Earlier this year, I reached a rather interesting conclusion.
I am a bag lady.
Actually, to be more accurate, I am a bag person. I love bags. And I don’t just love them – I am willing to spend the money to prove it. A few months ago, I had an interesting conversation with some co-workers that revolved around shopping habits. A male co-worker started half-seriously quizzing three of us (all women) about the max amount we have (or would) spend on various articles of clothing – general categories like business suits, watches, shoes and, yes, bags. Each of us gave wildly different answers, reinforcing the argument that value (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder. Of the three, I was the one prepared to spend the most amount on bags and, funnily enough, far far less on shoes. Which is odd, because I love shoes too; I’m just not inclined to spend a lot of money on them.
We also talked about the price ceiling – the maximum amount we would pay for something even if money was no object. Personally, I am convinced that there is a direct and proportional correlation between one’s income and the price one is willing to pay for an item, but only up to a certain point. I might spend $200 on a watch now as easily as I might $20,000 if I were a billionaire, but would I spend $50,000? $100,000? $1,000,000? No, I would not. It would not be worth it, intrinsically, to me. Someone else might disagree.
Anyway, to return to the matter at (or, rather, on) hand – bags. My love affair with bags is a relatively recent development, though it has taken significant strides in the last year. I think it has to do, in part, with the function that bags fulfill in my life on a daily basis. I travel everywhere like a pack mule, so I favour large, capacious bags by necessity. They have to be sturdy, and they have to be pretty, and they have to be easy to maneuver … which can be a tall order. It helps if they are made of real leather (sorry PETA!), especially in the wintertime; one of my last cheap-ish purchases was not, and the “patent” finish started cracking within a few months. I’m partial to totes because they are so convenient, and I love coloured bags because they liven up an outfit while being pretty versatile too. Most people consider a black bag to be a wardrobe staple, but would say that you can probably make do without one. A grey bag will substitute in a pinch, and for a pop of colour, there is nothing like red patent.
I could wax poetical about my favourite bags and brands, but that would require a lengthy tome (with footnotes!). My love-hate relationship with Coach would take up a whole chapter, for starters. [I would recommend, however, the book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas for anyone interested in the history of luxury brands, including the granddaddy of them all, Louis Vuitton.] So I will mention only my current obsession, to which I was introduced by a very fashionable friend of mine last year. It is Arcadia bags. Behold:
I now have three of these beauties (in different colours and styles, natch) and I am always on the hunt for more. They are beautifully made and well worth the investment; you can find them from time to time at Winners for $100-$150, which is a great deal for an Italian-made leather bag. Considering the prices being charged for poor quality fake bags out there (another story), these are a real find. And if you do find one, let me know!