FAQ about my handbags

Forget the BAD hair colour and the stripey trousers the fashion police should have arrested me for - look at the joy on my face about my Gucci handbag!
Forget the BAD hair colour and the stripey trousers the fashion police should have arrested me for – look at the joy on my face about my Gucci handbag!

I receive quite a few questions about my handbags so I will have a go at answering the most common ones:

How tall are you?

I am just over 5ft 7inches/1.71m tall and weigh about 114lb/52kg. Despite my small frame I have broad shoulders and big hair. This means I can carry off large bags.

What bags do not suit you?

Regarding my shape, I cannot wear cross-body bags (I have a large bust and they make me look like I have four boobs), backpacks (my waist-length hair gets caught in the straps), small backpacks (disappear under my hair and make me look like a hunchback).

Because of my job and the Swedish weather I cannot use very light coloured or textile bags – they just dont stand up to all-day every-day use.

Which styles do you prefer?

I use bags that can hold A4 papers, water bottle (standing up), folding ballet pumps (for wearing inside on snowy days), newspaper, and all my other things (keys, Filofax, umbrella, phone, tissues, pens, gum, penknife, business cards etc)

Most of my bags can be carried in my hand, over my arm and over my shoulder.

Which styles do you dislike?

Bags I do not like are:

  • round bags with very short straps (like the LV Speedy without bottom stiffener)
  • clutch bags
  • very small bags
  • drawstring bags
  • bags with flap tops
  • bags with a single strap
  • cross body bags
  • very structured OR very floppy bags

–  the reason I don’t like them is not that I don’t like how they look – they are just not functional for me.

How many bags do you have?

I used to have 200 bags but at that stage I bought and sold bags all the time – that is how I financed each new purchase. I had a big clear-out and now I have about 50. Ten of them are very high-end and the rest are medium price point. I don’t buy very cheap bags as I don’t use them and they end up costing me more per use than my expensive ones.

For overflow though I use cheap canvas shoppers and the ones you get free with magazines. These tend to give out after heavy use and I just throw them away.

Which bags will you never sell?
I will never get rid of my discontinued Mulberry bags – my Oak Tooled Bayswater, my Luella Giselle and my Oak Roxanne.

How do you store your handbags?

I used to store them all in their dust bags, stuffed with acid-free tissue paper. But these days I leave them uncovered and unstuffed so I can use them all and look at them whenever I want.

I have the bigger, more structured ones on top of my shelves, which run the length of one wall of the bedroom. I also have a walk-in closet where other big ones are stored. The flatter ones are stored in a large antique dresser. All have to be kept away from my cats who are attracted to everything they can climb into. They do however, recognise my ‘NOT the Mulberry’ voice and scatter when they hear it!

How do you treat your handbags?

I never clean or moisturise them but I do handle them a lot and use them which means the leather tends to thrive in a way it would not if I shut them up in a cupboard for years.

Satchel handmade at an African market stall
Satchel handmade at an African market stall
Zara
Zara Shopper
Gucci (and natural hair color)
Gucci (and natural hair color)
Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton
Mulberry and natural hair colour. I am really lucky that I have no greys as mousey and grey is not always the best combo.
Mulberry Bayswater and natural hair colour. I am really lucky that I have no greys as mousey and grey is not always the best combo.
Pierre Balmain
Pierre Balmain
A better view of the Balmain although I look like I'd just got off a horse!
A better view of the Balmain although I look like I’d just got off a horse!
Luella Giselle
Luella Giselle

For Anna – a photo of the Zara shopper showing the shoulder strap. And another photo of my old faithful ballet flats…

Zara_Bag

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Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

20 thoughts

  1. Janet your list of “Bag Dislikes” I could have written, I have the exact ones. I have a Mulberry Bayswater that I carry but the flap I flip backwards and leave there so that I have an open top. The only time I shut it is when we are out at a restaurant etc.
    I love the look of your Zara Tote, your Pierre Balmain bag is that the one you had designed? What is your absolute favorite bag?

  2. I simply love handbags too…. Probably the only things I love more than my pens and Filofaxes. I so agree with you on buying expensive ones because I feel they are more of an investment that an accessory. Was very happy to see that you wouldn’t sell the Bayswater. I had put a comment on another post as well. The one you have is such a fabulous one. Simply love it.

  3. You’re so right about buying quality and it being a better value. I was given a very simple but very elegant black Gucci wallet as a birthday gift back when I lived in Rome in 1999. I carried that wallet every day until mid 2012. It looked new for about five years, and then aged gracefully for the next five years, and only started to look really tatty recently. Sadly, when I went to replace it I found that the model has been discontinued and I don’t like any of the current ones as much. Since then, in two years, I’ve gone through three or four cheap wallets. I can see that I would quickly exceed the cost of the Gucci on these “disposables”.

    Great post! I have so much trouble finding a good bag. Wish I could have you be my bag consultant next time I purchase one!

    1. Buy expensive, cry once; buy cheap, cry many times.

      Terry Pratchett put it quite well when he discussed the Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of Socio-Economic Injustice:

      “The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

      Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

      But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

      This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

  4. As a bag lover (and collector, hanging head LOL) I really enjoy looking at and reading the stories of all of your lovely bags. My high end are not quite as high end as yours but still cost a lot As for counting them, I don’t dare – when it comes to boots and shoes, I am already “the Imelda Marcos of the North”! LOL My one regret is giving away my Chanel bag many years ago (probably mid-70’s which I had bought in the latter part of the 60’s). I still miss it and tell myself – that was stupid! Not much I can do about it 🙂 I also have a favourite pair of ancient ballet flats with a 1/4″ heel – Capezzio – real ballet style from years ago. Our instructor used to wear them and that was before 1960. (At that point, I switched to Scottish Highland Dancing – it was a lot more fun and a fantastic workout.) They are a bit small now but I still take them travelling with me or to Dr. appointments, etc. in the winter when you need to remove your boots. I will check out H & M – thanks for the suggestion! I have one about a 10-minute drive away. On your list of “do not likes” – I agree completely except for the cross body bag and a single strap. Everything else, I agree bugs me. Loved all of the photos with different hair and bags. You look so happy! 🙂

  5. Beautiful bag collection! And fabulous modelling pics! I especially like your mulberrys and have finally made the plunge for my dream bag (for years): a used Mulberry bayswater in classic black as I am not so much an oak leather person though we otherwise seem to have very similar tastes!
    I do have two questions: How did you manage with the Zara bag as it doesn’t really fit over the shoulder? Thats the only reason I did not get it.
    And second: what are those beautiful ballerinas you are wearing in the bottom pic? Are those the foldable ones you talked about? I use Cocorose ones as they offer some support (knee problems) but these look even nicer.

    1. Thank you Anna. You won’t be sorry about the Bayswater – it is a wonderful bag and a true classic.

      The Zara bag has a shoulder strap which fits inside the bag when you are not using it. It is a nice length too. I will add a photograph of it to the bottom of the post for you.

      The black ballerinas I am wearing in two of the pics are just super-cheap faux leather ones from H and M. I buy a couple of pairs once a year and when they look worn I buy more. My folding ballet flats are called ‘killer heels without the squeals’ and I got them free with shampoo from lookfantastic.co.uk a few years ago. They are fantastic and fold up really small. Before that I had Ballasox by Corso Como. http://www.corsocomoshoes.com/shop/collection/ballasox/count/24/

  6. I love looking at your handbag pix! And I do like that satchel in the bottom pic. I adore handbags, but don’t buy very many leather ones, as I’m vegetarian, but the occasional one sneaks through. In fact, I bought an absolutely gorgeous hand-made one from a local couple who make lovely items. It’s dark blue nubuck with a red lining and a hand-carved Celtic design on the outside. Interestingly, they’re both vegetarian as well, and fussy about where the leather comes from – which makes me feel better about buying the items! They do fabulous carved leather notebook covers as well.

      1. Eeeeeeee! Thank you! Lovely bags – and I like seeing them modelled, if you know what I mean. I always want to see clothes on proper people, and ditto bags, so you can see what the straps are like and so on. I do wear bags across me, so I like long straps. I always wish I could get away with the shorter straps, like on your Louis Vuitton one, but I can never get the bag positioned quite right and end up taking an innocent passer-by’s eye out!

      2. Your ballet flats are fab! I used to wear them loads, but once my feet got to size 9 (UK)/European 43, I couldn’t find nice ones in my size. I am big up (5ft 9″) and out, but don’t have a very big bust, so I don’t mind cross-body bags.

      3. Put another pic of the ballet flats up. If you do have access to H and M they usually do very comfy cheapies. They don’t provide much support but they are soooo comfortable.

      4. Those are lovely shoes. I need to have a nose around. I’ve found several places online that do bigger sizes, but I’m always a tad nervous of buying shoes before trying them on! I’m just glad I don’t have to dress up smart for work too often – although I do now have what a colleague calls ‘girl shoes’ for such occasions!

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