It is time for me to think about acquiring a new purse, and not just any purse will do. I'm not looking for utilitarian this time, nor for professional, nor for "acceptable." I'm looking for FABULOUS. And FABULOUS is hard to define, much less to find.
I've never spent more than, say, $25 on a purse before. In fact, my tastes have always shunned expensive bags; there's always something not-quite-right about them. When I went to college, my dad wanted to buy me a Coach bag, but I talked him out of it because I'm not a fan of that label. A Coach bag, to me (and correct me if I'm wrong; I'm going off gut instinct here), says "wives and daughters of the old boys' club." It says high quality, high class, and practical. I am not any of those things, but I can certainly see why my dad wanted me to project that image. It's really not a bad image! And projecting it would help me enter the social circles that my grades in school semi-qualified me for. I think a lot of preppie, med-school-bound Indian girls had them, actually. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that the higher-end purses I've seen always made me feel like I was trying to be someone else when I picked them up, whereas the cheap no-name bags that I've gravitated towards made me feel...more like myself, whatever that means.
That all changed when I visited the Designers of Chicago shop at the Macy's on State Street. I picked up the Verona by Joelle Nadine
(the one directly below/between the "Where to Buy" and "Contact" buttons, tried it on, and was instantly transported to fabulous purse heaven. It looked right, it felt right, and it was oh so beautiful and luxurious. The pricetag didn't allow me to consider it, though I have to admit that I might have if the purse had been black. Now I'm cursing myself because I want a fabulous purse and can't seem to get this desire out of my head, despite the fact that I've declared a moratorium on clothing purchases for myself until January.
In order to vicariously satisfy this desire, I've been on ebay pretending to shop for a purse. And I've actually turned up a few things that I could see myself carrying. I'm sure that the market will be entirely different by the time I'm ready to spend serious money on a handbag, but at least I can see what works and what doesn't work for me in the meantime.This Thomas Wylde duffle bag
rocks. I love the little metal skulls! It's not as over-the-top goth as what I currently carry (a black canvas messenger bag with a giant silk-screened angsty fairy on the flap), but it's not run-of-the-mill or corporate in the slightest. I like the size of it too. Despite being a petite woman, I don't mind being dwarfed by a ginormous bag; I find that it actually has a somewhat slimming effect.
I also like this Etienne Aigner clutch
. It has an interesting shape, and I like the diagonal line of the flap. I've never carried a clutch purse before, though; it seems like it might be annoying to have one hand tied up by carrying it. It's a good size too; I can easily carry a sketchbook in a 14" x 10" x 2" bag. And this one, I can afford! I'm not sure how I feel about the pebbly texture of the leather, though; it strikes me as a bit matronly, and I need all the help I can get to stay out of that category. This one by Betsey Johnson
is...really blingy, though I do like the ornamentation on it. I think I would like it a lot better if it didn't have those two pockets on the front.
I didn't expect to be putting something from Juicy Couture on my list (though I did really want their pink Sidekick II case last year), but this one
is really cute and is a far less blatant advertisement than most Juicy Couture bags I have seen. I even like the chain tassel decoration. Normally any kind of ornamentation hanging off of handbags makes me want to stab someone in the eye.
I also really like the Loo Loo bag by Diego Rocha
, though I can't figure out how to link to it directly. It's the third bag from the left on the website. The play of colors is so subtle and beautiful that I can forgive both the tassels and the fact that the bag isn't black (though my wardrobe does demand a black bag). As an aside, I have spoken to Diego Rocha; I've seen him at Chicago Apparel Industry Board events. He is a sweet, charming, and energetic young man. I've run into Joelle too, but I haven't had the pleasure of speaking to her. When I do finally purchase the Fabulous Purse, I wouldn't be surprised if I end up buying from one of them; I might as well support local designers when I can, especially when they are awesome. Even if the bags I like from their collections are the wrong color. The better existing Chicago designers are able to do, the more likely the industry in Chicago will grow and I won't have to move to NY to find work...