“Here’s what happens with a purse. You start small. You start pledging yourself to neatness. You start vowing that This Time It Will Be Different. You start with the things you absolutely need—your wallet and a few cosmetics that you have actually put into a brand-new shiny cosmetics bag, the kind used by your friends who are competent enough to manage more than one purse at a time. But within seconds, your purse has accumulated the debris of a lifetime.” — Nora Ephron
Purses, bags, totes. Vital tools in a Real Woman’s world. Sporty, funky, dressy, designer or bargain bag, there is one out there for every mood, style and need we may have. Many of us accumulate substantial collections of bags, and yet still yearn to find the “perfect” one that meets our primary need: a fashionable place to hold all of our mobile stuff.
Some of the R.W.’s in my life go the simple route and have one or two bags they carry at all times, no matter what they are wearing or where they are going. These tend to be larger, sturdy purses with multiple compartments. That purse has become as much a part of them as their right arm, and no matter what they may need, they are guaranteed to be carrying it within the depths of this portable vault. Like an episode of “Let’s Make a Deal”, you can ask one of these R.W.’s if they have any item – tweezers, band-aids, tissues, stain sticks, cosmetics – anything – and within 30 seconds of rummaging, they can produce said item.
Other R.W.’s I know use purses and bags as a fashion statement. They have a bag for virtually every outfit or every day, and certainly match to the appropriate season. They somehow have the ability and time each morning to select the suitable purse, insert the items they will need for that day, and head out looking fabulous. Their totes make statements, catch attention, say something about their personalities and style. These women have also usually mastered the art of living with a small, quaint, cute bag when the style calls for such.
As for me, I tend to struggle somewhere in between. I’m a big-messy-practical bag kinda gal yearning to be the small trendy purse fashionista.
If you place me in front of shelves of lovely new handbags, I will invariably reach for the smallest, cutest, most impractical one in the display. I will then carry on an inner monologue, trying to convince myself that I’d use it when I just need to take a quick run to the store or out to dinner and only need to carry a credit card and a lipstick, since that is all it could possible hold. Just like Nora described, I start out with grand illusions of going small and neat. If I do try to use a small purse, I end up trying to cram too much into it, getting frustrated when I can’t close it, or can’t figure out how to wedge in my phone.
If I select a more practical satchel, I find I do the same thing as I do at home with my closets: I fill whatever space is available. Check book, store rewards cards, wallet, personal products, cosmetics, pens, receipts – you name it, I throw it all in. Then I start to hate the fact that the purse is heavy and bulky.
I have quite a few bags in my collection. My husband does not understand this whatsoever. In men’s eyes, purses are mystical, magical, scary items. They don’t understand how we can have such an avid love/hate relationship with them, nor how necessary we believe them to be in our lives. They also don’t understand how some of us R.W.’s need to have lots of them. Most men hate it when an R.W. asks them to hold their purse for a moment – they quickly look around to make sure no one sees them with it, and then hold it at arm’s length as if it is a poisonous snake. Ask a man to go into a purse to find something?? Fugetaboutit. And yet, I have lost count of how many times while out and about with my husband, he will hand me keys, or some other item and ask “can you put this in your purse?” Huh. Who needs the purse now?
The silliest thing of all is that within my collection, I have bags that I have rarely used, or not used in a very long time. Perhaps I no longer like the color, or style, or functionality…Yet for some reason I’ve kept them. In contrast, I have others that I’ve used so much, they have become worn and ugly. Like a well-loved teddy bear, they are thread-bare and tired, and no amount of cleaning or repair will bring them back to their former beauty – and yet, again, I can’t seem to part with them. And with all of this variety, I still continue the hunt… the hunt for the next perfect bag. It’s an R.W. thing.
A couple of years ago, my BFFs came up with a brilliant idea: jewelry and bag swaps. We gather all of our accessories that we no longer want or use, pile them together, and review, trade, and pick through, selecting whatever we like. Anything that doesn’t get claimed is then donated. These swap gatherings are very fun, because great stories are shared as to how some of the items were acquired, historical accounts of gifts and impulse purchases are described, and spontaneous memorable modeling moments emerge. And, best of all, we each go home with new-to-us items, including bags, at no cost.
After all, no R.W. can have too many, right?