Fashion Jam: A handbag … is never just a bag

At a recent dinner party with my girlfriends we broached a subject that can be quite loaded. No, it wasn’t politics or world peace – it was way too late for that, and far too much alcohol had been consumed. It was the subject of handbags.

Individual preferences
How much a woman (or man) is willing to spend on a handbag is very individual.

One of my friends had hinted to her husband that she wanted a handbag for her birthday and he had  come to the realisation by asking some friends at work  that this could actually set him back thousands of pounds if that’s the direction he chose to go.

She, unlike me, is very sensible though, so I don’t think that’s what she expects, while I’m very lucky to have a husband who fully supports my neverending mission of building the perfect  ‘bag wardrobe’.

Express yourself
Some of you (mostly men) might think a bag is just a bag, but boy are you wrong.

Whether real, fake or (my new favourite) luxury or pre-owned, handbags are an expression of who we are and where we belong in social, economic and fashion terms.

As our most visible accessory, it is both functional and symbolic, conveying to others the tribe to which we belong. A form of self-expression and signal of personal style, handbags are also an entrée to luxury and glamour.

One may not be able to afford a Bentley or a private spa holiday in the Caribbean, but one could, perhaps, feel part of that world with, say, a Louis Vuitton bag.

While many of these designer bags have no visible identification of status – meaning there are often no monograms or logos – status is what they convey. Everyone in the know will know what they are and how much they cost.

Honourable motives
I question my own motives when buying and lusting after a bag. Is it because it’s an ‘it’ bag, is it because I identify with the person I’ve seen wearing it, or is it just simply because I love the look of it?

As I have grown older, I think I can safely say it’s because I just love the look of it. I know that, no matter how much money I have, I would never want Hermes’ Birkin bag (the highest of high in status), simply because it’s not my style.

Choose classic
Naturally you are affected by whoever you see wearing something – for example, all the teenagers walking around in Hellerup with their Stella McCartney bags have totally put me off ever wanting one.

The safe bet when buying a designer handbag is to go classic. Don’t go for the latest trend as it might only last for a season. Classic handbags are forever and when calculated per wear (this is what I do to justify the price) they become quite affordable.

I have a Mulberry Roxanne bag that I got when it first came out about 12 years ago. Just like a good wine, it gets better with age and I know that I will still love her in another 10 years.