Pierce authenticated this vintage (aka, second-hand) Chanel for me and it’s a constant favorite. I love that it’s a deep green color, which is different than your typical black bag.

Bags, Bags, Bags – Are You A Handbag Person?

I received a question from a reader a few months back (sorry it’s taken this long to give you a complete answer!). Asking about handbags and building a handbag collection. The truth is, from a personal POV, I like bags, but I don’t love them. For me often function trumps fashion when it comes to bags. And in fact, If I can go bag-less and shove items in my pocket (or my husband’s – which does not go well, FYI) I absolutely will take that option.

For my personal wardrobe, I tend to gravitate to clutches and evening bags (often vintage or thrift finds) because I feel they add personality and dimension to an outfit. On the everyday bag front, I typically carry one for the season, and it’s often a tote (because it holds oh so much). And then I leave it in my car when I go into places (ugh, probably not good info to share on the internet but, it’s true).

So basically, this is my way of saying – I needed to outsource to an expert to answer this question.

My Handbag Guru – Pierce Morgan

So when this question was posed, I turned to my bag guru, Pierce Morgan for the answers. Pierce is the founder and creative director of Chicologie, a luxury collection curation and restoration business. Pierce is a walking encyclopedia of bags – old and new. He appraises, authenticates, restores, and sources bags for his clients. And one of his signature services is bag fittings – What bag is perfect for you? What bags should you try? Finding new styles, colors, and brands you’ll love. For more information check out Pierce’s website HERE.

Pierce is Taking Over the Blog This Week

Pierce’s Wisdom (in his own words) How to Build A Handbag Collection

Building your own handbag wardrobe is like growing in a little family of companions to carry life’s essentials from the crook of your arm, and can prove to be as overwhelming as it is exciting. Wondering where to start, what to look for, and how to love your collection? It’s easier than it seems. Curating your own collection should be all about you- don’t follow a blueprint. Mix what you have in mind with the tips that speak to you, then hit your favorite shops and have some fun!

1. When it comes to a Handbag Collection – Follow your heart

Allow me to lead with the cliche. If you think you’re a big brown tote kind of person, but a little red satchel makes your heart flutter when you spot it for the first time, don’t rationalize your way out of that immediate attraction to the unusual- lean in.

Buy What You Love

Love at first sight with a piece that’s a little out of character can lead to a new understanding of your style as a whole. Yes, a big brown tote and a little red satchel do have their (major) differences, but even though one blend in and the other stands out, both can complete an outfit while carrying out their functional duties.

Don’t be afraid of a pop of color, or an extra dash of fashionability in your handbag collection. A good clothing wardrobe is full of outfits that make you happy and confident, let your bag wardrobe be full of these feelings too! Trust me, they’ll harmonize. 

I personally feel my fashion sweet spot is all neutrals- especially dark neutrals, and my handbag collection has always been full of the same classic shades. I recently fell in love with a bright cobalt blue bag and dared myself to make it work. The number of times you put on one of your quintessentially-you outfits and feel a little spark of joy when you realize your stand-out bag works with it will surprise you; it definitely surprised me. 

2. Think about need, but don’t forget about want

If you’re lost on what bag styles, purposes, design details you want, start by looking at a section of your wardrobe you’re confident with. If you’re a shoe gal, and you don’t know what bag styles you need, look at your favorite shoes. The ones for work, the ones for a night out. The ones that do both, or the ones that do neither, but were still too gorgeous to leave behind.

Use this to identify what you need your bags to do for you. And use that information to build your handbag collection. Consider a practical work bag, a comfy, everyday bag that can be dressed up or down, something for special events- whatever meshes with the form and function of the parts of your wardrobe you have nailed down. 

I suggest this because the exact opposite worked for me! Always feeling like I didn’t have the right pairs of shoes in my closet, I used the themes in my bag collection to point me in the right direction- and it worked! Try your own version, and let the pieces in your wardrobe you know best point you in the right direction. 

3. Understand what functional means for you

Looking for functionality in a bag typically conjures the same image for everyone; plain, lots of pockets, big and versatile. Stop to think about what you need, and the different ways that can be found in a bag. That’s important to keep in mind with your handbag collection as a whole.

If you like organization, think about organizing the contents of your bag, instead of using your bag to organize its contents. I rarely use the pockets in any of my bags- the contents are pre-organized and all plop right in together. I have 5 various pouches/small leather goods that are pre-sorted by what type of essential I need. Granted, I switch bags almost daily, so this versatility really works for me. Consider organizing your things before putting them in your bag instead of using your bag to organize your things.

Think of the weight of your bag when shopping for a new one. The weight of an empty bag off the shelf in the story may feel familiar or comparable to your current bag but will be exhaustingly heavy once it’s full. Ask a sales associate if you can transfer your belongings when you try it on- the organization tip above will make that easier.

Remember to consider durability. Now, if something happens to your bag, I am just a quick email away with a solution ready to go. However, some things just don’t work. Love dark denim? Avoid light colors for an everyday bag. Will your bag be a workhorse? Look for some sturdy leather. Carry a heavy load? Avoid skinny straps and chains. 

4. Embrace Vintage

Our tastes and personal style are much bigger than whatever our favorite stores or designers have available this season. The perfect bag for you may have been made years ago and is waiting for you to discover it at your local pre-owned shop. My all-time favorite bag is 6 years older than me and went out of production just after I was born.  Vintage (or even just pre-owned) selections can expand your options so much!  If you love designer, but don’t have the budget, pre-owned says otherwise. If you want to save some money, get more for your money, or expand your options,  looking to pre-owned is the way to build your handbag collection. When pre-owned shopping, keep in mind my favorite elements: 

  • Everything already has its first little scratch, so there’s no need to baby it, it’s ready to go! 
  • There’s only one of each thing you see available, so jump on it! Seize the chance to have something nearly one of a kind.
  • Some things are up to 90% off retail! Deals like no other are thrilling, and add some excitement to the piece.
  • With vintage, enjoy all the character that comes with each bag. It’s been around for at least 20 years, it’s been on some adventures. Think about its past and its future with you!

Vintage is a great way to find a unique and affordable option for the bag styles you need, but don’t often use. If you need an event clutch, grab something from a local antique shop! A unique, one-of-a-kind little purse that’ll add excitement to any outfit. If you need an “I don’t want to bring one of my good bags” bag, (think concerts, travel, outdoorsy activities) look for a vintage, glove-tanned leather Coach! I collect them and guarantee you’ll get a strong bag with vintage flair but not too much flash, ready to go whenever you need it.

A HUGE thank you to Pierce for sharing his bag wisdom!

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Outfit Details: Vest  (I’m wearing a small and you won’t believe the price!)// Jeans  (wearing size 27)// Shoes  (run TTS)// 

 

Author

Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.

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