“No matter how neat a woman looks, a sloppy, overfilled purse is a dead giveaway.” Helen Valentine & Alice Thompson, Better Than Beauty
I have always lived out of my purse. Working long hours, sometimes two jobs in one day, I had to make sure I had everything on me–bus fare, discman/CD, my uniform(s), my notebook, pens, lunch–because if I didn’t, I was out of luck. I carried big, ugly bags, usually black, basic, utilitarian, covered in pins and patches. I did have one sweet one that I made out a tie and this great houndstooth fabric, but it didn’t hold much, so it didn’t get used very often. A nice handbag was an expense I couldn’t afford and a hassle I didn’t need. I was a modern, liberated woman, I didn’t need no stinkin’ handbag!
About a year ago I decided that, damn, it, I was modern, liberated and worthy of a big bright beautiful statement purse. I went straight to TJ Maxx and bought a cute little fuchsia Betsey Johnson hobo bag for $24. And I instantly felt more confident, like a woman instead of a college bimbo. And I could still fit what I needed in there–my cell phone, iPod, a notebook, a pen, some Dr. Pepper lip gloss, a wallet. (I also have a houndstooth Betsey bag that Ian got me for Christmas, and a big bold leopard print Betsey tote that I use when I travel. First time in my life I’ve had more than one purse in rotation!)
But even that’s too much stuff sometimes!
I have always envied my friend Lexa for a variety of reasons–one, she is pretty and blonde and wildly successful and secondly, she always looks so polished and put together, with this wonderful elegance that only NYC women have. And the last time I saw her, she was carrying a slim envelope clutch purse, and I was so, so jealous. I keep meaning to make one, but I suffer terribly from ProCraftination, the symptoms of which are me buying craft supplies and then never actually doing anything with them.
But I did keep that style tip in mind when I went out for brunch with Rachel, Nina and Tiffany. I took only what I needed to survive–a twenty, my license in case I wanted a Belini, my fan and my Moxie lip gloss, all of which fit neatly into a #10 envelope-sized red leather clutch purse Ian’s mom brought me back from Costa Rica.
How classy a girl looks with a clutch! It draws attention to her lovely hands, makes her look charming and delicate, a bit mysterious. What could she possibly have in that little thing?
In an age where we’re expected to be tied to our smartphones, which have our entire library/record collection/work/social lives stored on them so that at any moment you can be reading a work email while talking to your mother and making arrangements for the babysitter, to go out into the world free of all those things, trusting and living life as it was happening (brunch was lovely!) was a completely liberating experience!