Annie Vihtelic

What’s in the bag, lady?

By - Nov 13th, 2010 04:00 am
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Why do I carry around this many bags on a daily basis? Time to streamline this operation.

Over the years I’ve accumulated all these bags — not purses —  bags. I didn’t realized how out of control I was until the other day when I was on my way to work and I glanced at the passenger seat — there were four big bags piled on top of each other, including my cooler-sized purse in which I carry my essentials – keys, phone, chapstick, Altoids, a mini flashlight, stamps….you know — the stuff I really need!

So what else could I possible need with those other  bags? Well, I have my messenger bag to carry my laptop, notebook and pens. I have my Trader Joes reuseable shopping bag for groceries, but which always ends filled with something like an extra ,more comfortable pair of shoes or a sweater in case the weather turns.

Then I have what I refer to as my “feedbag,” which is just an ugly, oversized sack that I got as a freebie for some promotional event, that I keep a variety of snacks in.

I’m a bag lady, and I’m ready to change.

So what do I really want? Or, a better question: What do I really need? I can’t go out and buy a bag just because I like it — that’s not a good enough reason anymore. What I buy has to work for me, and there are some things I must consider before I hit the stores.

First I need to decide if I’m an “East/West” or “North/South” purse woman. Do you prefer wider, more shallow bags? Then you’re a East/West. If prefer purses that are longer have more depth, you’re a North/South. Personally, I like a shallow purse, because I feel like I’m constantly digging in deeper bags. I like to place things next to each other, rather than on top of each other.

Then there’s the strap. Most women I know at least need to be able to carry a purse on their shoulder. I made the mistake of buying a pretty awesome bag on sale, but I got so caught up in the price that I didn’t try it out. The handle is very small and only goes up to my elbow, so I tend to leave it at home more often than not because I don’t like the vulnerable place it sits.

If you are serious about finding a really great all-purpose bad that is both stylish and sensible, check out MZ Wallace. The New York company does a refined, luxurious, functional bag to perfection. Few stores in the Milwaukee area carry the line – Faye’s in Brookfield and Mequon is the only place I’m aware of that does. Luckily, their website is up-to-date and very easy to navigate.

MZ Wallace bags range in size from your typical carry-around to large (but not monstrous) for women who have more to haul. The bags feature a number of zippered compartments on the inside and outside, so there really is a place for everything. The handles fit easily up to your shoulder and most styles come with a thicker, longer, messenger-type strap for added versatility.

Posh and Practical! Photo courtesy MZ Wallace.

Do I own an MZ Wallace myself? No, not yet. It’s a grown-up looking bag, and I still like things a little on the funky side. But I seem to be getting more practical as I get older — which is a good thing — and I find that hip looking things don’t tend to be as user friendly, or long-lasting for that matter. That’s just the way it goes.

Once you do find the bag that’s right for you, maintenance is key. I see girls and women who carry around photo albums, pets, small appliances … it’s just not necessary. It all comes down to streamlining and trimming the excess.

And I know for a fact that carrying four bags to work everyday is a bit excessive.

*P.S. For my fellow bag ladies: Gilda’s Club of Southeastern Wisconsin is hosting a fundraiser — “Wine, Women & Purses” — this Tuesday to benefit the organization and will also be auctioning off to-die-for designer handbags. Cocktails, good company and chic purses, all for a great cause!

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