HANDBAG STYLES come and go. Over the years, because of their desirability and exclusivity (and prices), we’ve chosen to anoint many of them as “It Bags.” In the ’90s, Fendi’s baguette, a fanciful pochette nestled under the arm like a loaf of French bread was totally impractical but adorable. So adorable it was famously featured in a cameo on TV’s “Sex and the City.” Just prior to that and in contrast, Prada‘s black nylon utilitarian backpack was wildly popular. Remember the ’70s when Louis Vuitton’s sort of shapeless canvas monogram Speedy was a lust-for? At New York Fashion Week in 2012, Celine‘s trapezoidal luggage tote, along with Chanel’s iconic shoulder bag with chain, was the off-the-runway star, belying the fact that it probably cost more than the monthly paycheck that most of the women in attendance were taking in. Although I can’t recall a particular designer model, clutches or envelope bags had their day in the sun, too. Loved the soigné look but trying to hold a drink in one hand (forget dainty food) and a clutch under the opposite arm is only for the dextrous and determined.
Flash forward to today’s raft of offerings. Instead of one standout (okay, if I were forced to pick, it would be Celine’s Trotteur or possibly one from Gucci), there are many, in all price ranges, including drawstring bucket bags, “camera” bags, small purses that can charge i-Phones, bags embellished with charms and saddle bags like the one worn by Academy Award nominee Charlotte Rampling in a scene in the film “45 Years.” That immediately got me thinking how stylish she looked and chided myself for tossing my very similar 20-year-old one from Dooney & Bourke.
A friend recently surprised me with a gift of a metallic tote bag, which paired wth my all or mostly black winter go-to ensemble transformed it from dull to chic and thoughtful. I’m considering relegating my black-and-cordovan bag to the archives.
In any closet, there are everyday workhorse bags and ones that are just fun and frivolous. For your own late-winter wardrobe transformation, we’ve put together a sampling of handbags in both categories, any one of which we’d be happy to add to our own cache.
— Janet Kelly