I've never been a handbag gal. I don't pine for Prada or covet Coach. Give me some great shoes any day of the week. But a handbag is necessary and my taste in them has changed over the years.
I have little recollection of my handbag habits prior to having children. I don't know if it is because handbags weren't really important to me or if having children has wiped out my memory. I tend towards the latter. I know that my baby and toddler days required a large handbag that could hold not only my essentials but bottles, snacks, diapers, toys, my husband's wallet, camera, books, wipes and anything else that could be crammed in. Just as we eat what is on our plate and spend what we earn, we generally fill any given handbag to capacity. And the mom transforms into pack horse.
I found it stressful to be afraid to reach into the murky depths of a large handbag. It's embarrassing to empty a bag on a store counter as you seek out a receipt or credit card. I clearly recall when my daughter was two years old and we were shopping for carpet. I set her down and put my bag on the carpet display. While I was comparing colors, she dumped the contents of my handbag onto the floor and I found her climbing on the samples with mini-pads adhered to the bottoms of her feet. The salesman was speechless.
With maturity, I have grown fond of small handbags, those that can only hold what I really need. Plus, I think a giant bag can make your hips look bigger. I generally found that I would replace the bag 2-3 times per year. Never an extravagant purchase, I generally chose something in the $30-$40 range in a neutral like red, leopard or lime. A year ago last October, my husband and I were on a business trip and I spotted this bag in a boutique:
The size was perfect, the pattern and texture interesting, and it would compliment my wardrobe. At a price of $60, I was ready to pass but my husband was in a mood to buy me something. I never want to pass on that opportunity so I graciously accepted the bag. The brand: Maruca Designs, which I had never heard of.
Little did I know that it would be the only handbag I would have in the year I took off shopping! Back in December 2011 when I was evaluating my wardrobe, I looked at the lovely little bag and thought, "You can make it through the year." And it did.
Truly, the bag is showing almost no signs of wear. The zipper is perfect, the fabric in excellent condition, the style-- timeless. Another lesson learned: when chosen carefully, a great bag can last. It's been on the floor of the car, on the beach and on vacation. It's been put through the test of 14 months real usage and passed heroically. And, I would actually save money by not replacing this bag 2 or 3 times.
As my year comes to a close, I know I will want to replace the bag eventually. I visited the Maruca website to see what they are offering now. They stick with tried and true styles and add interesting fabrics. They are all hand-cut and hand-sewn in Boulder, CO. I'm sending them a shout-out because in a year in which I have to embrace what I had, this little bag made it really easy.