Monday, February 21, 2011

Shoes versus bags - which side are you on?

Today I introduce you to the world's cutest bag. It's studded. It's black. It weights approximately 10 ounces. While many purses strive to be functional, this one is mostly decorative. The opening is just barely wide enough for a lipstick, my driver's license, and a credit card. And yet my love for this bag borders on obsessive. I stalked for weeks waiting for it to come in, and my hands trembled with delight when I placed my order. It makes me inexplicably, ridiculously happy.

Since I was a little girl, I've had a thing for purses and handbags. Some people stroll through the mall and see shoes beckoning from windows, watches and jewelry glistening in cases, and hear the soft beckoning of this season's pencil skirts and cardigans. I see bags. Bags I'm thinking of buying, bags I already own, bags I can't understand, bags that could double as luggage, bags I couldn't dream of being able to afford. They sit in store windows and swing from the shoulders of shoppers, teasing me with their studs and zippers and tassels and quilting.

From canvas, to crocodile, to butter-soft leather, on and on through my daydreams they march, each more unique and coveted than the last. They haunt me, these bags. I fantasize about the sequined Marc Jacobs clutch I spied in Neiman Marcus back in September. An Urban Outfitters satchel from spring '07 is a frequent player in my fashion daydreams. And don't even get me started on 1994's Lady Dior, which makes my hands clench into ineffectual grabby-grabby fists of want.

Truthfully, as I progressed from little girl to teenager to adult, I never thought I'd stay a bag person. I always thought I'd morph into a shoe person. Shoe people are impetuous and fun and understand that fluctuating waistlines are no match for a jaunty little pair of heels. When nothing else fits, a new pair of shoes will. Shoe people read blogs like Sea of Shoes and Obsessed with Shoes, where they spend hours researching this season's ankle boots. Shoe people travel in packs and will happily spend an entire afternoon in the Saks shoe department. They talk about footwear by name: Mary Jane. Billy. Karolina. They spend afternoons obsessive-compulsively organizing their shoes according to heel height and color. And they speak the language as if they were born into it - vamp, brogues, t-strap, grommet.

Mostly, though, shoe people are willing to sacrifice their comfort and sanity for a gravity-defying pair of heels. I am not. An hour in heels transforms me into a whining cripple. But a bag would never torment me the way a pair of stilettos could. Give me J Crew's sequined, chain-strapped minaudière over a sparkling pair of pumps any day. I'd rather sling Bodkier's aggressively-zippered Howard Street satchel over my shoulder than suffer in black leather platforms. And with the coming of seventies fashion for spring, you'd better believe I'd chose a color-blocked flap bag (such as this little beauty from Marc Jacobs) over a sky-scraping pair platform sandals.

A bag doesn't require a pedicure and endless supply of band-aids. I don't have to consider hem height and hosiery. The weather forecast is of no importance in my choice of what to carry. I can walk to my closet, pick a bag off the shelf, and be done.

And now I ask you: Are you a shoe person, or a bag person? Do we need to be one or the other? And what's your favorite bag?

Forever 21 lace top; James Pearse tank (under top); Seven For All Mankind jeans; Forever 21 necklace; Nordstrom cross necklace; Gap leather bag; Steve Madden flats; Betsey Johnson gold watch

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