Mary Poppins knew it – a bag really is all you need. The staple of any stylish wardrobe, an amazing bag can lift an outfit from dull to dazzling in one swipe of a student overdraft-enhanced debit card.
Now, before you get all cynical on me, I am only a recent convert to the bag dream. I floated around for years carrying a Gap brown leather tote (‘just because it’s useful and it goes with everything…’), Asian fakes, a cloth ‘gap year bag’ and everything in between. At one point, I even had a black handbag and a brown handbag to go with different outfits, breaking the first law of fashion: don’t match all your accessories unless you are the Queen or Margaret Thatcher.
I was vocally scathing of my two best friends, with their bags that cost more than, well, a lot of things. I came back from my gap year with ‘experiences’; they stayed at home and earned enough to buy a shoulder ornament. But the more I looked at their bags, the more I saw how beautiful and, dare I say it, functional, they were. It was undeniable that they gave any outfit a bit of class, a bit of style. Somehow, even leggings and a baggy hoodie become slightly cool, slightly off-duty celebrity, when combined with big sunglasses and a gorgeous bag.
So, ready for ridicule, I announced my intention to buy a nice bag. Not outrageous money, but still a distinct investment. Luckily I had expert advice on hand to point me in the direction of some names that ‘you’d probably like’. It’s always good to find a designer that suits you and I did my research quite thoroughly. Starting on somewhere like netaporter.com gives you an overview of what’s around, then you can Google the designers you like the look of. There are a lot of bag blogs out there, as well as forums where you can ask questions about your would-be-purchases.
I found my nice bag. It leapt out at me: shape, colour, material, quietly ostentatious and classic. The very fact that I liked it set off warning bells in my mind, so I quickly forwarded the link to my much more tasteful friends, who confirmed the unthinkable. I had fallen in love with the right one! A few weeks on my favourites list, where it sat, waiting to be clicked during essay-related Wikipedia searches and Facebook sessions, and I knew it was to be mine. Not one for making such an important purchase on the Internet, I waited until I was in London to abuse my bank balance and bought The Bag in Harvey Nick’s, after playing with it in front of the mirror for a few minutes. And within a few short days, it became a part of my life.
There is something undeniably lovely about having a bag that goes with everything and improves any outfit. Whilst you might argue it’s a waste of money to spend a lot on something that could cost next to nothing on the high street, if you get the right one, you will probably have made a wise investment in terms of wears to the pound. A good, classic bag will last for years and will not date like a Topshop equivalent, which everyone has anyway. And you will join the quietly superior club of people who just know that what you’re carrying is a little bit special.
So if you have one expensive item in your wardrobe, let it be a good bag. It really will have the power to do anything – except, perhaps, to hold your hat stand.