Entertainment Style Kirstie Clements: What I’ve learnt about handbags, the hard way

Kirstie Clements: What I’ve learnt about handbags, the hard way

Hollywood star-turned-princess Grace Kelly holds the style of Hermes handbag named after her. Photo: Getty
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One fashion truism I have come to discover is true is that a well-made, pricey handbag is an investment piece.

If you take care of them, they last for decades.

Some have resale value. They have been fashioned by skilled craftsmen.

These are all very positive factors when we do the sustainability/cost per wear/ethical work practice rationale and checklist before we purchase.

But there is still a problem if you buy one that is on trend – it ends up going out of fashion.

I have just trawled through my handbag stash of the last few decades and boy have I learned some hard lessons in retrospect.

Because I had a high-profile job in the glossy magazine industry, I was right at the head of the queue when it came to fashion victims, and as I glance back, I now realise the designer “it” bag  movement that started at the end of the 1990s was mostly sent to confuse us and send us broke, via the physiotherapist.

Handbags were so big back then, giant oversized bags large enough to fit everything you’d ever need to use in a day, plus a mid-sized spaniel or largish cat.

They were often adorned with huge buckles, chains, tassels, logos, excessive pockets, zips, padlocks and then, when they ran out of area space to decorate, silly trinkets that dangled off the handle and had no earthly use except to add weight.

Add to that the idea that we were convinced we had to buy a new one every season.

Now in 2020, it took all the physical strength I have to just lift my collection, polish and pack them up, and get them ready for a new home.

Overly designed handbags feel kind of passé, a bit ‘madame’.

Tote bags exude sleek functionality. Photo: Getty

I have found the most practical option is a roomy tote bag which can fit my laptop and books, diary, notepads etc. with a small leather zip pouch inside the tote, for keys, lipstick, spectacles, credit card.

Then I just grab the small pouch when I need to dash out for lunch, coffee, dinner whatever and leave the tote at my desk.

Game changer. If I’m travelling, I take the same tote and wear a small, soft cross-body bag to keep my valuables/passport in.

There are however, some bags that will be eternally in fashion.

For lovers of handbags and for those who can afford it, these are keepers, the ones your granddaughters will cherish.

The all-time classics, the ones you won’t regret.

  • Hermes Birkin bags and Kelly bags (sophisticated, simple, beautifully made). Actually any Hermes bag is an heirloom piece, they don’t do gimmicky.
  • Louis Vuitton Neverfull Tote (the most useful bag on the market).
A Louis Vuitton monogram bag is seen, during this year’s London Fashion Week. Photo: Getty
  • Chanel quilted 2.55 flap bag (the quintessential Chanel bag)
  • The Bottega Veneta knot clutch bag (classic evening clutch in woven silk or leather)
  • Celine classic box bag (a chic, 1970s style shoulder bag)
  • Balenciaga Motorcycle city bag (big, slouchy, soft and a bit cool).

Or a basket from the markets.

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