Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in handbag (46)

Tuesday
May282019

What I Actually Wore #0152

Serial #: 0152
Date: 19/10/2013
Weather: forecast 26.5°C / 80°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

It was a Saturday evening on quite a warm spring day, and I had a date with a friend to see the 1945 film Brief Encounter in a pop-up outdoor cinema at Federation Square. I had not planned to dress up, but my friend insisted I had to, so I wore a new secondhand dress I had bought on eBay, by Australian brand Witchery.

I have long liked woven ikat fabric, and also watered silk, and this dress combined the two effects prettily. It is a rather shapeless tunic and I wore it with a grosgrain ribbon as a tie-belt as a leather belt felt too heavy for the delicate silk fabric. Although it was still balmy, I took a wool cardigan just in case – another eBay purchase. It has Juliet sleeves – that is puffed in the shoulder and then tight to the wrist – and delicate patterns down the front. (My knitting knowledge is practically non-existent so I don’t know what that technique is called.) I omitted to photograph it on, but you can see the cardigan here.

As I was walking, I needed a pair of comfortable shoes, and I chose this ice-blue pair of wedges and took them on their first outing. I ended up giving them away to a different friend as they were too big for me. Sadly this is another brand that has since closed down.

I still own my other accessories: chalcedony earrings and pendant necklace, the turquoise ring which was a souvenir bought in Barcelona, and the green eelskin bag, which I bought from a thrift store. I was carrying it so much during this time that one of the straps became detached – it’s been languishing in a basket for quite some time, awaiting repair. The dress though, as much as I loved the print, I ended up giving away as I just didn’t like its shape. I do like the summery sorbet of colours in this outfit though.

Items:

Dress: Witchery
Cardigan: Nanette Lepore
Bag: vintage
Shoes: RMK
Necklace: Portobello Lane
Earrings: self-made
Ring: souvenir

Photos: January 2014

Tuesday
May072019

New Bags: Approved!

Two recent-ish vintage finds have been added to my wardrobe: a 1960s snakeskin square-framed bag with a kiss clasp for winter, and a white cane clutch for summer.

The snakeskin bag is by Gold Crest, an old Australian brand about which I can discover nothing. It has quite a few pockets and partitions on the inside, so it is great for organising contents. The white bag has a leather clasp, and is by Laura Ashley – possibly vintage 80s or later.

‘an afternoon bag to wear with city ensembles and slightly dressy outfits’

In A Guide to Elegance (1964), written by French style guru Genevieve Antoine Dariaux, decrees that alligator is only for sports or travel ensembles – I’m not sure what she would think of snakeskin. However, of the bags she approves, the snakeskin bag would certainly fit under the heading of ‘an afternoon bag to wear with city ensembles and slightly dressy outfits’. Renowned Hollywood costumier, Edith Head, says one type of at least three bags should be ‘the ladylike leather bag to wear with suits and tailored dresses’. [From How to Dress For Success by Edith Head and Joe Hyams, 1967]

Dariaux frowns heavily on white accessories, and deems them suitable only for summer in a tropical city; however beige basket-weave for summer is perfectly acceptable: ‘a beige straw handbag, which can be of a rather coarse weave if you spend your summers in the country, or of a finer texture, such as Panama, if you stay in town. … [It] is an indispensable accessory to summery cotton and linen dresses.’

I am going to give myself a Pass.

Monday
Apr292019

Bags for Every Day

In modern life, a small handbag is not very practical for day-to-day activities. It is a sure indicator of a leisure occasion, when only the essentials required: perhaps a lipstick, a purse (or loose money or card at least), tissues, a phone.

When I am at work I always like to go out at lunchtime to run errands, or shop, or merely for some air. I don’t like to lug my large work tote with me, so I always bring a small handbag everyday as well. I make an effort to change them daily to match my outfit.

It’s a challenge sometimes, simply because I am always in a hurry dressing in the mornings. I tend to rely on a small selection of practical bags that are easily accessible because they are in regular rotation.

Here is a small selection of vintage and antique handbags that belong in my collection. All of these are woven from a different material, and they were all found in thrift stores. These are bags that are more special, and less practical for day-to-day use, and they are all indicative of an age when women perhaps did not work, and did not feel compelled to lug around her entire life with her every day. Incidentally, nearly all of these would fit that crucial modern-day item, the phone!

The little hat-shaped bag of straw and velvet trim is a particular favourite. When I bought it, one of the staff in the store, a Frenchwoman, told me the bag was antique, and was a specialty from a particular town in France (stupidly I neglected to ask her for details). I’m not sure of its age, but the looped handle suggests 1930s or earlier. The straw is quite soft to touch, and more intricately woven than one generally sees today.

The other rather singular bag is crocheted from silk, and is likely Edwardian. It’s very finely crocheted, delicate, and in pristine condition, and as with the straw hat, I am scared to use it for fear of ruining its shape! Its style is reminiscent of a reticule, a kind of pouch bag that was carried by women during the Regency period (1795–1820), many of which were home-made. 

And though the 70s jute bag is nowhere near as old, it too is fragile. I did carry this a lot as a summer lunchtime bag, and all that carting about has made some of the strings fray – it is in retirement now.

More sturdy are the mid-century structured bags, one of smoke-grey beads, and the other of raffia in robin’s egg blue (one of my favourite colours).

When I bought it, it was filthy and horrid to touch, but that is another shade of blue I love so I was sold. 

The periwinkle blue nylon crocheted bag is practically indestructible, however. When I bought it, it was filthy and horrid to touch, but that is another shade of blue I love so I was sold. A good soak worked wonders. I also changed the original translucent white plastic handles to vintage bamboo handles – after I found another unworthy handbag in a thrift store and butchered it!

Recently I realised I was very boringly carrying the same red handbag nearly every workday, so I have recently been making much more effort to dip into my large handbag collection daily. It’s madness to collect them and never use them, after all, and it makes dressing much more fun.

Photos: March 2018

Monday
Nov052018

How Now, Brown Cowhide

Many years ago – maybe ten or fifteen – I bought a cowhide bucket handbag from a market in Hong Kong. It was quite an expensive purchase, but I rationalised that it was such a classic leather and style, I would be able to use it forever. Well, it hasn’t been quite forever yet, but I think I have justified my belief by now.

Then last autumn, when I was hunting high and low for a classic tote bag to use for work, I came across a cowhide version on the online sale site, Ozsale, and was instantly struck by how similar it was in looks to my old bucket bag. I don’t remember the name of the label, and there is none inside the bag, but it was a homewares brand that used recycled wood and canvas from vintage French army and postal gear.

My main stipulation – besides being stylish – was that the prospective tote had to be large enough to fit my office shoes, my lunch, iPad and other sundry items I deemed necessary to schlep to and from work every day. I also wanted to be sure that the colour would complement most outfits, without resorting to something boring like – ugh – black.

It’s like those tents in Harry Potter … I can just keep putting things inside without it bursting at the seams.

This tote was enormous – the biggest one in the sale – and looked tough and hard wearing, suitable for Melbourne’s winter weather. It would work for summer too, except that I had already found a large straw bag to use in the warmer months. Even better, I had some credit owing me on the sale site, so I was able to purchase the tote for very little extra.

I’m happy to report after several months use so far, the tote has measured up to my expectations, even exceeded them. It’s like those tents in Harry Potter – deceptively enormous. I can just keep putting things inside without it bursting at the seams. I love that I can slot in even a longish umbrella through the end because the zip hasn’t been sewn down all the way to the ends. So much do I like it I haven’t even swapped over to the straw tote yet even though we are well into spring!

Photo: August 2018

Monday
Oct012018

When the Heart Flutters, Buy

As has been firmly established by now, red is one of my favourite colours. I make a beeline for it whenever I see it, as I did with these two handbags that I bought last year.

The first one I spotted in a thrift store by the beach. (Because what do you do after spending a good part of the day at the beach? Why, fit in a spot of op shopping of course!) How cute! I thought when I saw it, round and twinkling at me from inside a cabinet. How perfectly it would go with this sequin top I am wearing, I thought. Did I need it? Of course not. But it does.

The second little bag is made of silk satin and chiffon, and in addition is studded with rhinestones. I spotted this one unerringly at a vintage fair, and had to wait quite a long time for the stallholder to be free to answer my questions about this mystery bag, for it looked completely unused. She seemed unsure as to the age, and doubtfully offered up an era I cannot recall, but I felt sure that was too recent. “It looks 1930s to me,” I said to her, and she conceded it did, excusing her first answer on the grounds of its pristine condition.

I am not sure exactly what shade of red to call it; it is lighter and orange-tinged, but not orange. I like to refer to the Wikipedia pages on colour for their names and descriptions, but the screen representations are poor. By its description it could be scarlet, or cinnabar, both of which are orange-toned reds.

Of course I did not need this bag either, but its ruffles had made my heart flutter, and the fact that I had nothing in my wardrobe to grace this with mattered not a whit. It is still pristine, for I have not taken it out yet either – it is enough to know that it exists, and it resides in my closet. Sometimes the mere fact of beauty is enough. When the heart flutters, buy.

Photos: March 2018