Why is it SO hard to find the perfect handbag? 73



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It was a defining moment: searching for a pair of 3D glasses in a darkened movie theatre in a handbag which had swallowed them up. Why? Because the lining in the recently purchased ‘perfect’ handbag had torn and the offending article was nestled somewhere at the bottom of the bag along with some peppermints. Again I asked myself as Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf discussed weighty matters on ‘The Hobbit’, why is it SO hard to find the perfect handbag?

Long have I searched. If bags were men, then I would be a loose woman having short term relationships with men who appear at first glance to have all that I need to live a perfectly balanced life. Alas, like men, I always find that the bag is not up to scratch and does not meet my modest needs.

Is it too much, I ask, to have a bag that carries everything? I have been told that I carry too much in my bag, but that is not true. I need that sunscreen (in case it is sunny). I need that mozzie spray (in case there are mozzies). I need an umbrella – you guessed it – in case it rains. Then there is the wallet, mobile phone, fan (for post menopause hot flushes), comb, makeup, pills, iPad, loyalty cards, diary, tissues, peppermints, almonds for a snack, bottle of water, cardi, sunhat, car keys, house keys and torch. And a book to read in case I have nothing to do and no one to talk to.

Hmm, maybe that list is too long. But I NEED those things, just in case. In case of what? Maybe it is time to get my priorities straight and leave some of that stuff at home. But I might NEED it, my inner woman snivels. Get over it, says my tough outer woman. Hah.

But, somewhere out there must be the perfect bag. Like the perfect man it complements my every style and mood. It is capacious but not bulky. It has hidden depths and accessible pockets. It is giving and comforting. It holds all of my stuff. It never buckles, rips, or snaps under pressure. It is genuine leather. It is the perfect tan colour (not brown). It goes with everything. I can find my keys in the dark and my mobile phone does not become invisible in there. It is reliable, sturdy, attractive, matches everything and is hopefully a designer label under a hundred dollars. It must not be glitzy or too shiny. It must sit on my shoulder and should have a zip for safety, but no flap. Flaps are annoying. It must sit on my sloping shoulder without sliding off. The strap must adjust to the right length for my hand to slide in and feel my vibrating phone so I can take important calls. It must have a flat bottom so it will not fall over and spill contents when on a flat surface

Alas, in the shop I see it hanging there. Lovingly I try it on for size, search the inner depths for the perfect phone shaped pocket, the zipped compartments, the buttery leather, the lovely designer label, the exorbitant price tag– but look. It must be a blessing from heaven, it is on sale for half price. I can have it. Excitedly I take it home. Sniff the leather, admire the profile in the mirror, fill up the compartments. Why is it bulging? Is that now a pen mark on the lining? Where is my phone? Why can’t I find it? Oh no!

Perhaps one day I will take my possibly unrealistic expectations in hand and design my own perfect bag. I will take the design to a leather craftsman who will make me one. Others will admire it and I will start a business designing and marketing the perfect bag.

Perfection. Bah humbug. We are imperfect mortals in a flawed universe. God alone creates perfection. An old proverb tells us that beauty is never perfect. How dull and placid would be a flawless world if it were a Mattel universe peopled with Barbie and Ken replicas. Stiff, unyielding, emotionless ciphers. Ugh.

Land the plane Karen, land the plane. The perfect handbag? It does not exist. Part of the rich experience of my life, and the continually upgrading of my patience quotient is done with the purchasing and discarding of handbags. Look in the bottom of my wardrobe. There lies a handbag graveyard littered with the discarded corpses of handbag hell. The bad buys from Ebay. The broken handles and zips. The scuffed leather. The imposters that were not leather at all.  Ah, alas.

But still I am quietly optimistic. I look in shop windows, eBay, online and op shops. I quietly covet other people’s handbags and long to discuss their handbag relationship issues with them. However, I do not want them to think that I, a perfect stranger, have a handbag obsession. I don’t, do I?


Do you have a handbag you love? Where did you find it? And what do you carry in it? Tell us below!

Karen Jones

Born in New Zealand, Karen now happily lives in the mid-north coast of New South Wales. She retired early due to ill health and now focuses on her love of walking, writing, reading and spending time with her grandchildren. With a degree in writing, Karen became a blogger and book reviewer for Starts at 60, which has enabled her passions to become enjoyable pastimes. Her recipe for bliss is a well made flat white, a friendly cat and a sea view.

  1. Your not on your own there Karen, I have lots of trouble finding the right bag too. Also have sloping shoulders and they keep falling off. Ugh. Have to make sure the straps aren’t too short or the zip doing up the wrong way and definately no flaps either.

  2. Oh I am totally with you .. Every time I find the perfect bag ,it rejects me !! I need that bag to be an extension of my home but it never quite works like that…so the quest goes on..,

  3. Same. Straps need length, can’t be leather cos too heavy, easy to get purse in and out of, big enough that I can fit a rolled up raincoat or cardigan. Hate flaps. My Hedgren travel bag is perfect but not dressy enough at times.

  4. I have lots of different ones..shapes, sizes,colours, depends on what I’m wearing,or going, or taking with me..I do love a nice handbag.

  5. I’m with Debbie. My travel bag is the best one, but not dressy. I get over this, and the weight, by getting my husband to carry it, which doesn’t look at all odd because – hey – it’s a travel messenger bag.

  6. My husband reckons things go into my bag never to be seen again. I used to be colour coordinated and still have few bags that go with certain shoes but mainly just use a black bag with plenty of pockets and a picture of a dog and cat on

    2 REPLY
    • Mine’s a chamber of horrors. I’m like Marjorie- I have a few I rarely use and a ‘staple’ that’s also a mobile filing cabinet

  7. Oh, Karen, I know exactly where you’re coming from! We have a similar problem: The older I get, the harder it is to find a pair of trews capable of holding all my bits ‘n’ pieces… comfortably!

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