July 5, 2007
My mother bequeathed me with many things – a dry wit, appreciation for simple, balanced aesthetics, excessive neatness. One of the more exceptional traits kindly transferred to me was a boundless adoration of fine luggage. She has always found it most important to port her belongings in style, understanding the integral nature of an attractive bag to an ensemble while insisting on a certain degree of utility. Handbags in particular drive us both into a state of transfixion where the only action possible is chatter about particular attributes, be it a cleverly-placed zipper or a surprisingly vibrant lining.
Status has never been the underpinning of my mother's relationship to handbags. She can just as easily fawn over a modestly priced Nine West tote as she can over the iconic Hermès Kelly bag, though I must not give the impression she is indiscriminate. In fact, she exercises the utmost selectivity in her purchases. Never is she subject to fleeting "It" bags, which may elicit transient lust, but certainly not a prolonged amorousness capable of altering one's character. Ultimately, the purse must provide her with both aesthetic and functional pleasure. I can't count how many times she found fault with a bag because a pocket was inconveniently positioned or an insufficient structure caused her carefully arranged possessions to shift. When these frustrations become too unbearable it is time to intensify her search for a new handbag with alternate qualities. Of course, her intrinsic regard for design carries this search well beyond the point of practicality.
Quite a quandary then arises. How is it possible for a stylish fellow to express such accessorial ardor so benignly passed unto him? Unfortunately, the notion of a man carrying an elegant purse has not made it into the realm of social acceptance – at least not yet. Slowly but surely portage of chic handbags is being enveloped by masculinity, even if it is being incited by usefulness. Men are recognizing the utter joy of a handbag so far as it fulfills both need and desire. The process is happening gradually, but smart looking bags for men are valiantly carving out their niche. Bottom line: Men are realizing they need a stylish way to carry their crap.
Some of the most attractive and useful varieties come in the form of a hand-held tote. I find this style preferable to the ubiquitous messenger bag, and most certainly a backpack, for a number of reasons. The appearance of a man carrying a bag in hand conveys a message of control and confidence. Rather than assuming the role of a mule, arduously schlepping a burdensome mess of equipage with the full force of one's body, there is a certain power and authority rising out of employing an able hand to carry a bag. Skeptics may argue that slovenly tossing a sack across their body enables their hands to be free – a liberating condition for which, apparently, no amount of visual attractiveness can compensate. These are most likely the people who have no difficulty exceeding their insurance deductible with frequent visits to the chiropractor due to back pain. Even more important than avoiding debilitating dorsal twinges is the preservation of expensive attire. While one usually foregoes the "convenience" of a shoulder strap, the wear and tear which inevitably occurs upon the shoulders of fine clothing is avoided with a sac à main.
Here are a few worthy options, most of which offer work-to-weekend versatility. Ultimately when searching for a bag, remember it is not what we carry, but how we carry it.
Hamptons Canvas Draft Tote by Coach
Enameling Duck Tote
Comores by Goyard
Pebbled Leather Tote