Privilege Blog

If You Give A Person A New Bag, She’s Probably Going To Need A Hairbrush

We all have watershed moments in which we realize long-held significant relationships serve us no longer.

I’m talking about purses, or, as they say now, bags. I’ve been carrying an aubergine patent-leather, luggage strap-handled number since 2010. As a usually monobagamous sort, i.e. one and only one at a time, I’ve been feeling relationship discord. In sum, totes work perfectly for an auto-dominated suburban life, less so for cities.

Particularly cities in which one walks to work.

I lug my laptop around in a backpack, and that’s not going to change. But I’d been arriving in the office, dumping the backpack, and going to lunch with wallet and cellphone in hand – in actual hand. It was inconvenient. I carried the tote on weekends and out at night, and it was painful. I found myself holding my shoulder up to my ear to keep the straps from falling off and that’s never good for a body.

Enter Christmas. And a set of Christmas presents that evolved in a rapid, logical, but completely frivolous manner. Let me ask you. Is there anyone who speaks English, knows small children, and hasn’t read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie?

It goes like this. If you give a woman a small crossbody bag, let’s say from Bottega Veneta,

she’s going to need a new little wallet.

And if you give her a new little wallet,

she’s going to need a place to store her credit and loyalty cards that no longer fit…

and daggum it if she won’t turn out to need a new small hairbrush too. Mason Pearson, my favorites.

Of course, if the woman happens to write a style blog, you might then have to listen to her deconstruct the brand implications. Yes.

  1. Why Bottega Veneta? The apex of non-logoed luxury, they rely on a leather technique invented 50 years ago, and iconic not-quite-minimalist designs. Besides, somewhere in the early 80s my sister, mother and I all bought almost-matching bags at the Manhattan Bottega Veneta store. Never underestimate the value of nostalgia.
  2. Why Barney’s? Come on, for the audacity alone! Can you imagine Saks or Macy’s branding wallets? I thought not. Do you know what happened when Neiman Marcus tried a Target collaboration? Disaster. Barneys equals retail genius, despite their horror show of an online shopping user interface, and I grin every time I see their imprinted logo on my new blue money holder.
  3. Why Proenza Schouler? Because Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez are adorable? Because I thought I wanted a PS-1 but in real life it was too, um, squishy? Because nobody is going to see this logo but me? Because, in the end, it’s a brand that reflects designers, not a corporation. Although I have nothing against corporations per se, for fashion I prefer actual humans.
  4. Why Mason Pearson? Because they sell at Neiman Marcus and if you happen to be choosing a bag and realize you need a new brush you just might forget to ask how much said brush is going to cost you. Whoops. Because in the end, I care about the function but not the brand of my hair management tools. I owned Mason Pearson in the 80s but that was before everyone else figured out rubber cushion technology. Never overestimate the value of nostalgia either.

But in all seriousness, I can’t believe what a change this has made in my sheer day-to-day getting through life. No more using my neck to hold my bag, no more fumbling and digging through backpack zippers, no more juggling large wallet and phone. The tote will stay on as my suburb bag, but I’m crossbody in the city from now on.

It would be possible, of course, to replicate these logistics with other brands. Deja Pseu, for example, posted recently featuring her Chanel crossbody. I don’t know what she has inside it, but we’ll assume she’s figured out the intricacies.

Another price point strategy might involve this “Custard,” from Hester van Eeghen,

or this Hobo Alessa at Zappos.

or even this Peace Bag, if you’re feeling retro and a tad ornery.

In those cases, you’re going to want a wallet like this, perhaps. How did I not know about Orla Kiely, when I’ve seen her totes everywhere? Mysteries of the universe.Orla Kiely Wallet

I recommend, however, that you keep your wits about you and go to the drugstore for a brush. I may start carrying If You Give A Moose A Muffin on future shopping excursions.



My photos:

Bottega Veneta Crossbody Pillow Bag.
Barneys New York Small Zip Around Wallet.
Proenza Schouler Credit Card Holder.
Mason Pearson Pocket Mix Brush.

Links may generate commissions

73 Responses

  1. I can definitely relate to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, this exact sequence of events would have happened to me too.
    FInding the perfect bag really does make life easier and neck-pain free. I think your choices are brilliant!

  2. Beautiful bag, wallets and card holders. I just did the opposite! I have a great cross body bag that just doesn’t work well for my car life in LA. So for Christmas I got a fantastic tote/structured sack bag, that sits nicely on the passenger seat of my car (open), and I don’t have to untangle myself every time I get in and out.
    My cross body is now more of a travel bag, when I’m going to cities where I walk and want to be hands free and lighter.

  3. “Monobagamous” – I knew there had to be a word to describe my relationship to handbags! I must admit to an attachment to the satchel style, saving my crossbody bag for travel.

    A haircut a few years back prompted the purchase of that exact brush. I never needed to carry a brush when I had long hair worn up.

  4. I have a similar arrangement to compliment my commuter backpack but I go for crossbody bags with more outside pockets/zippers so I can get my farecard or access badge out without displaying cards/cash/etc to enterprising grab/run thieves.

  5. Beautiful choices! I’ve noticed (at my part-time gig) that cross body bags have been huge sellers this season.

    I have the same Mason Pearson boar’s hair brush I’ve been using since 1990, so of course I approve of that selection.

  6. Maybe this is the source of my neck pain!
    I do love a new bag and like you I am a one bag at a time kind of gal…no two timing allowed. The weave of those leather bags by Bottega Venetta is so well executed…my son has one of the wallets and it’s yummy ad soft.
    Your cross body bag looks like it will serve you well.

    Have you read Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs?

  7. Honestly? It would never have occurred to me to shop anywhere BUT a drugstore for a hairbrush.

    That being said, Darling Daughter would love the Peace Bag. And the cute wallet. I may be a Sturdy Gal, but I gave birth to an Artsy Cousin (and DD is nothing if not ornery).

  8. Love your things but disagree on the brush. Have used Mason Pearson for decades and love them. Wouldn’t be without one. The shiny hair is worth the price

  9. I feel like the odd man out here;) I have different bags for different looks. Beautiful vintage (I’m the original owner-Does that make me vintage too?)leather paisley tote to go with my brown wool swing jacket. Great navy bag to go with my blue merino long skirt and jacket – and so on. I’m so wishing my very expense, black leather bag would bite the dust, so I can start shopping for one that does not frustrate me very time I need to get something out of it! Summer is my favorite bag season – I carry a wonderful French looking basket tote thingy – that I bought at the grocery store 16 years ago, for $12.00! How’s that for a great investment piece :)

    1. I’m another odd woman out. I have many bags and change them according to my mood, activities, dress, etc. I have a tote for work which holds my laptop and Ipad.

  10. I’ve got a vintage bag just like that. But, will it hold my glasses? Must get a new wallet, how about my 4 lipsticks, 5 pencils, mirror and touchup that I never touchup. Yes, a new case for all the cards. Yep, a big shopping trip if I convert, a whole revision of pursedom. Oh, you’e got me thinking.

  11. Great choice for a crossbody! BV bags tend to be lightweight due to minimal hardware. I love that you went for color with the wallet and card holder.

    A tote is working for me for weekdays as I drive to work, but weekends and out running errands I love the freedom of the small crossbody. But I have a boy-short haircut, so no need to carry a hairbrush. ;-) If you do though, I recommend the small round foldup one from Sephora.

  12. I am an unabashed bag addict. I have the right bag for every outfit and occasion, and more than a few that have INSPIRED the right outfit and occasion. I abhor the shoulder scrunch, but I can’t really pull off a crossbody either. But I really enjoyed this post!

  13. This post couldn’t be more timely for me. I love the idea of a smaller cross-body bag for when I’m out and about on the weekend with my kids, or days that I don’t need to carry a lunch, laptop, etc to work.

    So, my Christmas story is that my hubby bought me a beauty of a cross-body from Burberry in lovely red leather. BUT it was just too small! I”m 5’10” and more curvy that rack-thin. So, I pondered whether a 45-year-old mother of 2 small kids would luck utterly silly walking around with a tiny cross-body probably better suited to her six-year-old daughter (maybe by the time she’s a tween). So, hubby was well-intentioned but just doesn’t get all the nuances of picking out a bag.

    In the end, I went to the Burberry boutique and bought a bigger, and different style of bag that was also a cross-body capable bag but much bigger (it can actually fit my wallet). I do LOVE that Bottega bag of yours. So understated yet superb quality and style. Congrats!

  14. Know what? I’ve been carrying a little cross-body bag when running errands (cell phone, credit card, lip gloss) and leaving the larger bag in the car. Going out at night I also use something small otherwise it’s too much trouble and I don’t need all that stuff. I can only use a 1-strap shoulder bag because the 2-strap ones fall off my shoulder too. It’s hard to find a full purpose hobo or tote that actually works for me. I would absolutely never carry a bag that wasn’t “real.” No copies, ever, so I apprecite what you’re saying here, Lisa.
    My favorite bag of all time is still the YSL Mombasa that Tom Ford created. A show-stopper, beautiful, practical and wears like iron. Worth every penny that my husband paid. :)’s

  15. Well played! Love the brown and blue together – striking.

    My very favorite new(ish) crossbody is from Cambridge Satchel. I like it for precisely the same reason my sister dislikes it: you actually have to fasten the leather straps. This keeps itchy fingers out of my stuff when I’m out and about in the Big City.

  16. Gorgeous! Have a soft spot for beautiful small leather goods and yum, these are scrumptious! But I might give brush its own case (brocade stash bag in appealing print?) as who wants hair and flakes in the purse?

  17. love your new bag! crossbodies are a must for me too when i’m out and about, and incidentally i just did a post on handbags and keeping things organized :) must be all the new year resoluteness in the air.

  18. I can see this being a recurring theme across blogs: If you give a woman a new haircut, she’s going to need some brighter glasses… If you give a woman a new pair of moto boots, she’s going to need a flippy dress… A cascade of retail possibilities opens up. Whether one is monobagamous or not, one’s bag should inspire delight and self-congratulation (or other-congratulation) for having chosen so well.

  19. I have long lusted after Bottega Veneta bags but can’t bring myself to spend that much. But if I got it as a gift….

  20. Fun! Interesting that as a Canadian who doesn’t head south often, I completely miss the implications of the Barneys wallet.
    You might also be amused (or horrified) to know that I almost never use a brush, certainly never carry one in my bag, so my budget’s not at risk via a Mason Pearson purchase. I use a hair pick only, and I’ve had the same one in my bag for perhaps a decade or two. . . . we uncorrected curlyheads. . .

  21. I agree about your syndrome of bags needing other things. M got me a gorgeous iPad case and of course in typical fashion I now need a brown purse to tote it in “so it all goes together.” Typical. PS please keep making up words!!

  22. Ah yes. I like to call this the Russian doll school of shopping.

    I used to wear a tiny Radley cross-body bag as a junior doctor. It was large enough to carry my Oxford Handbook, plentiful tape, gauze, cannulae, syringes, tourniquets, pen torch and other tools of the trade in case the ward didn’t have what I needed in a hurry, plus phone, lip balm, and multiple pens, and I could clip my bleep to the outside if I was wearing a dress without pockets. (We don’t wear white coats here in the UK, as they were thought to be a hygiene hazard. I demur, but that’s another story). When I “graduated” from being a first-year minion I shed the bag along with some of my insecurities, and I still can’t look at a small cross-body bag in quite the same light.

    That Bottega Veneta would change my mind if anything could, though. It is beautiful.

  23. I gave that very Peace cross body to my son’s girlfriend, though in brown. My husband, bless his heart, gave me a large, heavy red leather Coach tote bag. It was wonderfully perfect as the first bag he ever gave me was a small, red, saddlebag red Coach 35 years ago. Love getting a new bag.

  24. Yeah, those bags are lovely, but where can a person put glasses plus wallet plus phone plus two keyrings plus epi-pen plus little bag for lipstick plus business cards plus writing utensils plus a little notebook plus a couple of rolled up shopping bags? Never mind the iPad. I am also monobagamous and am happy with my second J.P. Ourse Park Avenue. Cross-body, big enough, and comes in about 12 colors.

    1. See what I do is carry the other stuff in my backpack, when I’m working, and then don’t really need it for weekend errands. But the epi-pen, that’s another matter.

  25. Oh, I had thought myself nearly alone in my monobagamous ways! I’ve been serially committed to one at a time of cross-body leather satchels (which must fit my daytimer) for almost 20 years.

    I have a few going-out bags, and even a couple of daytimer-friendly shoulder bag or tote options, but I generally run out of time prior to the total accessorizing stage and and / or am just too frustrated by the inefficiency of losing hands-freedom plus struggling to find all my bits and pieces which come so readily to hand from The One.

    Fortunately, it forgives me these dalliances, as they are ever so brief and far between. Occasions of pristine newness for The One can throw our grotty much-handled objects into stark dog-eared relief, of course necessitating refreshing and upgrading. Enjoy your scrumptious new things!

  26. I like the style of the cross-body bag.

    But the most important question is, what backpack do you carry?

    Where I live, a lot of women carry their laptops in small cases with handles. Not laptop bags, but rather a slim case that has a small handle to hold in one hand. It eliminates the need for a backpack. I live in a very low-crime city though, I don’t know if I’d carry my computer around like that in SF.

    1. A goofy Briggs and Riley. I really want a Hester van Eeghen Felucca Bax, but they are sold out:(

  27. Like the shape of your bag,colour + the top zip,but prefer the leather plain.Am also looking for a new purse but nostalgia makes me colour match them to my bags,it freaks me out if the colours vary!

    No other brush compares to Maison Pearson unless you know better? Hee,hee.Ida

  28. Mason Pearson brushes bring back memories for me . My mum used hers as a weapon if we were naughty , so I’m not really keen on them . For bags , my favorite are Ally Capallino – all English despite the name , minimalist but very stylish & always the most lovely leather . They actually improve with age & there are not many of them around .

  29. Love your new bag. Love the new bag accessories. All lovely. I care very much that things not ordinarily on public view: inside my bag, underthings, dresser drawers, kitchen cabinets .. be beautiful. The last few years, as my shoulders age, I’ve gone from shoulder bag to cross body to handbag to …. just recently acquiring a wristlet. It is making me feel like a college girl and I’m not at all sure about the look. It sure feels good, though. Just one everyday bag for me, too. Another woman of a certain age explained to me how to pare down what we feel we need to carry around. Lots of mini accessories now. I like to coordinate to the bag lining color.

    Loved your holiday outfits, too.

  30. If you give a mom a job, she’s going to need to tote stuff around (laptop, lunch, shoes, gloves, etc).

    If she totes stuff around, she’s going to get a great tote bag or three (winter, summer, spring/fall).

    If she keeps her job, then her family is going to want to go places, usually right after work.

    If she goes places right after work, she’s going to need a little clutch/cross-body to pop out of her tote. (No need to carry that big thing around to all the cool places she goes with her family.)

    If she needs a little clutch/cross-body then she’s going to need a few in a variety of pop colors.

    If she’s going to be switch out her clutches, then she’s going to need a nice steady wallet to carry those little pieces of plastic to pay for all those adventures.

    If she has to pay for adventure time, she’s going to need to go back to work (with tote and clutch).

    If she’s back at work, she’s going to read fashion blogs during lunch.

    If she reads a fashion blog styled after Give a Mouse…. and it’s about BAGS (!!!!), she’s going to smile all day long.

  31. Lovely bag and a good decision for us walkers. I carry a square black cross body for autumn/winter and a cobalt blue one for later spring/summer (bibagamous?). It took me ages to latch on to the trend and now there’s no going back: you can carry an additional shopping/grocery bag and still keep yourself steady on the bus/tram with the other hand. Looking cool, of course.

    Highly interesting deconstruction! I love the point about designers still being designers so you don’t run around advertising worldwide corporations.

  32. Loved this post and all the witty comments. Moose a Muffin as my son used to call it was one of his faves as a child…

    I belong to the open tote on the car seat crowd but have an ancient prada cross body that weighs nothing and has seen loyal service while travelling for so long that it looks positively grotty even after cleaning.

    The BV appeals to me but since dear hubby gave me a wallet the size of a clutch bag for Christmas I find myself going the other direction. It’s Dior and I love the colour which is in the same family as your lovely new acquisition. I’ve done the extremely small wallet thing but I’m going to give the big wallet a try. After polling my friends some say they just take the wallet if they have a big zip around and just forget the purse.

  33. I have a Bottega Veneta story. i have a very nice bag that cost around $350. My husband bought it for me one day when we were out shopping. It was in a card/stationery shop of all places. It was an impulse buy, but I loved it. It’s dangerous when out shopping with my husband because if I say I like something, he buys it. Not always a good thing.

    At any rate, a number of people (strangers and others) have stopped me and said that they love my Bottega Veneta bag because my bag looks a lot like this one:

    Now, I have just a teeny case of the “I wants” for a real Bottega Veneta bag, but would never spend anywhere close to $1,700 for a bag. By the way, have I mentioned that I have taken my $350 bag for repairs twice now? It’s lovely, but has some issues from time to time.

    Meanwhile, I have a very trusty Cole Haan bag (black pebbled leather) which has held up for years! I’m carrying it today and it looks brand new. A brown Cole Haan bag (woven leather) bit the dust after just a season. It looked old and worn so quickly.

  34. I have a closet shelf full of lovely bags that I used as a single person, that I can’t get myself to get rid of. Even though I’ve switched to a lovely B. Makowsky pebble-leather “mom bag”, which is so practical but still looks nice that I did an entire blog post on it.

    But the best practical “surprise” was a brown Kate Spade “business card holder” my sister got me for Christmas one year. I suspect that she got it on Ebay from someone’s sample sale raid, as there is an “S” marked inside.

    The cool part? It has a keychain ring attached by a leather strap, which is where all my loyalty cards live, as I have made this item my actual wallet.

    BTW, the leather “basket weave” texture like your gorgeous new purse has, I have discovered, has an additional benefit. In college, I was at a party when the house caught on fire. I got out, but left my purse and coat inside. When the fire department let us back inside to get out things, my coat was “gone”. The purse, thought destroyed on the outside, completely protected ALL of the contents!

  35. I think I need to check out this book. I’ve never heard of it and have several nieces and nephews.

    And I can totally relate to this scenario. I down-sized to a smaller cross body purse, then had to buy a smaller wallet. Today in fact! I had to look forever to find a smaller wallet that would also fit all my cards. I almost had to buy two things like you did, but then found something that I think is just right. I just loaded my stuff in it today, and so far so good…

  36. Check to see if the color of thread matching the color of the bag.

    Ostrich leather, calf leather, and crocodile leather are all
    commonly used in Italian leather handbags. Fendi and Prada are at the higher end of the designer scale.

  37. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing your awesome collection.All these are beautiful and fabulous,nice and smart.I’m confused which one I buy!!! Would you give me a suggestion, please??

    (My favourite colour is blue,Want to put my laptop in the bag because I’ve to carry every day to my office) Any advice or decision?


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