Never too fat to buy a bag

What your purse says about you

Justina Blakeney
February 9, 2006

Fashion is a non-verbal language that speaks loudly, especially here in Italy. So it’s important to try and translate this complex non-verbal language to make sure that when you speak fashion, it sounds as good as you think it looks. As a fashion designer and the lucky daughter of two highly analytical psychologists I often wonder, what does your bag say about you? Here in Italy there is a saying, l’abito non fa il re, his robe doesn’t make him a king.  This wisdom may be true, of course, but the saying doesn’t mention anything about the king’s accessories!

 

Second only to small dogs, the bag is the BIG accessory - the piece that can make or break your outfit - and to all fashionistas, a bag is a window to your soul. There are so many bags to choose from and so many factors to calculate when choosing a bag: size, colour, material, shape, price, brand, quality, ethics and popularity just to name a few.

 

How do you pick the bag that reflects who you are?

 

Cult Purses

 

If you purchase a historical cult piece, take the Hermes Kelly Bag or last year’s Balecianga beauty, what message do you convey to passers-by? First off: MONEY! Cult purses can cost anywhere from five or six hundred Euro into the thousands, that is if you can get your hands on one. Sometimes waiting lists are so long that by the time you get one in the colour you want they are already out of style. Then there is the ethics factor. Is it ethical to spend that kind of money on a purse when (as my mother would say) there are starving children in Ethiopia? Or what about when a bag is made of leather or fur or crocodile? You get the picture.

 

Do you really like the bag, the design, the details, or do you like the status that comes with a bag that Gwenyth Paltrow and Madonna are also wearing? Then there are the stunning bags that come out every season and litter the Corso Venezia’s of the world. Irresistible bags like Fendi’s maxi buckle bag or more banal but ever popular monogrammed minaudiere. These objects of desire tempt ladies of all ages who like to be labelled as people of a certain status.

 

Bags of the San Lorenzo Variety

 

The “Made in Florence” leather bags all made with “high quality leather”, the styles of which haven’t changed since I moved to Florence six years ago. In the U.S. there is something luxurious about wearing one of these so-called artigianale bags from the magical city of Florence that you got for 50 Euro at the San Lorenzo market. But what I know now about these bags is that many are made of poor quality pig leather. While the styles may be classic they are also outdated and many of the people who make the bags are poor Chinese immigrants who live in Prato and are underpaid for their services.

 

The Fakes

 

There is another class of purse that is almost painful for me to write about: the fake Gucci, Prada, Dior phenomenon. I do understand the yearning for an outrageously expensive luxury item that you simply can’t afford, but I’ve got some news for you, fake bags are just tacky (not to mention illegal). The styles that are produced on the black market are the most seen and purchased styles and therefore have already lost their uniqueness. Plus, there are different qualities of fake bags; some are actually very difficult to decipher between the fake and the real and others are well...really obvious. Like the ones that have Praba written all over them. So what does a fake bag say about you? 1.) I couldn’t afford the real thing 2.) I like to conform 3.) I broke the law.

 

Bags that Change with your Mood

 

Then there are bags made by hand that you can find at markets, the vintage bags, or the purses made by innovative, socially conscious Italian brands like Le Gallinelle or A.N.G.E.L.O.. Pieces that are one of a kind and that can reflect your own unrepeatable personality. Feeling happy? How about Furla’s Fiore Turco bag. On the go? The Marc by Marc Jacobs Patchwork Madra Plaid backpack is adorable and not as expensive as one might think. Have a play date? The new designs from Lesportsac are so much fun. So whether it’s big, brown and bulky, or tiny, teal and trendy the bag you wear reflects your own personality. So choose them and wear them well.

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