Search for the Perfect Handbag

I’m an admitted handbag junkie. I own probably fifty, with ten or so being heirloom bags that I’ll pass on to my daughter. Unfortunately I hate them all. For years I let fashion determine what type of bag I carried and presently I have a closet full of very nice bags that I refuse to use. Now I’m searching for the perfect bag, and so far have been completely stymied.

My wants are simple. No double straps that leave one strap constantly sliding down. No closure other than a zipper that completely closes the bag because I’m over having my stuff fall out when the bag happens to tip over. No satchels or clutches that can only be hand carried, and on that note, no “shoulder bags” that have such a short strap drop that they sit right in my armpit. Ugh. I don’t want a fat, bulky, bag or too much organization. Stiff, structured bags are out, fragile bags are out, as well as bags that are too small or too huge. I can’t justify buying overpriced designer bags that cost as much as I pay for my house every month.

Also, no boring bags. I have them in all colors, the wilder the better. If there are rhinestones or oversize bows or multicolor paint I want it. My kid says I should just have a rodeo clown follow me around and carry all my stuff.

What does that leave? It sounds simple. I want a single strap purse with an adjustable handle that can either be worn as a shoulder bag or cross-body. It has to be large enough to carry all my stuff, unstructured, and with some panache, casual but nice enough to wear to work. So why have I been searching for months? All the decorated bags are satchels, all the crossbody bags are too small or too huge, all the shoulder bags have straps that are too short, or they’re all just boring, boring, boring – or priced exhorbitantly.

I finally found one bag that is ideal except for the material from which its made, and I’ve been negotiating with leather artisans online to copy it for me. That’s been an adventure. One sells her much more elaborate bags for half of what she wants for making mine. Another says she’ll make custom bags, but keeps trying to sell me bags she’s already made that don’t fit the bill or I would have bought one in the first place. A third keeps saying she never got my email with the specs.

I’m about one step away from taking a class and making my own damn bag.

What’s your perfect bag? Do you own it? If so, did you have trouble finding it?

Wendy Clyde

11 thoughts on “Search for the Perfect Handbag

  1. AAR Sandy

    My perfect bag was the Kate Spade messenger bag that came out about 10 years ago. I loved it so much I had it (still have it because you never know when it might come back in style) in four colors.

    I am a huge handbag addict. I don’t even know how many I have, honestly.

    I disagree with you on one point, though. I prefer a double strap bag that allows you to open the bag without removing it from your shoulder.

    I agree with you about I bought an adorable Anya Hindmarch with the cutest print on it. It truly is adorable, but it has handles and has to be carried by hand. So, I never use it, which is a shame really.

    This summer I’ve been recycling some old favorite Coach bags. Still great after all these years.

  2. Audrey

    I use the two bag system that my Mom does. In a bigger bag, or tote, is all th stuff I might need that I don’t really have to carry into the store with me, like mirror, gum, moisturizer, glasses case, book, etc. that I mostly leave in the car. It’s also big enough to throw in a grandbaby’s bottle or jacket or a couple diapers, whatever. Then I have a small bag (which isn’t tiny but will fit into the big bag if necessary) with an adjustable strap that I can make long and put over my head if I need to, with a zippered area on the front for my wallet, and a pocket for my cell, that only has stuff that I need inside a store – wallet, measuring tape, TBB list, pen, small pad, coupons, spare car key. I’ve had a few purses over the years, but don’t have many as I really hate switching stuff over. The two bag system means I have a little more flexibility as one bag doesn’t have to fit all my wants.

  3. Nathalie

    I have one handbag, one backpack and one bag for my gym clothes. All of them are black. When I need to replace them I replace them with a new black bag. Yes, I’m that boring.

  4. Blythe

    I’ve become a Vera Bradley addict. At first I thought they all looked like grandma purses, and then I just couldn’t stop buying them. And tinier purses to go inside them. My main issue with bags is that I am easily bored. I carry a purse for a month or two and then I am sick of it and never want to see it again. So expensive purses just aren’t going to work for me. If you can tolerate a fabric bag, you might like the Vera Bradley On the Go, which is what I currently carry. One adjustable strap, decent size, not that expensive.


  5. Leigh

    Blythe, I just came here to comment on my Vera Bradley Bag. I got one – it is large with six pockets and I can’t say I love it. Oh, it is big, but I never can remember which pocket I put my keys in or my phone, or my wallet and I spend more time hunting then I ever did.

    I purchased it as a work bag, so I could put my lunch bag in it, and makeup bag etc. It is too big or I need to label the pockets.

  6. Blythe

    I don’t have that issue for some reason – but I always put the same things in the same pockets, so I know where they are. I am more annoyed if I buy a purse without enough pockets. My current purse has three interior pockets and one outside zip pocket. Oh, and two very small pockets on either end that are sort of useless. I could do with another one so I’d have a pocket for gum.

  7. LinnieGaylAAR

    Blythe, I like that bag you posted about! Thinking of buying it. I used to only buy leather bags, and had a very nice collection (including some vintage Coach bags). Then started getting bothered by the weight and on a whim about 3 years ago switched to a cloth bag (purchased on Etsy). I loved it, and purchased another from the same seller. Seller has since disappeared so was looking for something else.

    And yes, my first reaction when I saw Vera Bradley bags quite a few years ago was “grandma bags.” Then I saw them being sold in stores next to college campuses, and noticed gobs of college students (females) carrying them, and figured maybe not :)

  8. Bessie

    I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This is ground zero for Vera Bradley bags. They were invented here, the main factory is here and the yearly factory sale draws upwards of 40,000 people. Everyone carries Vera Bradley bags.
    If you don’t like the various prints, they have a microfiber line that is just a bit heavier than the traditional cloth bag.

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