Bags: building a perfect collection


Marie Claire Russia April 2011
Recently I have developed a liking for a shoulder bag and its tempting design – a slinky polished tan leather body with a touch of walnut and black, a sensual movement of a gold coloured chain and an overall fancy appearance. It’s medium, but roomy. I can carry it on my shoulder or turn into an envelope-shaped clutch. I am pretty positive I need this bag. It’s beautiful and different from the ones I have.

While marinating an idea of a possible purchase I got thinking about my other bags and the way the collection was acquired over the years. What was the driving force behind those buys? Love? Need? Practical thinking?

I have never been a bag lady – it’s the shoes, books and lingerie for me. I am pretty good with resisting the bags until the right one comes along and it doesn’t happen that often. However, whilst I believe that you can’t have enough shoes, I feel that there should be a set number for the bags because a good bag can compliment a few pairs of footwear.

But really, how many bags make a perfect collection? Have you ever thought of that yourself?

For starters, any girl needs a good roomy tote or shopper, best in classic brown/tan or black. Tote allows us to carry our life around, shop in style, house a laptop or anything equal or larger than A4. Incredibly useful. I got mine, a tan coloured Jet Set Michael Kors tote, a year or so ago and me and Peanut (named mine after its official shade) have been pretty much unseparatable since.

Of course, before Peanut, there were B and Ledbury. The hand-helders (but also from the Tote family). I could have done with one, but the girls were bought in different time periods when the soul desired and budget allowed.

The Fendi B was a dream bag. I saw it on a runway and felt a tight squeeze in my heart. It was a perfect summer city bag for me – the canvas and tan brown leather with a very distinctive look, both adorable and chic. I didn’t buy it straight away – the price was way too high for me and I didn’t want to join masses and masses of celebrities who carried it (really don’t do that whole celebrity thing…) A year later as the hype faded and seasons changed, the B was mine. Its fabric curves make it a bit of a high maintenance, but dreams are allowed to be.

And the Ledbury is my cuddly pet. I really can’t explain it, but touching that Mulberry leather is kind of therapeutic. Ledbury is my comfort blanket. She also made friends with a few pairs of shoes I had, they look really good together. Just like Peanut, Ledbury is a all year rounder with an anti-aging attitude.

I do think that having a hand-held bag is a good idea. Particularly if you fancy doing a bit of lady-like chic (think Louis Vuitton RTW Fall 2010). Again I’d go with tan or black, but for creative types anything colour-blocking is worth considering, particularly as they are very much in style right now and the choice is huge.

Having said that, if I could turn back time, I’d rather have a Bayswater instead of the above trio. If you are looking for the most practical solution and a bag that will last you for years and years to come without losing its classy appearance, Bayswater is brilliant – it still has the roominess of a tote, can be hand-held or worn on a shoulder and it’s just such a beautiful thing to have, especially in tan.

Another essential is a small clutch or shoulder bag that you can wear across the body during a day or take out at night. It took me a while to find something to fill the gap. Missoni did the trick. Chanel 2.55 or Le Boy 2.55, in particular, would be a dream come true (not happening any time soon, though).

For those loving a touch of minimalism, Celine (and who wouldn’t think Celine), Chloe (Louise or Jade) or Victoria Beckham are brilliant choices for any leather strap styles.

If your lifestyle require your presence at frequent fancy events, then I’d definitely suggest a separate box clutch (McQueen, Bottega Veneta or DvF) for those occasions.

And, of course, a raffia tote or basket for those summer walks through a sun-kissed town to the beach for years to come. Even if you think you don’t need one, there will be time when that very bag will seem like the most obvious and best choice to finish an outfit and carry your daily essentials around. In style. I often think that a good straw bag is not only great in its own rights, but can easily replace any white leather bag that we often see as a summer essential. I have the white leather, but now I wish I had the raffia instead.

Here we have it. Five essential bags (shopper, tote, clutch, shoulder bag, raffia/straw tote). Plus an indulgent item. Because no matter how practical we are trying to be, the fashion is about a little fan, too. And my recent find, the bag that inspired this entire post, is going to be that element of fan for me. Should I choose to buy it, I will certainly introduce you to each other. Promise.

As a P.S. I would like to add that buying a very expensive designer bag isn’t essential in order to be stylish. Use examples above, but look around. High street, especially Mango, Karen Millen (check their clutches and shoulder bags – AMAZING!), Reiss and Whistles produce amazing collections each season, while Monnier Freres offers a few stylish, but affordable designs by some of the “it” names including Phillip Lim, Sonia Rykiel, Furla, Vanessa Bruno, Marc by Marc Jacobs, DvF, Jil Sander, Michael by Michael Kors and more.
Photo source: Marie Claire Russia April 2011


  1. What a great bag shopping guide! I don't own a designer bag (I'm more of a shoe girl too), and I don't have too many, but I always pay attention to the quality of a bag and the design must last for years. I always rely on a Romanian brand when it comes to bags (my latest purchase was a colour-blocking hand bag that I absolutely adore) and on Italian brands. I have a perfect black tote (very roomy, even big camera-friendly) I got in Rome 5 years ago, it's still as good as new and has truly proven to be an essential bag for me. I, for one, never buy shoes or bags from Zara (I usually pay as much as I can afford on shoes especially), but last week I gave in and bought a taupe bag that I can also fold and carry as a clutch. It's lovely. My collection includes a few more bags, but what I really need is a raffia bag (have always preferred it to the white bag for summer). xoxo
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Thanks, now all I will be doing is thinking about ALL those bags you just mentioned, haha. I'm a bag girl but for many years I have managed to mainly just look at them and admire them without feeling the need to buy everyone I see. I was worse when I was younger; if I saw a bag it was usually mine within a few seconds. Italian leather had me swooning ... and still does. This summer I was hoping to find the perfect clutch but I'm still looking for the one that really speaks to me.

    Have a wonderful weekend. 'See you' after my blog break ;-)

  3. Great post. I think what's missing on my list is a Shopper. A Celine one would be perfect.

  4. Always interested to see what other women like to carry. I guess I'm an anomaly since I pretty much only carried my own bags for years. Although this year I did branch out to a colorblocked backpack from Target that I take to the beach--so helpful when I'm shooting. And I also have a kelly green Chesneau (high end designer bag from Ireland) that is beautiful quality but has an uncomfortable strap. Mostly I carry a soft tote from my line and just switched over to a black version with gold piping that we haven't released yet, it's my favorite so far and people keep stopping me to ask about it so I think it's a good sign. I have a bunch of solid patent leather clutches that I wear to evening events, a larger shopper tote that I travel with...and that's about it :) Hope you have a lovely weekend!

    xo Mary Jo

  5. I'm so glad you wrote this. I've never been into purses, bags etc. but recently I feel the need for them. It is so important to have different kinds. You outlined all of them! And they are so necessary depending on the type of event you're going to. EXCELLENT Little Rus!!! Have an awesome weekend my friend.

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I am a 'bag girl' and I love discover what other people like and look for in a purse. Personally, I like either very big bags or clutch with interesting design. Not sure why, but I haven't found the model in the middle, which may be the Fendi Baguette or the Chanell 2.55.

  7. really fashionable and perfect collection ..
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