drops of rain have you run for cover or is it one of those bags that you can chuck in the corner without worrying?
High Maintenance - take outside at your own peril, order an extra chair at dinner
So so - treat her with respect, treat with Collonil and be a bit careful
Bomb Proof - well, maybe not quite bombs but raindrops, baby dribble or even a drop of wine 
- as long as she's been Collonil'd you don't have to worry.




Colour
I'm a sucker for Mulberry NVT Oak and think it kind of goes with everything. But then again, I also never match shoes and belt or bag. For me, function always comes first. But maybe you're looking for a specific colour, or for one that will go with an existing outfit? I If you are, you might already exclude certain styles, that simply didn't come in your desired hue. If you're not looking for a specific shade, it's still worth considering the following choices:
Neutral light - nudes or oak, I think goes with everything
Neutral dark - black or very dark blue
Pop of colour - punchy, you have to be happy for your bag to either stand out or have the wardrobe to match/harmonise


Mulberry Beatrice, Small Del Rey, Mini Alexa and Multizip Pouch


Accessibility
I like doing the "queue test": Imagine you're stood in a queue and have to fish out your purse, travel ticket or passport quickly without setting your bag down. Does it work? How quickly? I like bags I can work cross body for that reason but have found other bags that I expected fiddly to be ok - and others that I thought would be ok don't work quite as well.
Fiddly - yep, takes me a while and/or I have to worry to drop something (or maybe I look like an idiot doing it?)
With Practice - might seem fiddly at first but once you get the hang of it, no problem.
Easy - open, retrieve item, close. That simple.

Mulberry Alexa with Samorga insert


Occasion
Are you looking for a bag for every day or for a (fancy) occasion? I personally don't do any matching of shoes with bags and am happy to carry something sparky with my jeans - but you might think differently.
Dressy - something very pretty, maybe sparkly, probably best for a special occasion
Everyday - goes with a day outfit, doesn't look too dressy

Mulberry Small Bayswater Buckle in Oak NVT

What I do now, is exclude all bags that contradict what I would select as a 'must have' from above. And look closer at those that tick multiple boxes - or at least those that are most important. And then I have a pretty good shopping list. (If you're new to (vintage) Mulberry, have a look at my review archive, where you can find reviews of lots of Mulberry models - and match them against your shopping list.) What's your absolute must have?

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