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My Accidental Handbag Collection

Handbags have never really been on my shopping radar. Sure, I know they serve a purpose and can round off an outfit nicely. They are also functional and can stand the test of time. I just never thought too much about them, or added them to my shopping or wish lists.

As a result, I always had bags in my closet. Out of necessity really. Pieces that I'd purchased to serve a purpose, but I didn't feel any real love, joy or connection to them. These are pieces I was using frequently and had spent money on. I'd hate to think about how much money I spent over the years on bags I really didn't love. Let's just say they were fine. And I always tell my clients, we shouldn't settle on fine.

Moving on.

Recently, out of circumstance, I have ended up with a small, yet functional collection of bags that I adore. That really feel like me - and suit my taste and lifestyle. I have ended up with this group in some ways by chance, but I am so pleased with each style that I thought I should share.

I am aware, like anything when it comes to style; my taste, lifestyle needs and preference may be far different than yours - which is what makes things interesting. I'd also love to hear some of your faves. In the meantime, here is what is working well for me:

1) The Errand Runner

The first piece I want to hi-light is the cross body Lululemon Festival Bag.

Mine is in more of a utilitarian green. Personally, I prefer this pink, but mine is very versatile. This bag now comes in a variety of colours (and sometimes print) so it should work for a range of taste. I purchased this a few years ago before our trip to Italy based on a recommendation of a friend. This bag met all my criteria. It is small and light, yet large enough to fit: a small umbrella, sunscreen, wallet, sunglasses, a light wrap/windbreaker, small hairbrush, lip gloss, and my cell phone. My traveling essentials. It unzips and opens up to be quite a deep space. Inside there are several pouches one which also zips (my valuables felt very safe). It is also water resistant and easy to clean. And it's cross body - I love being hands free whenever possible. It accompanies me on all my travels and is perfect for weekends and errands. Highly recommend this one!

2) The Tote/Carry All

As mentioned, I have never really been into bags. Which may seem surprising given this image of me with the Louis Vuitton Carry-All. This ended up my way via my mum.

Growing up, I remember her being very much as I have been about bags. Not overly fussed over them, yet always had several in rotation. However, about 8 years ago, she spotted the Louis Vuitton "Never Full" when we were on holiday in Maui. She visited this bag every day during our trip and for several years after: in Hawaii, in Vancouver, and New York. She knew it was indulgent and couldn't bring herself to purchase. A few years after these visits, my dad suggested he was considering surprising her with it for Christmas. I was so excited and completely on board. My dad and I went to Holt Renfrew (which was an experience in itself) and I will never forget the look on her face when it was under the Christmas tree. Magic.

I talk about cost-per-wear a lot. And for the years that followed, this bag accompanied her everywhere. It really put in some major mileage!

When she passed, the bag sat in the closet for a while. Before setting out on my honeymoon in Paris, I asked my dad if he would mind if I took it along. It just felt like that bag needed to be in Paris. He thought it was a perfect idea.

Note: I don't usually carry both bags at the same time, but this was taken at the airport so both were with me ready to travel!

Since then, the "Louis" (as my mum referred to it), has become my daily work bag. I take it to school with me and when I work with style clients. I never had a tote/carry all before, and now I don't know how I lived without one.

I would have never bought this for myself, but I love the memory and connection associated with this bag.

That said, you don't need to pay designer prices to get a very similar style. If you genuinely fall in love with one (like my mum did), it might be worth taking the plunge and saving up for it - or dropping some major hints...

I've rounded up a collection of some moderately priced functional (and lovely!) ones in this catalog. Once in the catalog, you can click each image for details.

3) The Structured Purse

This is the newest addition to my handbag wardrobe, and is the reason I now feel I have all my needs met. Mike surprised me with this Kate Spade Byrdie Bag on our recent wedding anniversary (quite glad he ignored the fact that it was technically "paper").

As with the Lululemon Festival bag, this one suits my needs on so many levels. It fits that list of essentials I like to have with me and has the cross body or structured handle option. Mike chose pale pink (he knows me well!) and the "make it mine" feature allows you to create multiple looks over time by purchasing new top flaps that generally range from $50 - 100. Currently I have the stripe, but am eyeing up a black quilted top with pearl detailing but the animal prints also call my name...

It is more of an investment piece, however, the option to change it up makes it more versatile and cost effective over time. I love how we can express our personality through style, and this bag offers this option and creativity.

There is also a "make it mine" feature in a clutch which has a cross body option. For those of you who don't carry as much around as me!

I also love that even though Kate left the company years ago, its shape feels classic Kate. Structured, architectural and beautiful with the option of whimsy and personality.

On another note, I know we were all so sad to learn of the recent passing of Kate Spade. If you haven't had a chance to hear the podcast "How I Built This" featuring Kate and Andy Spade, it is really worth a listen. Feels like you get to know her a little and she seemed so very lovely.

Here are a few other cross body purses that caught my eye - several are Canadian designers (which I am loving!). You can get more details from this catalog.

A final note: I always try to have some of these reusable tote shopping bags at arm's reach - they fold away so easily in any sized purse. I find them so handy. Love that they come in so many colours, prints and designs. This one is from my favorite bookstore "The Strand" in New York. If you haven't been and find yourself in NYC, highly recommend a visit.

Feel free to send me a message or photo of what is working for you - I'd love to hear from you!


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