The Curse of the Purse

Yes, today we’re going to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart – pocketbooks. Call them what you will – pocketbooks, purses, bags – I love them all.

My mother was and still is a pocketbook addict. You’ve never seen anything like it. If I were to walk upstairs and open her closet, 6 purses, new and in their store bags, will fall out from the top of the closet. She buys them and stashes them in various places so that my dad won’t know what she’s bought. Cheap purses, expensive purses… it doesn’t matter. Maria loves her purses. Sometimes she shops throughout the week, and leaves the purses in the trunk of her car, and only brings them in the house when she knows my dad will be out for awhile. QVC purses, Marshalls purses, Coach purses, Dooney purses… growing up with Maria as a mother was like growing up in purse wonderland.

Last year we had a yardsale. My mom toted out a big brown box, from the attic, full of purses. There must have been at least 40 of them, brand new… still stuffed with paper fresh from the store… 99% of which still had their tags on them. My dad has often asked my mother why she feels the need to own all of these pocketbooks, many of which she never EVER bothers to use.

Here’s the sick part. She sees a purse in a store. She likes the purse a little bit. She may want to own it, or maybe not. But one things for damn sure – she doesn’t want anyone ELSE to own that purse. And so, there are now probably about 150 purses populating my mothers bedroom someplace or another.

So, you really can’t blame me for turning out like this.

I love a purse. I see a pocketbook and I see possibilities, destinations, jobs, people and adventures. A small straw Coach clutch? I’m wearing to the captains dinner on my next cruise. A sleek black tote? I’m a lawyer in a charcoal gray suit en route to trial. You get my drift. Purses to me are like a little bit of fantasy that I can purchase and keep at my side at all times. Who knows what I can accomplish with a Bcbg faux crock baguette in my grips!

Now lets get excited about some new bags! I’m excited, are you? I hope so. Journey with me!

First, lets talk about the basic bags that we all need in our closet. These are classic shapes and colors that are seasonless – timeless!

This black hobo, from Bcbg, in a buttery black leather can go from work to cocktails, and from January to June. Its generally unadorned, so you don’t have to worry about it going out of style.

I’m an experienced bag lady. I’ve owned many bags from many different brands, and I have to tell you: no bag is as comfortable on the shoulder as a Coach. I have a very similar bag to this tan coach shoulder bag (modeled by Stella’s cousin) and it has come along with me on many vacations because I don’t even notice it on my shoulder. I’m not sure how they do it, but Coach bags evenly distribute the weight, with proportion to the shoulder strap, and despite how much crap you cram into the bag, it just will not cause you shoulder, neck or back pain. I promise. Invest in a Coach. You will never be sorry.

A classic shape that every working woman should own is the tote. Its great for all of your regular purse paraphernalia, but it can also accommodate papers, folders, books, your lunch, etc.

Here is a great tote, by Michael Kors, that I spotted in Marshalls East Islip today. It looks professional, and the leather is soft and supple. The gold hardware makes it look rich, I think. If I would have had a spare 219.99 I would own it right now.

There’s nothing I hate more than seeing a woman at a wedding all dressed up – she has the perfect dress, shoes, jewelry… and she’s wearing her big, old, every day pocketbook. Why? Clutches should be a staple in everyone’s wardrobe! They’re sleek and they complete the outfit. Trust me, you can leave your date book, 4 pens and 6 chapsticks at home that night. Wear the clutch. I beg you. Don’t be the person I turn to Kristy to make fun of at the next wedding because your bag makes you look like a schlep.

Here are three of my go-to clutch bags. The animal print clutch, from Marshalls, was 7.99! A score! The blue clutch, from Loft, is a great color for the summer. The black clutch, which I wear often, I stole from my mom’s closet. Go Maria!

If you’re going to invest in one clutch, make it a basic black. This one, from Nine West, is a great day to evening bag because it is patent leather. It keeps it from looking too formal, like a satin bag might look.

Love this clutch, from Cole Haan, for a summer wedding or party.

Now, we’d all love to own a little Louis, but we can’t all afford a little Louis. Per a special reader suggestion, this pouch (which is actually a makeup case) makes a great evening clutch – and its large enough so that maybe you CAN tote one or two of those pens along, if need be.

Many a time I’ve had plans to go out at night to someplace non-formal, like a bar, and choosing the right bag has become a quandary. Well, I certainly don’t want to wear a clutch that I’m going to have to hold onto all night. I also don’t want to have to tote around a big shoulder bag. This is why we all must invest in one or two “going out at night” bags.

Ok, so many people swear by the cross-body purse. Personally, I hate them. HATE. I think when people wear them they look like lost tourists. I don’t care if its a Coach or a LV, I just think they look dumb. Like, a half of a step up from a fanny pack in my book. However, I found this cross-body bag, from Lucky Brand, and I think I could accept it. It makes me feel a little like Maid Marian, and I bet people will wonder if I have money in my pouch or gold coins and loose rubies.

Ah, the wristlet. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – you have to have one. They’re great at a bar; they’re great on vacation; they can even stand-in for a clutch in a pinch. If you’re going to purchase one, buy it in a neutral color like tan or black. This one, from Coach, is classic pebbled leather.

This bag, from Calvin Klein, is aptly named “The Date Bag.” Its big enough to carry your necessities for the night, but not so bag that people will assume you have a cantaloupe in your bag.

This shoulder bag, from the Sak, comes in variety of cute colors. If you wear all black when you go out, like I do, b/c it makes you feel slimmer, a nice pop of metallic color would be a great accent.

Sometimes you want a neutral bag that you can wear with 78 different outfits.

But sometimes you just want to make a statement.

You want a bag that no one else has, but everyone else wants when they spy it on your shoulder.

Yes, the statement bag. We all need one. I might need 4.

How absolutely stunning is this yellow bag from Juicy Couture? Yes, Juicy. The brand that writes their name across the ass of many 18 year olds. Wow, this bag just looks rich. People will envy you when you wear this. I will envy you when you wear this.

This bag, which is a classic shape from Cole Haan, becomes a standout piece when constructed in bright white leather with navy trim.

If I saw you wearing this python purse, from Michael Kors, I’d assume it was chock full of $100 bills. How sleek would this look with a black suit and yellow pointy heels? LOVE it.

Here’s a soft leather bright pink purse that I found at Marshalls today. I imagine you wearing it with dark, soft, wide leg jeans, a white tank and flat brown sandals. You have on thin, silver hoop earrings and this purse… and you look stunning.

This casual leopard print bag, also at Marshalls (I wonder if they were scared that I was there taking photos of purses today?) is only 12.99!! GO BUY IT.

A comfortable hobo shape… and a eye catching metallic color. Its so pretty, its almost a neutral.

This denim and red tote, from Dooney and Bourke, just screams “put papers and folders in me and carry me to work.”

I’ve been known to sport a straw bag now and again. When I was in 5th grade I had this great straw bowling bag (not for bowling, obviously, just shaped like one) and I LOVED this bag. I wore it until the handles frayed and fell off.
There are some great “adult” versions of the straw bag. This one, from Michael Kors, is dressy enough to wear to work, but casual enough to wear to dinner on Ocean Beach.
Cutesy? Maybe. Sometimes you can get a way with reliving your childhood a little bit. In the summer at least. This bag, from Brighton, lets your inner child shine through.
I know that there must be a bag that you dream of. A bag that you think you could never possibly obtain. Maybe its too expensive… maybe its too impractical… maybe you think fate is meant to keep you apart forever. I beg you – give in to this impulse for once in your life! Just once though – I’m not telling you to blow the mortgage payment on a purse. But owning one status-y bag will warm your heart everytime you look at it – and I promise you’ll walk a little taller everytime you wear it, because people notice. Trust me. They do.
Here’s my baby Louis. I bought Louis when I was 24 and didn’t have to worry about things like mortgage payments or medical bills. I happily plunked down $480 for this little guy. I remember that my mother told me, “don’t tell your father how much that was! He’ll want to start charging you rent!” Well, why would I have told him, first of all? I did slightly regret the purchase for a short time afterwards… it was twice what I paid for my monthly car payment, but now, years later, I’m glad I made the purchase when I was young and naive. I would never buy it now, however, if I did, the same bag now costs $665!!! Talk about wise investments!
I, personally, cannot imagine owning a Chanel bag. But I’d love to try. I’d definitely choose one in the classic quited style if someone was planning on giving me a free one.

Aw, how cute is this little bugger, from Burberry?

LOVE this Gucci bag. Must own this Gucci bag one day.

All this purse talk has made me hungry, and if there’s something that I love almost as much as I love purses its CHEESE.

So, I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite (and easiest!) appetizers to make… The Brie en Croute, which in French means “Little purse full of cheese.”

Ok, it doesn’t, but if you think about it, it is like a purse full of cheese.

It sounds so fancy – and it looks just stunning on a platter – and it is the easiest thing to make. I make it often for parties or for bookclub, and there is rarely any left on the plate.

What you need: 1 sheet of defrosted puff pastry, 1 whole brie, seedless raspberry preserves

On a floured board with a floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry so that it is about 1/8 inch thick. Meanwhile, cut the rind off of the bottom and all around the “sides” of a wheel of brie. I leave the rind on one side of the brie. On the pastry, place about two tablespoons of the raspberry preserves. Top this area w/the brie, cheese side down, so that the part with the rind still on is facing you. Fold over the puff pastry so that it is completely sealed. Flip over. Brush the top with an egg wash, and bake, on parchement paper in a 375 degree oven until it is puffy and golden. Sometimes before I bake it I like to take the extra dough and make a little design depending on the party theme – sometimes a flower, sometimes grapes, etc.

This photo is NOT of one of my creations, however, it looks a lot like it and I could not find a close up photo of mine.

Here you can see my Brie en crout in action at bookclub, on the platter with grapes and berries in the center of the table. Try this recipe! I promise you – people will gobble it up.

Now if only we could all get together for a day of shopping and then a wine and cheese party afterwards…

4 thoughts on “The Curse of the Purse

  1. jennifer

    Wow… purses! soo soooo tempting. I am the opposite of your mom in that I loooooooove looking at purses but I obsess over each purchase before making one and usually rotate between a few favorites. I'm also extremely picky.

    There are definitely a few on this post that I really like!!! crap.


  2. jennifer

    bcbg hobo (but would prefer it in white), cole haan clutch, white cole haan (apparently I like cole haan, who knew?) and the speedy are my favs

    luckily for my wallet I own one of these 4 🙂


  3. Lady Hill

    I am drooling right now. My mother was very much like your mother, which in turn has made ME very much like your mother.
    I don't care if a purse is cheap, or expensive if I like it, I have to have it. I also can't stand the thought of someone else getting a bag that I “might” want so I carry it around the store with me the whole time I'm there and then either buy it or hide it. It's horrible.

    There is a Dooney bag that I am drooling over but I'm hoping to wait till September so I can buy it in person instead of online. It's a Disney exclusive.


  4. KarenM9508

    I love love love this blog! A cute bag completes every outfit whether it be the running errands bag or fancy party. A cute bag is key!
    I couldn't agree with you more about wristlets! Everyone MUST own at least one. I especially love them on vacation.

    I'm so happy you posted about the small Louis! I love whipping it out to go to dinner and drinks with my husband and even for a girls night! It's big enough to hold my keys, phone, credit cards and even some makeup!



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