October 27, 2013

Perfect Purses

Lanvin Happy Bag.

A fumie named Rachel posted the following query on my fragrance blog, Katie Puckrik Smells:
Hi Katie, I love all your perfume advice -- thank you for it! I also love to see your style: your cool blouses, hair and makeup, and vintage-looking necklaces. Just thought I would ask...I have been looking for a new handbag and am frustrated by the selection out there. May I ask what you carry -- I bet it would be something I would like. Thanks!

I started to formulate a response, but I realized that my thoughts on purses would far exceed the limits of the comments section. So nudged by Rachel (and thanks for the props on my style, Rachel!), I've decided to give my handbag filibuster some real estate on Mixties.

As described on the "Welcome" page for this blog, my personal style is "mixties": a blend of 20th century sartorial signifiers that conjure the aspirations of days gone by. For purses, I lean towards 70s preppy (natural tan, buckle detailing) and 80s glitz (studs, quilting, "off" colors).

On the preppy side of life, anything from the Coach Classics line will have one looking like an extra from Love Story in no time. I love their City Bag:

Coach City Bag.

I have one in British Tan, but it looks great here in Vermillion.

Another high-end preppy brand is Dooney & Bourke. Fashion slaves haven't yet taken D&B to their boney bosoms, which is one of the reasons I love the line. It doesn't feel played out.

Another reason I crave D&B is that they have a yachtload of styles with scores of colorways. You'll have to cruise their website to get the whole picture, but I've selected the Double Strap Tassel Satchel for ogling purposes here:

Dooney & Bourke Double Tassel Strap Satchel.

The drawback with the bigger Florentine leather Dooney & Bourke bags is that they weigh a good 2 1/2 to 3 lbs empty, so start practicing your arm curls now if you see one in your future.

My hot tip for snagging D&B's is to track down vintage ones online. Since the purses are so rugged and well-made, they're usually in great condition. And you can find discontinued styles and colors that will have connoisseurs giving you knowing, well-done-you nods in the street.

The good thing about the preppy look is that there are cute bags to be found at 1970s prices. L.L. Bean and Le Sportsac have scads of options, though most of Le Sportsac's prints have been stuck in a cul de sac of hellish whimsy for many years now.

Ever since I read Patricia Bosworth's biography of Diane Arbus years ago, I've savored the factoid that Diane carried a large, well-worn brown paper bag as her "purse". I seem to recall there was something about the softness and patina of the thick paper that she liked, as well as the paper bag being a quotidian object. Or maybe that's just what I like about the idea.

So when I happened upon Marie Turnor's "paper bag" leather clutches, I was really tickled:

Marie Turnor Dinner Clutch.

You can reference this look less expensively with a tan Leather Pouch from American Apparel:

American Apparel Leather Pouch.

I am goo-goo for American Apparel's chic'n'cheerful medium and large-sized clutches, available in a vast array of colors. These are my most useful "big night out" bags. I've got three: a dark grape, a deep magenta and a vivid jade, all in the medium size. I can fit glasses, book, lipstick, compact, wallet, phone, and my omnipresent cashmere wrap in one. I don't understand how! Quantum physics, perhaps?

A word of caution, though: it's best to check them out in person at an American Apparel store rather than buying online, because the quality of the leather varies from color to color and from bag to bag.

As we're now moving into the glitzy 80s part of the program, I draw your attention to the Lanvin Happy Bag pictured at the top of this post. I don't have one, but mmmmmmmmmm...a girl can dream. I would wear that yellow python showstopper with literally everything.

Let's have a little more Happy:

Lanvin Happy Bag.

I love the chevron pattern of the quilting on this one -- a different slant on the classic Chanel diamond pattern.

Slightly less debtor's prison-esque are the luxury offerings from Rebecca Minkoff. I have a black quilted and studded Mac Clutch, a generous gift from a dear friend. Here's one similar to mine in Cognac:

Rebecca Minkoff Quilted Mac Clutch.

And speaking of dear and generous friends, I have two others who intuited the very thing that would complete me, handbag-wise: a Louis Vuitton Totally PM tote.

Louis Vuitton Totally PM.

My lovely chums surprised me with it a couple of birthdays ago, and since then it has been my daily companion. The Totally PM is the perfect size for 5-foot-tall me -- it holds all the usual stuff plus bulky sun and optical glasses, and the all-important snacks -- without being too big. Because it's made of coated canvas, it's lightweight. The fact that it zips on top is great for security concerns.

And the quatrefoil LV logo, which dates from 1896, fits right in with my mixties aesthetic. C'est parfait!

My Vuitton tote had its own spotlight recently when it was featured on the beauty blog What's in My Handbag?.

What isn't in Katie's handbag?

Click here to find out what's in my handbag.


  1. I knew I would love what you had to say! I am so flattered that I inspired you! I have been using my coach bag from 1996 for the past 2 weeks I love it but it is rather shabby looking! I am going to check out the city bag it looks perfect! Is it possible to love someone you have never met? I am excited to follow this blog also! Your friend, Rachel

    1. Rachel, there's a "great minds thinking alike" situation going on here re Coach. You'll be jazzed by the options on their site - the "Ramblers" model looks pretty nifty, I think.

      Welcome aboard Mixties...and thanks for the idea for this post!

  2. I've recently acquired the Guerlain Rouge Automatique in Chamade. I love the design and the lip colour is definitely face brightening! On another note, would you be able to write a post of all your favourite shimmery gold eyeshadows? :)

    1. Domestic Goblin - I'm excited to have shared my Chamade lip-love. Your shimmery gold eyeshadows round-up suggestion is a good one. That'll be coming up.

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  4. My wonderful friend surprised me with a birthday was a few days ago, and since then it has become my daily companion. Totally PM is the perfect size for my 5-foot-tall - it holds all the usual stuff plus a large sun and optical glasses, and snacks were very important - without being too big. Because it is made of coated canvas, it is lightweight. The fact that the zipper at the top is great for security issues.

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