insight is all in the handbag

In last week’s Sunday Time the always brilliant India Knight used her column (paywall, sorry) to talk about handbags, a subject I find fascinating.  Not in the gotta-have-the-latest-It-Bag way, more as a one stop insight into women’s lives.

Women generally love handbags – and with good reason.  You’re never too fat or too old for a handbag and they don’t date that badly either.  For an instant retail pick-me-up they also have the added benefit of being vaguely practical and, thus, justifiable.

I’ve met seemingly disorganised women with perfectly compartmentalised handbags and perfectly groomed girls with a handbag full of used tissues and broken biros.  There are the women who hanker after a designer bag (and take it everywhere with them) and the women who seem to have a different bag every time you see them.  In fact I blogged a year ago about the lifestyle tribes you’re supposed to be able to attribute to different handbag owners.

I’ve never quite understood the women who manage with a really tiny handbag (where do they put their mobile, keys and purse?) and am equally perplexed by women who take their handbag down to the stables – they can’t possibly need their makeup bag there and surely there’s going to be an unpleasant whiff of horse in the office the next day?

Actually seeing the inside of someone’s handbag is a Big Deal – I can only think of a handful of women I know who would be happy for me to rummage in their bag.  It’s a bit of a security blanket, not only in terms of having all your Stuff with you and therefore being Prepared For Anything, but also as a passport to fitting in.  As India writes, you can rock up at a very posh do looking like something the cat dragged in, but if your bag fits, you’re in.  Likewise, I’ve debranded my pricy (but bought at massive fag-end-of-the-sales discount) handbag as I figured although its size and shape were ideal for the job, turning up with a higher end bag at depth interviews with rabbit owners or people who recently spent less than £100 on a new bed wouldn’t do me any favours.

Being officially desk-less I tend to lug about even more stuff these days (my desk was first call for plasters, painkillers, mobile chargers and so on) and as hot desking and freelancing increases it seems to me that inevitably women’s handbags are going to start getting heavier again.  It really doesn’t matter that technology is getting smaller and lighter, umbrellas, purses, makeup bags and bottles of water aren’t exactly shrinking at the same time.

If I had a Mary Poppins carpet bag I’d stick a complete overnight bag, laptop and charger and all my work files in it, but in the real world I honestly think we’re soon going to see the advent of handbags with wheels for when lugging them around just gets too painful.  Oh, wait, someone has already got there.

2 thoughts on “insight is all in the handbag

  1. Great blog post!

    I do think handbags are very revealing of their owner’s personalities and their contents tell how they are feeling about themselves at the time.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention insight is all in the handbag « (almost) always thinking -- Topsy.com

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