What do you think of when you think of the Queen of England?

What is the image comes into your head?

Her slightly bend frame? Her permanent rictus looking smile? Her classic wave? Or do you, like me, see her in her sensible shoes and clutching tightly onto her Royal handbag? I have often wondered what she carries in there, seeing as though Royalty apparently don’t carry money and she has ladies-in-waiting and all kinds of other minions to cater for her every need. I’d love to have a furkle in Lizzy’s bag. But I digress. The point I am actually trying to make is that to me, the Queen always carries what I consider to be the quintessential handbag. A square, solid, sensible bag designed to clasp firmly in your paw!

Now, I’m as much of a bag woman as the next girl, but have never been a fan of the handbag per se, always preferring a long shoulder strap to facilitate the draping of said bag around my person (and my preferred option is a strap long enough to wear across my body thereby allowing both hands to go about their business unhindered by bag duties). But I don’t know any woman who would dream of going out without her bag. For us girls, bags are an essential part not just of our wardrobe but of who we are. You can tell a fair bit about a woman from her bag… but you can do a full character profile by analyzing the contents of said bag. And right there is one of the most interesting things about women and their bags. Why is it we get so uneasy when someone else delves into the depths of one of our most personal spaces? Early on in our relationship, the photographer learned that only in a case of life or death should he ever delve his masculine arm into the inner sanctum of my bag. Kids are not permitted inside either. I’m sure I’m not alone in that…. please tell me I’m not.

Who remembers the anger in this country when the late Brian Lenihan insisted that “sure everyone partied through the Celtic Tiger years”. We all looked at each other and declared indignantly “I most certainly did not party.” But we know who he was talking about. Yep, he was most definitely referring to the women with more money than sense who paid huge sums of money for the latest designer handbag for which they had to wait months, on a list in Brown Thomas. Can you imagine their excitement when they finally got the phone call to tell them that the latest Gucci bag had arrived with their name on it? No? Well me neither.

If your bag says a lot about who you are, I guess I am generally big and cheap! For casual wear I like a roomy bag, generally an unstructured shape that can mould itself against my hip in a decorous manner. When attempting to look a little more business like I tend favour a satchel type bag, although it should be said that as I buy cheap bags, I probably achieve more of an unsuccessful business like look! Finally I have one or two small bags. These are specifically only ever used when I fly with Ryanair. They have been chosen carefully so that I have quick access to my phone and money while in the airport but which can then be squashed into my cabin bag in order to get past the eagle eyed staff at the boarding gate. Or if its winter they can usually be hidden under ones jacket! Ohh the feeling of power when you know you have duped Ryanair and their SAS type boarding procedures.

I did once spend a lot of money on a bag. It was during my black phase and although I was going to a wedding, I was aware that I was running the risk of looking like a grieving widow. I thought a nice, sophisticated bag would be just the thing. Silver, I thought would be nice and so splashed out about €100 on a sparkly handbag to add a dash of glamour to my look. I actually still think it’s a nice bag but I also still smart at the slagging I got at the wedding from my so called friends, one of whom is a classic handbag connoisseur. They thought my silver bag was hilarious… in fact I think the Queen was ever mentioned, as in “doesn’t the Queen have a handbag like that”. To this day my very expensive silver sits sadly in my wardrobe, like a sad butterfly who only lived for one day.

Maybe it’s time my handbag went out again… and I have just the event for it. Next Thursday, 27th of October, Heavenly Handbags, an auction and sale of pre-loved bags takes place in The Lost Society, Powerhouse Town Centre, Dublin 2. This event is being jointly organised by Boots and The Hospice Foundation and will raise funds for Childrens Hospice Homecare. Along with bags there will be pampering and wine and tasty canapés. Doors open at 6pm and tickets are only €20 from Boots in Grafton Street, Stephens Green SC, Dundrum SC, Swords Pavillion and Donnybrook. Grab a few girl friends and get along… it should be fun and you would be helping a great cause. Oh and if you see a lovely silver handbag give it a wave….and don’t laugh!

Photo by Chris P on Flickr

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Writing and Talking.... on the radio, on the telly and in the papers.

12 thoughts on “HANDBAGS AT DUSK”

  1. A silver handbag! And one that cost €100! What were you thinking of. Never mind – you'll know better the next time. Let's hope that someone gives it a good home. I hope the event is a success and raises lots of money – it's a great cause.

  2. Hi Barbara! Handbags…an intriguing topic. I've never yet found the perfect bag, but I keep searching. My newest has a long strap to hang across my body and it's big enough to hold what I need…which then makes it too heavy. I'm rethinking the “need” part.

  3. Oh dear, I'm more of the “it's an investment” school of thought when it comes to bags. I wont tell you how much I've spent on them (strictly pre-recession!)

    That event sounds like great fun. I could do with a new receptacle for my keys and crumpled hankies 😉

    So who's going? 🙂

  4. I'm in a permanent “black phase”! (That's ok, because I'm a designer). I have an impressive collection of bags of all sorts, none of them designer, but some costing quite a bit. I make bad handbag decisions in emotional crises, the last being when I resigned from my own company (Chesneau bag, way too big). My favourite bag ever was a vintage Mappin & Webb bag (HRH territory for sure) bought at Greenwich market circa 1989. Got the strap replaced by the maker, who by then had a stall in Covent Garden. Accidentally broke a sample bottle of Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum (ah! the sweet smell of the '80s) into it, and all my cheques smelt GORGEOUS for months after. I will admit to lusting sinfully after a Gucci green python bag, but as it cost the same as a 5-year-old used saloon car, ownership remained in the realms of fantasy. Though I always wondered, in the Celtic Tiger years, when I earned good money, how the HELL people could fork out for the stuff I regularly saw swinging from the arms of (younger) women. Debt crisis nothing….

  5. My mom taught me that lesson early in life– never put your hand in someone else's handbag. If I wanted a piece of gum or a pen and started reaching into hers, she'd say crossly, “No, give it to me, I'll get it.” Of course I've always done the same with my kids. And nothing annoys me more than seeing my husband digging around in there messing up my neatly organized compartments. I just changed everything over today to a new handbag, I was ready for a change.

  6. “…a furkle in Lizzie's bag.”…I love that phrase!

    I've never been very territorial about my bag. Then again, I've never had my leniency abused. I don't remember my son ever reaching in uninvited, but he had no problem delving deep if there was something within that he or I needed. Himself wont put a fingernail in my bag, even if I've asked him to! So weird. I have no idea what he thinks he will find there, but he clearly thinks I'm far more exciting/dangerous than I really am.

    Thanks for another great read here!

  7. Nothing makes me move faster, than one of the kids, or hubbie, attempting to enter the inner sanctum of my handbag. Strictly off limits! I admit to owning a couple of lovelies that have their own dustbag for storage!

    But really B….silver sparkle….you!?!!!

  8. thanks everyone… enjoyed all the comments.. I am glad I am not alone in HATING anyone rooting about in my bag..

    No-one mentioned how satisfying handbag shopping is though… not having to worry about size or does my bum look big in this?

  9. The most expensive bag I have was bought for me – it's big, black, goes across the shoulder and I use it practically everyday, as moving the contents would be a bit like moving house- if you get the drift. I seldom find anything inside of it in a hurry – and often look at it dimly when the mobile phone goes off, because I know I will lose the battle:) I am a tragedy, and would hate anyone to search it, because the territory is dangerous. You've been warned!

  10. Not sure what I'm doing here, in a post about handbags (although I do love a nice “man bag”) but I love the line “If your bag says a lot about who you are, I guess I am generally big and cheap!” Great post, Barbara!

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