Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In The Bag

Photo courtesy Flickr

I first became dimly aware of the art of the handbag during the “dress for success” period of the Seventies. Until then, and for much of the time since, my idea of a purse was a wallet slim enough to tuck into the pocket of my jeans.

At the dawn of my realization that there are people to whom a purse is a major signal, as in that rock and roll song, I window-shopped Coach bags and concluded that it was stupid for me to carry around a three-figure accessory that would be easy to snatch. At the time, that would have been a dim practice.

In the years since, I converted to pedestrian and found that a pocket wallet combined with an under-seat sized rolling backpack is a dynamite combination for foot-powered errands. The rig doesn’t impress anyone, as far as I can tell. To that combination, I add a slash-proof travel purse from the Great Big Hiking Co-op. My skater checked it out a while ago and commented, “I guess they’d have to knock you down, now.” He’s probably right, but it’s relaxing to carry something that I can confidently sling behind my shoulder. The travel purse is as stylish and dashing as carefully configured walking shoes.

I’d been planning to bus to the nearest Original Import Chain to pick up a loud and proud East Indian shopping tote fabricated out of re-purposed rice (or something) bags. That’s still a good idea, I think, but a recent visit to the Seattle Art Museum showing of “Future Fashion” from Japan trumped plastic.

From time to time in the blog I make noises about the significance of light weight, high tech, and small space as factors in design. The combination has a way of revolutionizing an application: Sony’s original Walkman tape recorder unchained music lovers from their living room stereo. I own a dumb phone, but a smart one seems like another good example.

My companion at SAM treated me to a pleated polyester tote bag woven in blue violet crossed by red violet. It self-folds into a narrow strip and cost a ridiculous amount of money for a shopping tote. It’s ridiculously cheap for a killer bag that can also be folded into a hat and is featherweight, high tech, and compact. I could clip it to dowager glasses holders and wear it as a necklace.

Ines de la Fressange cracked the handbag code: the right one makes an outfit look good. My first tour of the street with the new shopper got rave reviews. 


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