Wednesday, February 25

There's just something special about a really nice handbag!

My daughter and her first good bag...a Kate Spade.

I raised children for a long time and money was tight.  My handbags often had to carry diapers, snacks and bottles along with a lip gloss tube and mascara that was the extent of my makeup routine. Many times a half eaten banana got shoved into my handbag and the change I had thrown in there made for an interesting combination.  This was also a time when everyone said you had to have a handbag to match your outfit or shoes so if I forgot about the half eaten banana as I hurriedly changed bags to match a new outfit, well...a whole new level of science project outside of the refrigerator resulted!

My handbag selection was mostly whatever was on sale at Target.  I was proud of my large selection of inexpensive and colorful bags.  I had something to go with everything but storing them was a whole other issue.  Then I went to work at Saks Fifth Avenue.  I remember the first day the store opened and watching the Chanel bag specialist carrying a bag up the escalator like the rare and exquisite jewel that it was (as the most expensive bag in the store) to a high profile client.  I felt like I was in a movie as the poor shopgirl working in the lesser accessories department selling hosiery.

On occasion the Chanel bag specialist wasn't available so I was trained to show the exquisitely made bags, or the Fendi's and even the Pradas!  I recall selling a Chanel bag for $1800 to a young woman as a diaper bag.  She wasn't pregnant but she might be one day and she wanted to have a bag ready just in case.  Then one day I helped an older woman who was looking at Fendi bag during a special event sale.  She carefully examined the bags under consideration and held the bag, tried it out filled with the contents she would carry taking her time with her purchase.  She told me she learned long ago how good quality has value.  A great quality neutral handbag would go with much of her wardrobe, last for years and made her feel great just carrying it.  She was insistent that classic handbags never go out of style and saving for a new one every couple of years was worth it.

I used to make fun of the cult of designer handbags.  I didn't understand why anyone would want to carry a garish brown initialed Louis Vuitton bag for the status when it was so ugly.  If it lasted forever, big deal.  It was not beautiful or stylish.  (Now the luggage is a whole different story but then you have to fly private planes since the trunks equal the yearly salary of a baggage handler).  I did learn to appreciate the quality and beauty of a classic handbag.

I was in Seattle for a photography thing and wasn't treated very well by a young producer.  I was hurt and angry but friends and family were far away.  Since I had free time being dismissed as unimportant I went into Nordstrom.  I love their cafes so I thought I'd spoil myself with a lovely lunch.  As I passed the accessories I decided to have a look at their handbags.  I felt the buttery soft leather of a cute little  Marc Jacobs bag with a sweet gold clasp in a bird shape.  It was a small bag perfect for holding essentials while exploring the city and way beyond my budget.  I bought it anyway.    My handbag budget is not nearly Chanel worthy maybe enough to buy a Prada cosmetic bag but I'm thrilled with the quality of what the Marc Jacobs.  Two years later I bought another one at the Nordstrom Rack store.  A big brown slouchy thing I throw around and still looks great.

I've given or thrown away all my other inexpensive bags.  At $5 to $20 a bag it's really not been a cheap habit.  It's been two years so it's time for a bigger beautiful handbag, black or taupe maybe?  But I'll wait a bit longer.  I bought my daughter her first good bag, a taupe Kate Spade on sale at the Nordstrom Rack store.  Bananas and snacks are banned from her bag!


My first Marc Jacobs bag being abused as a camera bag.

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