Fashion & Beauty

How to Buy a Handbag

So when stumbling upon Rebecca Minkoff I decided to take a peek, the little girl inside was saying ‘Yes, please!’. Now the truth is, looking for a bag is probably the hardest thing anyone can do, including shopping or jeans or shoes. With shoes, the size does not change- and your style when it comes to shoe shopping knows exactly what it wants, and well, goes for it. But when it comes to bag shopping, that’s a whole different story. The amount of care you have to put in to make sure the specifications of the bag (such as the size, how deep it is, if the materials are durable and if I will be actually able to put everything in) are exactly right, since most good bag companies do not come at a small price, while even with heels you can occasionally cheat and go for something a tad cheaper.

So what are the essentials when it comes to bag shopping? These are extremely important especially if you are buying an investment piece, as nothing counts more than making sure your bag ticks all the right boxes.

1. Take into account the material first. Usually, if the material is good enough, you can proceed to the next step. Good materials for bags are leather, of course, as well as a range of thick canvases. Fake leather tends to crease and fall off after a period of one year, and nothing is more annoying than buying a bag and having to throw it away so soon. Other materials and fabrics have to be tested to make sure that they can handle the wear & tear.

2. The shape and depth. Yes, most people would put this as the first point, but if the material is not good enough, my honest thought is just to not get the bag. The shape of the bag, of course, depends on what will be carried inside it, whether only your travel card, phone and vaseline, or all your books, folders and laptop. Now even if there is an awkwardly shaped object, that does not mean that the bag is impossible to make. Drawstring bags have a flexible and wide top, as well as usually being of canvas, which makes them more durable than plastic bags, for example. For small objects, the shapes can be virtually limitless, while if the wearer decides to make their stylish bag a heavy load carrier, then they have to take into consideration the material and the straps, as well as the lining.

3. Straps and zippers (or other fastenings). Make sure that when you hang the bag on your shoulder, it does not get in the way of your elbow- properly weighed out bags do not push themselves onto the awkward areas, similarly to a pair of Louboutins. Straps should not be very thin- the thinner the strap, the less practical the bag, as anything tearing could also result in the potential loss of precious objects. Around 3cm for a strap is safe, especially when made from leather- with cord and other thinner fabrics, the best thing to do it to somehow reinforce the weak points of the strap- usually either the top (where the shoulder is) or the bottom (near to the top of the bag) by taping or adding additional material. Fastenings are extremely important- most female handbags do not have a specific zipper right at the top, preferring to insert a magnet midway to hold the edges of a bag together. There are multiple advantages in having a zipper right at the top- the content inside is constantly protected and there is no risk of the content falling out. Also, the shape and the design of the bag do not change- the material does not change at all, so the impact of the weight of the content isn’t as bad. Other fastenings may work too, but the basic and probably the most durable is the zipper.

4. Pockets are your best friends. Maybe not for some people, but for fashion journalists one of the most important lessons when it comes to working is- be organised. If you cannot be organised, make sure that even in some aspects, your work is neat and tidy. Where better to start than with the bag? The most basic of bags should have at least one separate pocket for your small items (these are usually small side bags with a minuscule zipper. Remember to write out a list of all the essentials that you carry with you when you go to work- phone, keys, notepad, diary/calendar, chewing gum, lunchbox, laptop… Making sure that your laptop -for example- has a separate compartment in your bag could make sure that it is unbeaten and clean the whole time.

5. Design and lining are the creatively controlled parts. When it comes to the design, it is not that I do not think it is important. I love the way the bag looks, and it is the first thing that jumps out to me. Yet when it comes to bags, practicality might not actually be such a bad thing, as what most people miss out on is the truly important aspects that I have mentioned above. Do not limit yourself when it comes to the lining- I love the endless possibilities a new lining could make. Try making it personal, so putting down your favourite colour for example. This way, you’ll have a bag which is ideally only yours.

So, with all the practicalities down, and remembering that there might be a substantial price to pay for that ideal bag, I wanted to introduce Rebecca Minkoff to S T Y L I O N, who is the woman behind the brand Rebecca Minkoff, and has a wonderful bag collection for this fall, which I would like to show. Making sure that the advice doesn’t go out of the window, I will also put up a couple of other choices from different shops.

By Stylion

Writer, creative and explorer of all things Japan. Central Saint Martins graduate and fashion journalist for 1 Granary and Lampoon Magazine. Writing about all things fashion – from fashion weeks, food and technology to fake influencers, art exhibitions and cultures around the world.

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