Privilege Blog

An Object Of Desire: The Perfectly Colored Bag

I’ve been looking for a new bag. When last we spoke the universal language Handbag, I had settled on a small Bottega Veneta cross-body, carried inside a Duluth Pack.

That worked very well for a city walking commute, and workday lunch sprints.

But now I’m in the suburbs, and hence often in the car. Cross-bodies are annoying to pull off and on as you get it and out of cars. The Duluth pack is made for a laptop, not a life. I’ve been using an old Coach bucket bag, sourced serendipitously from the back of my closet. Big enough for most of what I need, easy to throw into the automobile’s back seat, comfortable to carry on the shoulder and occasionally in the hand.

Don’t believe those people who tell you you have to get rid of everything.

However, I’m monobagamous, which means I want to have a relationship with only one life-carrier at a time. Hate all that switching of stuff, important things get lost. And the Coach black, classic though it may be, just isn’t working. Why? Above you see my wardrobe palette. (If I weighted it to reflect the time I spend in  jeans, 80% would be blue, but this approximation is good enough. Right?)

You can see that a black bag is too dark for my purple days. Besides I don’t like a black bag with brown shoes. We old-fashioned sorts like our top half lighter than the lower, I have no idea why. A brown bag might be better, but brown’s just not my favorite color, and it’s hard to find in cool tones.

Which brings us to blue. I’m on the hunt. Here are a few of the bags that have given me pause. The Vanessa, by Chloe, via MyTheresa. Beautiful, 60s style.

But a tad too glitzy for the suburbs. Great for New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, I think How about this one, from a somewhat surprising source? Tiffany’s. And less expensive than you might think.

But I saw it in the store (as I said I’m on the hunt and I take hunts seriously) and it’s actually kind of lightweight. Verging on flimsy. Not good for the monobagamous. So how about this, which is heart-stoppingly beautiful, a limited edition, and priced accordingly, from Marc Jacob’s last collection for Louis Vuitton?

Louis Vuitton

Close. But seriously pricey, and the handle’s stiff and hard to wear on the shoulder. So there’s this, from my friends at Bottega Veneta. Apparently known for by a devoted fan group for unparalleled comfort. Once worn, it begins to drape and hangs and stays on the shoulder very well. Not inexpensive either. Yes, I know that’s an understatement.

But I’ve seen that bag in person, and this particular blue, “Electric,” is very bright. Well-named, oh you masters of intrecciata. Of course, this bag from Kenzo, via net-a-porter, is even brighter. Plus it stares at you.

“Hey there! What are you doing?”

The only bags I could find in the reasonably priced category that were a) blue b) made of materials I endorse (I’ll do leather or non-leather but either has to feel right), c) without logos, were on eBay. Take this one from Coach, for example. Vintage Coach, of course.

Blue Coach Bucket Bag

So classic. Coach, my old friend, repent and return to the fold. All will be forgiven.

Let’s say you were looking for one colored bag, to wear all the time, what would you choose? And why?

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72 Responses

  1. until recently the colored bag i carried every day was a marc by marc jacobs messenger, for it was both interesting and cruelty-free (it’s PVC). when i headed out west to host a baby shower i needed something larger for the plane (and the books and magazines i carry at all times, to be honest) and switched over to a phillip lim for target satchel in black (also non-leather); i liked it so well that i bought a second in berry.

  2. Perhaps too utilitarian for you, but I have this M0851 bag in mushroom and am almost completely Monobagamous (for over a year now) — the Seasonal Colour of this season/year is a subtle Pacific Blue. Very reasonable price point for the quality. The leather is very lightweight and takes on a gorgeous patina. Cross-body works well, but I also like carrying mine by the handle: (Warning: I do find their website annoyingly long to load — it does get there, but slowly!)

  3. After being mugged earlier this month, I am struggling with finding a replacement bag. Since we’re in the “shoulder” season here in the Mid-Atlantic, it’s too early to go with a fun summer bag. And since it snowed two days ago, I still need winter things. I am heading for a straw-ish bag with black accents from my friends at Bosom Buddy Bags.
    One of these:

  4. orange is my color default. that said, i have one orange bag (from tods) and the rest are greys and blacks. i too am monobagous, though i wish i could rotate through my collection.

    the classic coach bag is gorgeous. too bad that the back-office is run by a bunch of disinterested flakes.

  5. I am a Bottega girl. I love the leather and the designs. Like you, I am not inclined to change bags frequently. My first style choice is the traditional veneta in medium. The large is the most popular size but I don’t like bags that big and I need to keep the weight down for comfort. The medium holds all I need as long as I leave the kitchen sink at home. As I have let my hair go gray, I have eliminated all black from my wardrobe and have adopted gray as my black. Currently, I am carrying a dark gray BV. I also have a chene (medium tan) and a bright violet. Both of those colors are great, but my gray is my workhorse.

  6. I just bought the BV veneta in a deep, muted blue which isn’t navy. I don’t like the bright blue version though. The bag will last till 2020 atleast.

    If not, I like coach legacy.

  7. I like Hermes etoupe colour for bags it pretty much goes with everything, the Evelyne is a bag which I loathed but now love.
    The blue LV is stunning, beautiful an understated without andy that LV monogram nonsense!

  8. When you switched away from the aubergine LV tote, it was because it suited suburban life, not city life. So why not go back to it?

    1. I would. Except in a moment of impulse I gave it away about a year ago, to the Broke Socialite:).

  9. The vintage Coach bag is a great size and shape. I have a similar one — but in cognac, which has become my all-season bag right because it looks great against black and also against neutrals.

    I’d share a link but I scored mine — an Italian leather version — at a Goodwill boutique (y’know, one of those “upscale” thrift stores, no really).

  10. I am a bag whore. Which is why I don’t invest in a major expensive bag because in a while, I will see something else that catches my eye (like a crow is attracted to things that glitter) and I’ll be off…
    Right now, I am using a Clare Vivier clutch. She makes some really nice larger bags that aren’t crazy expensive. Maybe worth a look…

  11. For a colored bag, I’d go with blue as well. I also have switched from cross body which I always had in NY (a lot of walking) to a more tote like bag, as I’m a car person now. Are you familiar with Kendall Conrad? She’s a California designer and has a beautiful denim sort of blue in her summer bag collection. They’re very well made and a decent price point. I’ll post a link next.

  12. My coloured bag would be a West Indian blue Italian made off/On the shoulder bag – must confess it’s rather more for summer rather than winer. For winter I wear an Indian yellow clutch. This punctutaes whatever I’m wearing quite nicely. ( Nark/navy/Black on Black tones ).

  13. I wear a lot of teal, purple, and fuschia/magenta pink, along with a heck of a lot of denim – the beauty of the casual workplace. My ideal bag colors are purple and teal, and I’ve had both – a purple Cole Haan that was a little too small for me, and currently I have the Foley + Corinna Mid-City Tote (bought on extreme sale) in Mallard, which is pretty much a teal.

    More importantly, it can be carried like a tote or worn crossbody, and is big enough for my wallet, makeup, books, and current knitting project.

  14. Lisa: I’ve been a Coach girl all my adult life….new… long as it does not have the letter “C” stamped all over it. I’m currently using a black Coach bag (new) that does everything I need it to do. However, my friend has a black Prada bag that she ordered from Paris….I love it…not because it’s Prada, but because the leather is heavenly, the design is current and still very utilitarian. She uses it every day…in summer she switches to a lighter color, but still Prada.
    As for color, I think British tan is so beautiful and goes with anything!

  15. I either go for a blue bag that matches my eyes or a raspberry one that works with my colour palette

  16. I like Lauren Merkin bags. I have a wonderful purpley-burgundy one with fabulous leather. In spring, I tend to switch to a beiges/taupey Longchamps Le Pliage. I also have one of theirs in navy. In summer, I throw all cool-caution to the wind and pull out my vintage Vera Bradley. Don’t judge me you guys, I like this blog, I never claimed I was cool.

  17. Perfect timing. I spent a few minutes considering blue bags just yesterday but it was at the end of a shopping trip and I decided I needed fresher eyes (and happier feet) to make a decision. One of the bags I considered was a Coach tote in a muted periwinkle, but just wasn’t sure I could commit–being monobagamous as well. Anxious to hear what you decide.

  18. I like the shade of blue of that coach bag at the bottom. I’ve become monobagamous. When I moved here I looked for a new bag, bought a few, luckily mid-price bags, which have all been given away. I’ve gone back to using a bag I’ve had for a few years, but is still available and is pretty much my perfect bag, although sinfully expensive: the globe bag by Loro Piana. Mine is a deep muted maroon. They only show black on the website, but I think there are 30 colors. I admit to occasionally thinking about looking into getting another globe in a lighter color since this bag is a little too dark for the long summer season. I might be able to manage changing bags twice a year.

  19. Saddle brown, but that’s just me. I am also monobagamous and look for utilitarian, and nothing that announces itself. Years ago I was shopping and had an epiphany that rounded pouchy bags made me, too, look rounded and pouchy, so now I look for things with a straighter more structured shape. I would vote for the vintage Coach, because after saddle brown a nice denim color would do nicely. Please do post when you have made your choice.

  20. Wondering why so many seem to feel the need to carry a “designer” bag…..I so loathe carrying a purse and, when I’m out with my husband, a slim lipstick in my pocket and my ID in my husband’s billfold works and I’m good to go…When I’m out by myself, I still carry card, cash, ID and lipstick in my pocket and feel so free…I do appreciate the look of a great bag but it’s just my style….anyone with me?

    1. @Janie, That’s how I prefer to run about, if at all possible. But I need a hairbrush, and an iPhone, and I run out of pockets really fast:).

  21. My one colored bag is a purple hobo style by Kate Spade. I bought it because I loved the hue–it is My purple–and so it is practically a neutral for me. And yet, even with that color, I am not one to carry a colored bag all the time. (Once monobagamous, I am now a little promiscuous, thanks to a bag-liner that holds all the stuff I want to transfer.) My go-to bag is a brownish-gray leather shoulder bag by Aunts & Uncles. It echoes my hair colors, so it goes with anything I wear. If that brand had a blue bag, I’d recommend you check them out, though they might be too boho for your style.

  22. oooh for a colored bag… does white count? KIDDING! I always go for red for the pop of color because rarely do i wear color. sometimes yellow!

  23. I too use a bag liner & it’s very easy to swap bags . My summer favorite is a dusty denim blue by Ally Capellino that I’ve had a couple of years . I’ve a new Jerome Dreyfuss in navy which is going to make my choice more difficult & also like Jill Sander minimalism – have a nice deep green one . Hardly ever use black now . I don’t like my bags to be too ‘ recognisable’ , so no BV or obvious logos for me . The Kendall Conrad bags appeal but I don’t think we have a supplier in the UK? I like that Tiffany one .

  24. I just bought a Coach Small Phoebe in a soft rose. I love it. I am monobagimous by season and it goes with all of my spring/summer clothes and it’s a great size and has nicely sized compartments. Isn’t it funny how much joy “the perfect bag” can bring?

  25. My pewter metallic Prada shoulder bag is on its last legs – i keep hoping it will be reissued. It works for all seasons. If not, I’m leaning toward a pale grey bag. I like Chloe’s cashmere grey.

  26. Occasionally I ran into a pea green bowling style bag from car shoe last year. Although I am not monobagamous I have worn it at least 150 times over a year. Wouldn’t have thought that this color is so versatile, but it is obviously perfect for me. The leather is soft and fantastic – italian daino. Another bag I use a lot is taupe colored and from bree. Two different straps allow three ways to carry it. It is made from daino leather, too.
    The LV bag speaks to me, but as I prefer to have various bags I won’t pay that much for one.

  27. I have two colored bags which I love. I am currently using a green Avorio bag which is wonderful and amazing, has pockets and zips etc all over the place, and is large enough for my ipad and/or a book. It has a handle that I can use instead of the strap, if I so desire. Best bag I ever owned.

    The other one is a boxy red suede one from 10,000 Villages. One zipped compartment, but the handles are long enough that I could put it over my shoulder, and short enough that I could carry it by them.

    Couldn’t find a pic of either online. I do need to buy something new… so might do a blog post about bags myself :) I tend to wear lots of color.

  28. I love the Bottega Veneta bag. We have a shop close to our house and I look longingly at their bags. My husband suggested that I should have one, but I have declined. Too expensive of course! I know you will find the perfect bag. The vintage Coach bag is a good choice, but is it very heavy or bulky?

  29. Oh my, the hunt for the perfect bag. “Perfect” seems to mean something different for everyone. At least that’s what I’m telling myself now that after months of searching, I can’t find one anywhere.

    As a monobagamous person, I’d love to find a British tan bag with a hint of structure, big enough to hold a laptop, lunch, and occasionally a pair of shoes for when biking to the office combines with a serious meeting later on; securely closable to keep out prying fingers on the metro, and good enough leather to happily withstand said biking and metroing. Maybe I should just buy a nice men’s briefcase and carry it with pride.

  30. I have a cross body messenger from Il Bisonte from the 1990’s in a beautiful muted red that has made me monobagamous. I mostly wear black, white and navy with jeans, but enjoy an occasional pop of color.

    I really like the blue Coach bag, as it’s logo-less. I also love getting a quality bag at a bargain price.I had a similar Coach bag in the saddle color, but gave it to my daughter after letting my hair go silver.

  31. I’m carrying a beautiful burnt orange Cole Haan, it seems burnt orange would go really well with your blues and purples.

  32. I know I’m biased, but I think the Hermes Evelyne bag in blue jean is a very easy bag to wear. The PM size would offer you plenty of room without being too bulky. And you can wear it with the perforated H facing inside, as that’s how it was originally intended to be worn — so no logo unless desired.

  33. I laughed when I saw your vintage purple Coach bucket bag – I have that exact bag in brown. It’s lurking in my closet somewhere still.

    Right now, I’m carrying its modern cousin, a purple Coach duffle bag. I actually have two of these “legacy” duffle bags: a purple that I carry in winter (it looks smashing with my olive green coat), and a butter yellow that I carry in summer.

    Time to switch over the butter yellow, I think.

  34. I have been using a navy blue Longchamp from Saks for the past year and love it. It’s lightweight, very durable, the perfect shade of blue to go with everything I wear, which is usually jeans. I hate to change purses for different outfits, so I guess navy is my new black!

  35. MZ Wallace bags are my socially acceptable addiction. Gorgeous colors, sturdy structure, travel friendly, many with removable crossbody straps. I won’t tell you how many I have, but my nieces are hoping I’ll discover a new brand so that they can raid the purse vault.

  36. Black purses? Don’t think I’ve had one since college. In the last six years my bags have been:
    – A red one with just the slightest hint of glitter and triangular-shaped hardware. Bought it in a New Delhi boutique. My favorite bag ever. Gave it away in a moment of irrationality and know I will never have anything else like it in my life.
    – A yellow-bordering-on-camel shoulder bag that appears to people as bright yellow in the summer and muted in the winter.
    – A multicolor Fossil crossbody that I used for well over two years exclusively until it was too faded and damaged to continue using. I still have it and store my inline skate hardware in it. :)
    – A ridiculous teal jute bag my friend’s parents gave me in Mumbai. Perfectly out of place in the winter snow but it’s a college town so I can get away with it.
    – A dark blue (not navy) one-strap shoulder bag I got at Ross for the sole purpose of having a bag that zipped on my recent trip back to India, and I just never really stopped using it for something nicer. Is showing signs of wear. Am considering a green bag next due to my newly-red hair.

  37. Lovely color!

    I do use almost all the time a beautiful Spanish leather dark olive bag, the olive goes with almost everything, since it’s my favorite color, looking at it gives me great pleasure and it also matches my eyes and my skin tones…
    It is a color that’s so close to my heart that it did become to me a ‘neutral’.

    I keep saying to myself that I need a black bag as well, but I don’t seem to really want it. I switch the olive one – especially in summer – with a navy blue bag that has the leather treated in a way that makes it age like the jeans – very cool, it compliments well most of the jeans-based outfits.

    Only for dressier occasions – cocktails and evenings out I have a small designer purse in black leather and that works well for the time being as I try to simplify my wardrobe choices.

    So for me navy and olive work excellent as all-year bag colors. If I were to pick a new color I would choose something very bright to make an instant statement – like bright yellow. It would bring crisp contrast to blue jeans and go well with black, which is quite important in my wardrobe.

    Love your blog, Lisa!

  38. Lisa, I’ve been a fan of your blog for some time now. I came to it as I was approaching my 50th birthday and in a funk of despair, at the first time in my life, about my clothing choices. Known for sleek style in my youth (that I’d of course taken for granted) and fearing the cougar label, I felt myself slipping into depressingly generic (if safe and tasteful) anonymity. Your blog, and others to which you have led me, have opened a door, and I can’t thank you enough.

    But I digress. I recently discovered a local (Berkeley) leather shop that makes simple, practical designs right here in the Bay area. It’s reasonably priced, of good quality, and you can choose your preferred hardware (a plus for me as I prefer silver to brass or gold). The styles may be a bit plain for you, but I thought I’d share the website for your readers on a budget who are looking for something nicely made, without logos. I just bought the Tahoe bag and am thrilled with it. For me, it’s the perfect airplane personal item bag (lightweight, roomy, just enough pockets, and pebbled leather so I can stow under the seat in front of me with nary a pang.) Warning: the website underwhelms. But you can order swatches and use your imagination.

    1. My pleasure, I am glad you have met my esteemed and super-nice colleagues:). And I really do need to do a post with these great suggestions. Thank you.

  39. Burgundy. I recently got the Saint Laurent Sac de Jour in Bordeaux and it’s the perfect pop of color for my mainly neutral wardrobe.

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