My handbag “situation”

My handbag addictionproblemfetishmaniapassionhobbycollection.

Kate Moss carrying one of my handbags, the Mulberry Bayswater
Kate Moss carrying one of my handbags, the Mulberry Bayswater


A few days ago, I went to my closet, drawers and cupboards, pulled out all of my seriously fine, painstakingly collected handbags and put them on a bed in the guest room.

Wow they are beautiful. Wow I have good taste.  All dressed up and nowhere to go.

When my DD comes home from her internship in Manhattan I will let her have at them.

As I looked at the pile, I wondered if I should feel shame/guilt for what looks like a year’$ worth college tuition — well not quite, but you get the idea.  But nah, at my age, shame is a waste of time.

Besides, why is it my brother, who is a model railroader, with a lifetime “collection” of trains, track, engines, cabooses, trees, grass, houses, little people, bridges — doesn’t have a fig of guilt about his “hobby,” whereas he told me my handbags were a “problem.”

I couldn’t believe it.  “My handbags are the same thing as your trains,” I said.

His mouth dropped open and then he closed it.

Women’s passions are often seen as frivolous, but men’s passions are smiled upon, tolerated, nursed.  What’s more, men rarely seem to feel guilt over their passions and will spend all amounts of money and time on them. Another bicycle, no problem.  A vintage motorcycle(s), bring it on.  New golf clubs, but of course.

Whereas women do feel guilty or at least, I did.  How could I justify buying another handbag when I already had some, okay, a lot.  My brother never said, “I really shouldn’t buy that engine because I already have ten engines.”  He said, “This one is different and I don’t have one like it.”

I didn’t realize I had  handbag lust until later in life. When I worked in New York “back then” handbags were not an object of desire.  It was in the 80’s when designers realized a logo-ed handbag  and perfumes were the way to a new revenue source:  the woman who couldn’t afford, or fit, into the clothing.  The fashion world made a fetish out of handbags. Think Miuccia Prada with the nylon knapsack.

When you work in Manhattan, you keep your world in your handbag. You leave your apartment early in the morning and come home late at night. All day, your handbag carries your life and your lives.

There was a upscale, ethnic boutique across the street from the ad agency where I worked on lower Fifth.  For some reason, amidst all the fine African masks and rich Moroccan rugs, there was a burgundy colored doctor’s bag crafted from fine Italian leather.  I looked at it. I looked at it again.  I visited it several times. Could I?  No I couldn’t. The price.

I spoke to my art director about it. She said, if you love it, get it.

Wow, that was something my mother said never.

I bought it and I entered of new world of being charmed by myself,  forever chic, winter spring summer fall, dressed up or casual.  I lived with this bag. It was my best friend. It always made me feel good. Women looked at me on the street because of this bag.

I married and had kids, moved to the tropics where it is hard to be chic at 100 degrees F.   I carried a hearty Coach bag filled with bottles, wipes, gummy fish.

Then, kids older, and with the worldwide handbag mania  well on its way, I began to lust seriously. My depression era Mother was severely disapproving and I, a woman in her 40’s, felt it to my core. I looked at handbags in the mags but didn’t buy them.

Then she died.

I bought handbags in revenge. In grief. In joy. In fantasy for a life I would never have. I bought handbags for power, for fashion, for fun.

I joined an online purse forum, discussing for hours with women around the world:  brands, models, stitching, color, leather, weight, linings, straps, buckles, inside pockets, outside pockets, waterproofing, resale, trading, sales, outlets.

I bought each handbag for a new need I discovered. You know how addiction goes. This one for the color. This one for the shape. This one for the style. This one for the leather. This one because it’s big/small.  This one for travel. This one for city. This one for its lightness. This one because it is edgy. This one because it is classic. This one for evening. This one for day. This one for vacation. This one for work.

All these handbags on the bed. (Well, there aren’t that many.)  I look at them as if I just came out of a fever dream and wonder, what was that all about?

Well, everyone has their mania thing.

Until one day I didn’t care anymore. The thought of another bag evoked ennui.  Having all these handbags was exhausting.  It weighed on me. Turns out I’m not an addictive personality.  It was just a “moment.”

Yes, I still like a seriously good handbag.  I can count my collection now on one hand, okay, under two hands: the vintage Gucci messenger, the LV Petit Noe, the edgy Freitag. The black Belen Echandia clutch for those occasions. (Dinners, theatre and funerals.)  The Mulberry Bayswater in the photo above, forever.

This was sort of embarrassing to write, but not , if you kwim.  So…now its your turn.  What is your passion?  Do you feel any guilt about your hobbies?  Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts on men and their passions?  We’re all ears.

xo Liza

P.S.  Shoutout to my talented stylist friend, Flossie, who understands.  And Jackie, you are the best.


Hello my Lovelies! What we really want is to hear what YOU have to say.  The conversation begins when you leave a comment. Please “like” this post (if you liked it) and share it with your friends via the buttons below. Come on, just start clicking those pretty things. And if you haven’t already, enter your email in the box at the right, so you won’t miss a thing.


10 thoughts on “My handbag “situation”

  1. Love this article. You are right about men. My brother just bought a new used car. He wanted a luxury car, regardless of the amount of money he has. He lives in southern CA – why the heck does he need heated seats? Men and their toys, and they don’t feel guilty one bit. And, neither should we.

  2. paper and pastels are my spending passion. Any art supplies, really. Always want to try a different paper, to see how the pastels work on it. And there are hard pastels, medium hard/soft pastels, very soft pastels, pastel pencils, chunky pastels, etc etc. Paper on boards, sanded paper, vegetable based paper, etc. Sure, I don’t “need” these but I love them! Probably a reaction to my mother’s saying, as I was growing up, “don’t waste paper!” Now I sketch and paint and if it doesn’t turn out, I don’t feel guilty about having spent $5 for a large sheet of paper and now am throwing it away. It’s all necessary to practice, and to enjoy the moment. that reminds me….haven’t painted in months! Time to start again, since I’ve now confessed my passion to yunz.

    1. Hi Paula! Art supplies are…sexy! Your comment has me thinking about my other passions: knitting (lots of yarns, baking (a pan for this, a pan for that), reading, (well at least my books are on the Kindle)… Ah life!

  3. Ah, handbags. And shoes. And new clothes. All things I love and have far too many of. Not because I feel guilty, but due to lack of storage space and the need to schlep them all over the world every three years. Nothing perks up a humdrum outfit like a good bag and nice shoes, and nothing ruins a great outfit like the wrong shoes and purse.

  4. I LOVE this! As you know I do love a nice handbag! I long made the decision never to keep anything for best and enjoy carrying each and every one. If I don’t carry a bag for a year then I pass it on. I don’t have a huge collection and don’t lust after bags, but I appreciate the craftsmanship and heritage of some brands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *