The Great Bag Search

I don't usually write so much, but this has been somewhat of an ongoing Mimi & Meg topic...the bag.  I've been on the hunt for the perfect bag (for me) for several years now. My list of what that perfect bag entails is somewhat lengthy, and now that my lifestyle will have a lot more traveling (yay!) due to the Air Force and not living in the same city as C for a year, I am closing in on this perfect bag. Besides the fact that I need (some people define need differently) it for traveling, and frankly, I'm sick of carrying a college-like canvas tote to work, and my other small purse that I've had for several years. I think the icing on the cake for my small bag was when someone said, "that looks like my parents old camcorder bag". Really, REALLY! My functional (but too small) black bag looks like your parents old CAMCORDER BAG!!! Wow, you nailed me. That's exactly the look I was going for. Maybe I shouldn't listen to a 20-something bartender. It wasn't the bag when I bought it anyway, it just needed to do while I was on my quest. It's been a few years now...I didn't want to buy any other bags until I found the one, because I knew it would be an investment, if you will. I will probably carry it for years, like I have (sadly) carried the camcorder bag. I know some of you will totally feel me on this. I mean, it's like hair...you wear it EVERY DAY. It's just best if you love it. My hair color = necessary highlights.

My criteria for this perfect bag, I said was lengthy, and I meant it. It has to be big enough for at least a magazine or two and a book (I constantly have one or the other with me), planner, moleskine, wallet, phone, and other necessities like lip gloss, pens, etc. So, fairly large. But not too big, like a weekender. It has to be a neutral color, like black, tan, light tan, gray, or purple-gray; but probably black since it will get used all the time. I would like to have the two-strap option, and it would be ideal if the shorter straps fit over the shoulder for shopping and everyday wear, and the longer strap mostly for traveling. I want it to be somewhat classic with an interesting edge, but not something that wouldn't still be cool in five years (or until I die). It also has to be in what I would consider a not-to-ridiculously-high price range...I won't name numbers. I love Chloé, Balenciaga, Marni, Givenchy, etc. with the rest of us fashion-loving, designer-desiring, quality-leather feeling, well-concepted, good-taste-but-not-the-pocketbook-to-match women, but there are limits. The artist and creative in me appreciates every detail of a well-made bag. I actually think about creative minds and hands of the artisans around the world who work on these types of bags.

I'm just at the point in my life where I want much much less stuff, and only items that I really like. I'd prefer one nice bag that won't fall apart after a year of abuse, over five other bags. I'm in simplify mode. (But nothing against purse-lovers who love to have tons to choose from!) I feel like I'm defending wanting a quality leather, well-designed, well-made, and okay, expensive bag. But I do, just one. (For now anyway.)

So where has this great bag search landed?
If someone had a gun to my head and said, "PICK YOUR BAG!"
Right now, I'd have to say either one of these two (that is without ever seeing them in person):

1. Olivia Harris by Joy Gryson Bag
I love the concept of the small straps being hidden. On the left, the small straps are out, on the right, they aren't! It looks like two different bags! So clever those bag designers. The only thing missing is a pocket on the exterior for the essentials: keys and phone. But this is not a deal-breaker.

2. Alexis Hudson Hope bag
Whew, this bag makes me a little weak in the knees. Watch the video on the site and your heart might stop beating for a second. A secret pocket! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? The kid-who-grew-up-in-the-80s-in-me says awwwesome! Man, that leather looks so supple...I'll stop now before it gets weird. 

So which one do I like better...tough call. I'd love to see them both in person, carry them on my shoulder, put my stuff in them, look in the mirror, try them on with my trench, feel the leather, and then decide.  
So, have I bit the bullet? Nope, but I'll let you know when I do. I won't mention it again until I do take the plunge after this crazy long post.

There were many many others that I won't bore you with why they weren't the bag. This Marc by Marc Jacobs Lil Riz Dr Q bag would have been perfect, but the leather is too shiny. Deal-breaker for me. I also really liked this BCBG Crocodile-Embossed Convertible Bag, but I think I need to see it in person before I can determine where it stands. I'm also thinking I need to go with black.

Informal Poll (because I'm curious like that):
I really want to know your bag situation now that I've written a book about mine! Not that anyone will read this far down, but if you do, I'd really love to know!

1. How many bags/purses/clutches/totes do you have at home? Yep, total. Every closet.
I have 11 total (I'm good at donating every year). 4 clutches were gifts. 1 clutch I bought. 3 bags date back to college (which has been *gasp* 5 years since I graduated). My camcorder bag from above, and 2 canvas totes.

2. How many of them do you actually use, say in a span of 3-6 months?
5 (3 clutches for occasions, the camcorder bag & a tote).

3. How often do you buy bags (all shapes, sizes, and prices)?
Not often. Waiting to purchase the big one.

4. How many do you buy per year (or in the past year)...even from Target?
In the past year I can honestly say I have only bought one $20 canvas tote bag. 
I told you, I've been waiting to find *the bag*. :)
Please tell me about your perfect bags!
Post a links to them in the comments if you want!


Anonymous said...

you should also look into CC Skye bags if you haven't already.

Johanna said...

OMG, you sound like me!
I have been looking for the perfect bag forever and have always gone back to my 2 staples. 1 black one from Club Monaco that fits over my shoulder and also cross body and a cute clutch that was a gem find at urban outfitters for $20. I just bought a LAMB black hobo, which I actually think you had featured a while back. But I am a little obsessed with this line-particularly the Dylan-Medium Size, the leather is amazing. Have a look, would love to see what you think!


aeb said...

1. How many bags/purses/clutches/totes do you have at home? goodness. five standard size purses. an innumerable amount of clutches and i could say i've used all but one in the past year (and i've been desperately trying to make the unused one have a night to shine!)
oh, and three boat and tote ll bean bags, and one longchamp. those are used for travel and gym.

2. How many of them do you actually use, say in a span of 3-6 months?

3. How often do you buy bags (all shapes, sizes, and prices)?
very rarely.

4. How many do you buy per year (or in the past year)...even from Target?
in the past year, i've purchased one bag (aforementioned clutch) and received one as a gift.

i guess i don't envision one perfect bag. one for all the seasons, for sure. i'm still searching for my perfect spring/transitional bag... i can't bite the bullet on the matt & natt i'm lusting over because i just don't think the quality is good enough to stand the test of time.

Mcsears said...

When I was reading your description of the perfect bag, the Marc Jacobs Classic Q Hillier Hobo came to mind...it's much better than the one you have linked. The leather is top quality and it has tons of inner pockets. I have so many handbags that I couldn't splurge for the leather version, so I went with one that is made of a vinyl like material in a deep gray/blue. I am in complete love! I got mine at Nordstrom, so you should see it in person.

As for other bags...I have too many to count, honestly! I change bags at least twice a week, if not more often. Most of my bags are ones that will last a lifetime, so it is worth it to me to invest a little more in them! Good luck!

sarah said...

hahahaha i love this, and i totally understand. for the past year, i have used one bag, the Foley + Corinna city tote. i am obsessed with it. it is amazing leather, it is cool (to me) without being trendy and without being flashy. and, you can wear it two ways! The mid city one is probably a great size, but mine is the large and I can actually use it for weekend trips, when i dont overpack. when i go out, i just carry a wristlet. I am just like you described now, i like having a purse I really like instead of a lot that I feel so-so about. Good luck with the search!

musingness said...

The Alexis Hudson bag is making ME weak at the knees - very classic and gorgeous, but edgy at the same time.

For what it's worth, the Olivia Harris by Joy Gryson seems a little too casual for every outfit and every occasion - and my not hold its shape.

Both gorgeous choices though, I wish you luck!

V said...

Alexis Hudson bags are great! I've had one for several years now, and it only gets better with age. I still continuously get compliments on it, the leather is so supple and sturdy, and I drag it just about everywhere (so you know it's well made.) I would definitely go with that one...

Heidi said...

"that looks like my parents old camcorder bag"

This had me ROARING.

I have a Chloe bag. That's right. A Chloe bag! I found it at a boutique in Sarasota like three years ago. It was marked down to $30 because it came with some kind of a padlock thing-a-jig that was completely unnecessary and superfluous. I probably wouldn't have used it anyway.

The best thing about this Chloe bag. It's made from a slouchy tan leather that I absolutely love. I'm not much of a bag lady, nor am I brand-savvy, but I know it was a total find. I didn't have my wallet with me at the time. I had left it at Joe's apartment in St. Pete. (We were just dating at the time and I was still living in Sarasota.)

Anyway, because I loved the bag and knew it was a total find, I called my sister PK and begged her to let me use her credit card to charge it. (She owed me from a previous debt anyway.) I handed my cell phone to the clerk, who then took PK's credit card number over the phone.

I'm trying to find an image of it online ...

I found it! Bottom left corner:


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