Fashion & Beauty

Don’t call it a pocketbook: A guide to handbags

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A few of my favorite things.

It’s recently come to my attention that I have too much stuff. This slow-burning realization was of course catalyzed by my move across the country, which has forced me to take a hard look at my belongings and truly contemplate the meaning of the word “necessity” in a way I never really had before. (It’s a weird and annoying word that just sounds prissy and precious, in my opinion. Let’s do away with it.)

We’ve all read articles about how to pare down your wardrobe and do more with less. That’s all well and good when it comes to clothing, and it makes sense when your living quarters afford limited room for excess. But one area where I refuse to compromise is in the handbag arena.

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Fendi oyster bag, Paul & Joe Sister tote, Cambridge crossbody.

I get questions all the time (from concerned friends and family, not like, the media or anything) about why I need so many bags. “Don’t you just use the same one every day, anyway?” (This is my dad.) The answer here is a resounding no.

I can be a reasonable person when pushed, but I’m not budging on this. If you’re hauling around a faded, fraying, ancient leather sack with the intention of replacing it only after it releases a final groan of agony and sends your laptop and gum wrappers tumbling to the floor, please just delve deep into the reserves of your compassion and put the damn thing out of its misery.

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Tan clutch: Aimee Kestenberg, mini backpack: Coach, black tote: Botkier, tan/cream tote: vintage Dooney & Bourke.

You need more than one bag. You don’t need 20+, but you do need more than one. Like shoes, bags are designed for different occasions, and there’s no one-size-fits-all fix. The tote you use to lug your computer to work just isn’t appropriate or practical to carry at a wedding, or out on New Year’s Eve. A bag is meant to make a statement and complement your look, and while it serves a functional purpose, it shouldn’t just be something you’re grudgingly dragging around because you need somewhere to stash emergency tampons. That’s sad, and in my opinion, wrong.

Rue La La has done a great job piecing together this [actually informative] guide for handbags with a simple breakdown of classic handbag silhouettes. There’s even a section on authenticating designer bags if you’re inclined to splurge on vintage or consignment. Based on the guide, here are my personal MVPs for building a collection from the ground up:

— a classic, polished tote for work & everyday
— a larger hobo for weekends and the days you’ll need to carry more
— a small clutch or evening bag for more formal occasions

I’m obviously a person with a passion for purses, and I do understand if that’s just not your bag (ha). But there’s nothing that can class up an outfit more quickly than some arm candy. And unlike your favorite pair of jeans, a bag won’t look shittier on you after a weekend of bingeing on beer and pizza.

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Gucci tote, vintage YSL tote.

Happy shopping!

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Fashion & Beauty

Chicago

Millenium Park

My boyfriend and I took our annual summer trip this past weekend, and chose to visit my favorite city. He’d never been before, and I was dying to drag him around and impress him. Beware, this is a long post.

We saw all the sights, and I did so largely in a pair of Bieber pants. I was browsing my favorite consignment shop the day before our trip and came upon these James Perse cargo capri sweats (they’re actually more of a t-shirt type material– not jersey, but old school cotton). They were kind of an inessential purchase (ha) so I decided I needed to make the most of money spent by wearing the hell out of them this trip. Plus, they’re versatile and perfect for pre-fall in the Windy City. Since we were walking around so much, I wore them with sneakers, but they’re great with ankle boots as well.

Millenium Park

Millenium Park

Sunglasses: Marc by Marc Jacobs, Shirt: BDG (Urban Outfitters), Pants: James Perse (consignment), Bag: Gucci (ebay), Shoes: Nike Huarache Women’s Dance Low sneaker.

Navy Pier

City view from the Ferris wheel on Navy Pier.

I didn’t want to bore Chris with too much shopping, so I skipped what’s known as the Magnificent Mile– an expansive downtown stretch of luxury retailers and massive, multi-level stores like Target and Forever 21. Instead, we checked out some of Chicago’s Northside neighborhoods, like Bucktown, a Brooklyn-esque area full of boutiques, consignment, and vintage. I also spent a day with my cousin in Roscoe Village, which ended up being by favorite shopping spot of the weekend. It’s a pretty unassuming neighborhood on first glance, but it was filled with small shops and truly unique finds.

CHICAGO HAUL

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I’m a huge sucker for draped, asymmetrical cuts, so I swiped this jacket/sweater hybrid off the mannequin as soon as I saw it. It’s by Blank NYC, and the back and sides are faux leather. Brown jeans are a surprisingly rare find (in my experience), and I love earth tones for fall and winter, so I also jumped on these burnt sienna coated denim pants by Red Engine. I love the print of this super-soft Monrow sweatshirt, which I feel like I’ll be living in once it gets a little colder out. I got all of this and the gold bracelet with inlaid stones at one store, called the Denim Lounge, which basically bankrupted me for the weekend. They were having an incredible 75% off sale on tons of gorgeous stuff. (I could have done a lot more damage if I’d had a couple of beers with my Murphy’s hotdog, and I kind of wish I did.) The delicate stone and spike necklace was from a store across the street, called Hubba Hubba. The sneakers are by a San Francisco brand called Chrome, which makes super durable, masculine shoes and bags (though they do carry women’s sizes in a handful of designs). Chris and I each got a pair on sale at their store in Bucktown.

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Necklace: Hubba Hubba in Roscoe Village, Bracelet: The Denim Lounge.

I guess the only thing that could rival the shopping in Chicago is the food. (And the architecture. And the limitless number of things to do.) But yeah, eating out usually ranks among the highest on my list.

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The aforementioned Murphy’s hotdog, or “redhot,” whatever that means.

Luckily we were right down town, and were within walking distance of plenty of bars and restaurants. It was a little cooler at night, so I got to break out a couple of warmer pieces.

Silhouette

On this particular night I think we had Chinese at Dee’s in Lincoln Park. Amazing. View from our hotel.
Sweater set: Missoni (consignment).

Dinner

Can we all agree that it’s cool to wear white after Labor Day? Rules are dumb.
Jacket: J. Crew (consignment), Jeans: Maker’s (Loehmann’s), Necklaces: Etsy and Lou Lou, Earrings: Ralph Lauren (Nordstrom Rack).

Coincidentally, our friends Mike and Pearl (of Chandeliers and Ripped Jeans) were in Chicago for the weekend as well. We were lucky enough to catch them one night for a couple of drinks at the Hubbard Inn, a gorgeous, multi-level restaurant bar downtown that had the feel of an old saloon mixed with an artist’s loft. I couldn’t take too many photos because it was so dark, and I didn’t want to disturb everyone with too much flash-photography. But I did get a picture of our lovely and fashionable friends.

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On Pearl: Top: Zara, Necklaces: Etsy and French Connection, Bag: Kate Spade.
On Mike: Shirt: Scotch & Soda, Watch: Kenneth Cole.

On the last day of our trip, we visited the Art Institute for an exhibition on Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity. The show featured works by Impressionist painters like Degas and Manet alongside the actual garments worn by their subjects, housed in glass cases. It was pretty amazing to see them side-by-side. I wish I could illustrate this with pictures, but naturally, photography wasn’t allowed in the exhibition. Suffice it to say, the corsets looked really, alarmingly uncomfortable.

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The modern wing at the Art Institute.

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Courtyard at the Art Institute.
Sweatshirt: Monrow (The Denim Lounge), Pants: James Perse (consignment), Shoes: Chrome, Bag: L.A.M.B. (ideeli).

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And then we were on our way home. Until next time, Chicago.

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