By now, it is no secret that I love bags. If we were to judge the matter by my spending patterns, it wouldn’t even be a close call – I spend exponentially more on bags than any other items in my wardrobe. As far as preferences, I’m an oddball kind of bag snob; I love certain brands, but not indiscriminately – if I don’t love the look of the bag, I won’t buy it just because of the label (and there are plenty of ugly expensive bags out there, let me tell you). At the same time, there are certain bags whose aesthetic merit is enhanced by the brand cachet, and I’m not immune to that. [Case in point: my vintage Chanel double flap. I like it just fine, but if it didn’t have the iconic appeal that it does, I would probably sell it.] Like any bag collector lover out there, I keep a mental list of must-have dream bags – Holy Grail bags, for the not overly religious – that I hope to own one day, budget permitting.

A sampling of Holy Grail bags: Mulberry Suffolk - ostrich; Ferragamo Fiamma - croc; Givenchy Nightingale
A sampling of Holy Grail bags: Mulberry Suffolk – ostrich; Ferragamo Fiamma – croc; Givenchy Nightingale

One of the very first bags to make it on that list – in fact, perhaps the very one that started my love affair with bags – was the YSL Muse Two.

YSL Muse Two
YSL Muse Two

I remember seeing it in a fashion magazine back in 2008 or early 2009, and being absolutely smitten with it. I even cut it out and pasted it into my fashion scrapbook. [I may or may not have drawn hearts all around it. Don’t judge; this was before Pinterest and Instagram, kids.] At the time, I was just starting to get interested in clothes, and beginning to think about personal style. My wardrobe has completely changed since then (although, interestingly, I still like a lot of the things in that old fashion scrapbook), but my love for the Muse Two has remained steady. For 6 years, I’ve kept an eye out for it in local consignment stores and Kijiji, hoping to find it for a price my wallet could bear. It wasn’t meant to be.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about refining and, at the same time, simplifying my style and my approach to getting dressed. I want to get that “wow” feeling every time I put on an outfit. I want each one to spark joy. And that has meant carefully reviewing each individual piece in my closet – including my bags. I’ve been letting go of a few, but also thinking about ones that were missing from my closet. (“Missing” might seem like a wildly inappropriate choice of words considering how many bags I still have, but I’m speaking as a collector here, so I hope you’ll indulge me.) After all this time, I still adored the look of the Muse Two. It’s a combination of two of my favourite bag styles: the schoolgirl messenger (think Mulberry Alexa, minus the cross-body strap) and the classic satchel (think Mulberry Bayswater, and any of my other Holy Grail bags). It has a beautiful, distinctive closure, but is otherwise completely devoid of identifying logos. It’s just … perfect.

Luckily, having made the decision to hunt it down once and for all, eBay came through for me – again. The version I had originally “pinned” in my scrapbook (blue ostrich) is still selling for an unconscionable amount, but I was able to find a leather/nubuck tri-color version (the same one that Kate is holding in the ad above, I think) in good condition for a reasonable price. I hesitated over the fact that the seller was from Japan, but its feedback looked good, which was encouraging; I also recalled (from my Purse Forum days) that people had generally positive experiences with Japanese re-sellers of luxury goods, encountering fewer issues like counterfeit items being passed as authentic, misleading or inaccurate descriptions, and so on. So I took the plunge … and was extremely pleased with the result. My bag arrived incredibly quickly – 3 days! From Japan! And the shipping was free! – and was just as described. She is a beauty:

YSL Muse Two tricolor
ooh and ahh

I thought it might be helpful to do a quick review, just in the off chance that any of you happen to be thinking about buying one, and especially since, lovely as she is, the Muse Two has its … quirks.

First, let me say it again: I adore the look of this bag. This is entirely subjective, so I don’t expect you to agree with me, but please keep it in mind because it does influence my overall impressions of the bag. So, looks-wise, I give it a 10 out of 10. Quality-wise, it’s also pretty good – I would say 8.5 out of 10. The leather is superb and, as I mentioned, I love the look of the hardware. Here is something I had not realized before getting the bag, though, not having done much research on it beyond Googling and drooling over photos of it: my version is essentially a canvas bag, with leather pieces attached to the front, back, and sides. The back piece comes over the top, creating the flap.

What that means is that the inside of the bag, including the middle compartment/pocket, is made out of canvas, as are the external seams/edges. And what that means is that the bag is quite floppy. It is not completely unstructured, but it’s not as solid as it appears from photos. On the plus side, this means that the bag is lighter than it would have been, were it made entirely out of leather. The main drawback is that things tend to shift about inside the bag much more, because the dividing pocket is floppy. This is not a huge issue for me, but it could be a problem for someone looking for a very structured bag. I don’t think the canvas makes it less sturdy overall; this bag is 6 years old or so, and still looks great (very little wear on the canvas corners). However, that’s also a factor to consider if you tend to be “harder” on your bags.

canvas interior
canvas interior

In terms of functionality, I wouldn’t rate the bag more than a 7.5, and that is partially influenced by my love of its looks. The problem is that beautiful closure; combined with the top handle and the general floppiness of the bag, it makes it very difficult to open and close the bag – and absolutely imperative that you do so. If you don’t close the bag (and, really, you need to be closing all 3 snaps, not just the main one), it gapes right open, making it nearly impossible to carry without spilling something. Closing it is difficult to do “on the run” because of said floppiness. Basically, I try to minimize the need to open and close it as much as possible. I can see how that would get annoying for some people, quickly. I don’t mind it very much, but I’ve got those love goggles on, you know what I mean?

In other respects, the bag has good functionality. The handle has a decent drop; it can be easily worn over the shoulder if you’re not wearing a bulky layer, like a winter coat. (It does have a tendency to slide down when I’m wearing my coat, but I tend to carry it in my hand in any event.) I believe I have the medium, and it’s a good size for anyone who likes roomier bags. For reference, I’m 5’7 and I feel like it’s a very height-appropriate size for me (although I think it looks bigger than it is in photos, for some reason).

YSL Muse Two tricolor
my preciousssss

Long (yikes) story short, here is mah new bag – I luvs it. The end.

Oh, one more thing: if you found this review helpful, and would be interested in knowing more about any of my other bags, shoot me a comment and I will think about doing a semi-regular series on bag reviews. Just a thought.

35 Comments on The Dream Bag, Revisited

  1. yes please continue reviewing bags. I’m not really a bag person, I’m more into coats or jewellery but I am on the lookout for a nice, practical bag designer or not… I’m interested in your MJ bags as a reviewing topic. 🙂 I also sort of want that Givenchy bag now. The one you’re coveting. I like the shape…

  2. Love the bag review and would like more. On some sites it’s difficult to get a good view or measurement of inside pockets. I would also like to hear about your MJ bags. Thanks.

  3. My grandmother is a ‘bag’ lady and I think I caught the bug. I haven’t put any thought into a holy grail list (yet) but I know what I like in a bag–it has to be made of leather and full of unique details.

    • I have similar criteria – it has to be leather, and there has to be something about it that’s special. I guess that last part is in the eye of the beholder …

  4. I would love to hear more about your collection of bags, shoes, jewelry. Even furniture if you have a mind to expand into interior decoration more.

    • I’m not nearly as invested in my shoe and jewelry purchases as I am in my bags. With that said, I’d be happy to talk about my general approach to buying shoes and other accessories. Same with our home DIY projects – as long as there is interest on your guys’ end.

  5. I would LOVE it if you kept reviewing bags. Beautiful quality bags are one of the few things I really don’t hesitate to splurge on. I sometimes find great deals but hesitate to make the leap because I recognize the name and it’s cache but don’t know much about the quality. Also, a plus-sized woman, sometimes it’s my preference to wear something very simple and have a knockout bag.

    • You make a very good point that I think applies regardless of size – a knockout bag can elevate any outfit, no matter how simple, and it’s effortless. But bags have the added bonus of being one-size-fits-all (subject to personal preference, of course).

  6. It’s gorgeous! Love love love. And I get having a bag you love that’s not…easy. My beloved red epi speedy (also a Japanese eBay purchase) is kind of awkward to carry with such short handles and it’s big, but it is such a perfect thing that I don’t really care as much about the functionality. It sparks joy every time i look at it.

    • Your red epi is beautiful – I’ve been looking for a red bag myself, and have thought about trying to track one down. Sometimes looks trump functionality … at least for us bag junkies 😉

  7. Yay for finally tracking down a dream bag, and I’m happy to hear it wasn’t a disappointment. 🙂 Yes, please reviewing bags! I often find your bags to be the most interesting part of your outfits, and I love to know about weight, functionality, and quality in addition to aesthetics of a purse.

    • Thanks, and duly noted! If there are any specific bags from my collection you’d like to know more about, let me know 🙂

  8. I would enjoy reading more bag reviews. I’m definitely more of a handbag than a shoe person myself, and I find that I do enjoy reading about and looking at bags even when I’m not personally in the market for anything new.

    • It’s good to know there are so many fellow bag lovers reading BCRL – I won’t worry as much about boring you guys with my obsessions.

  9. While I am not a bag person myself, I would love more reviews! Maybe you’ll convert me. 😉 But in all seriousness, it is helpful to see what the bag is like in real life, quirks and all.

  10. Love this review and hurrah for finding a holy grail bag! You’ve got some great handbags and I’d love to see more reviews also. Cheers

    • Thanks and thanks! After all the feedback on today’s post, I’m definitely planning more reviews, so if you have any specific requests, let me know!

    • Yeah, that’s the Nightingale. I’ve been wanting the green (or red) version for ages. I saw it once in real life, and it looked lovely. But, sigh, still waiting for a good deal …

      • I have the green nightingale and it’s gorgeous! I always get complimented on it. The only downside is that it’s a little bit heavy, but i guess if you get the small size (the one pictured above) it would be no problem. Mine is the medium and sometimes it gets to heavy to carry.

        • I think I would actually prefer the medium, because I like bags on the bigger side. I carry a Mulberry Bayswater, so a heavy bag is no problem 😉 Does the medium Nightingale come with a cross-body strap?

  11. Please review more bags!! I love love love them – and the one size fits all. I love (too much) Furla bags – and have more than a couple that aren’t super practical (i.e. good for carrying work stuff) but that are gorgeous. I loved the review of this bag and until the end I was like – ohhhh – maybe I need to find this bag – but then you talked about how it flops open/needs everything secured/hard to do on the run and I was crushed. I travel so much it is almost a requirement now that my bags have some small outside pocket for money/id/phone that is easily accessible or the bag is easy to get into. 🙁 But I appreciate the honesty! Do you have a “bag that got away” – one you wanted, didn’t buy (price/whatever) and you still want it but can’t find it? Jewelry/shoe philosophy would be fun to learn as well.

    • Oh man, I’m such a doofus! I completely forgot – the Muse does have an outside pocket on the back. It runs the entire length of the bag, and it’s secured by 3 pinhead fasteners (similar to the front 2 straps). I never bother to fasten it though, and it’s where I keep my phone for easy access.

      Sheesh, I really need to step up my review game …

      There aren’t many bags that “got away” from me, LOL! But I can think of one situation where I juuuust missed out a great deal. I ended up buying a beautiful LV Sarah wallet in Bleu Nuit (dark teal vernis leather) 5 years ago or so (it was only about $200 and it’s still in amazing condition after daily use all these years later). When I bought it, the store owner told me that it had been consigned along with the matching Alma bag … but someone had just bought it earlier that day. I subsequently found my own Alma (in Amarante, which is also a gorgeous colour), but I sometimes wish I’d been able to snag the matching one. Especially since I wear blue so much.

      I’ve also started to regret selling my YSL Besace bag, now that I have the Muse. It’s made me appreciate the uniqueness of YSL bags more. I sold it for next to nothing, and the person didn’t even end up keeping it – she just sold it on 🙁

      • Outside pocket!!! Yea!!! I think I must now start stalking the Muse. And now I googled the YSL Besace bag – what a cool looking bag. Why did you decide to sell it – did it not work well for what you wanted? Hmm…,maybe you shouldn’t review bags – for the sake of my wallet.

        • LOL! I sold the Besace because it hadn’t really fit my style for years … little did I know that my style was going to take a sudden detour into left field (aka more minimalist aesthetic, less cutesy). I’m kicking myself over it every day. And, honestly, if a good deal pops up on eBay, I’ll be all over it.

  12. Can you also add a Bags 101, for those of us who use the same purse every single day and it’s purely utilitarian? Those of us who have never used the word “wearing” in reference to a bag? (“To complement her shoes, she’s wearing a red Prada bag…) What are the logistics of using a different bag each day? Do you have a little one you move from purse to purse that holds all your actual stuff? Do you dump the contents of one into the next? Are you super minimal with just a credit card, keys, and cell phone inside?

  13. Just curious, I’ve never bought anything from Ebay before, but how do you know if you’ve actually received an authentic designer item vs a fake? You truly are a bag person, I’m impressed with the brand and model name knowledge. I have only one good friend who ‘teaches’ me about bags like the Givenchy Nightingale, most (all) of my other friends would stare at me blankly if I started spouting out bag names, ha!

    • I do a lot of research on the bags I’m interested in before I buy, so I have an idea about what to look for. It also really helps if you have an chance to see the bags in real life first, to know what the leather looks and feels like. But there are a lot of good resources online, including the free authentication you can get through Purse Forum. There are also paid authentication services as well.

      Most of my friends are not bag people either, which is why I love talking about my bags here, LOL!

  14. I love bags, they are my weakness! Would love to read more bag reviews from you. I’m particularly interested in your MJ bags, since I don’t own one myself, but I stalk several on eBay. Do you own a multi-pocket hobo?

    • I don’t own a multi-pocket, but I do have a Blake and a Stella, and love both. They’re heavier bags, because they are lined in suede not fabric. I generally love MJ and MbMJ bag quality – and I’m working on a post about some of my MbMJ bags 🙂