Resisting can be as much an art as acquiring, especially when it comes to tote bags, which are the craze of fashion shopping. They don’t need a dressing room and strong lighting to seal the deal, they can be colorful and they’re useful.
Until a certain point.
Bins take up a lot of space, especially if you store them properly, with padding to keep their shape. Personally, I aim to keep my “collection” to two. After that, if I ever get a bag for Christmas or a birthday, I apply the “one in, one out” rule.
After the first lockdown, I finally broke away from the daily tote. I ventured out with just a sleek little shoulder bag and one of those foldable cotton bags for life just in case. Much better for your posture.
And then Mabel came into my life. Back to the bins to lug all her bric-a-brac, and sometimes to lug around her. (Where are you supposed to hide a puppy when the overbearing security person tells you to tie it up outside? As if. Haven’t they seen what the stolen puppies are for?)
The bags I own must be perfect: light, sturdy, not stupidly big but roomy enough to hold a laptop, a large cashmere scarf when I travel, and a growing Havanese puppy. They must be properly constructed so that when full, especially with dog, the bottom panel does not sag uncomfortably for the passenger. Ideally they should have a zipper on the top to prevent anything falling out and small rivets on the bottom so they don’t get scratched. The straps should be the correct length to hook onto the handles of a rolling suitcase. I’m less worried about having lots of compartments because it’s more convenient to keep small items in pouches that you can quickly transfer from one bag to another.
Black can be really smart, but a cheery pop of color that goes with everything – green, for example – is also great. Price isn’t always a guide to quality, although anything new in leather under £50 isn’t realistic in the long run.
This Jasper Conran ticks a lot of boxes. But leather isn’t everything. Dior has made incredibly desirable canvas bags. Arket and co have excellent upholstered ones (which can be used as pillows). Paul Smith’s latest collab takes striped nylon to another level. Wipe too, just in case you know who has an aberration.
Five of the best tote bags to buy right now
Canvas, £60, Boden; Jacquard, £295, Kate Spade; Indigo pattern, £299, Maje; Recycled Nylon, £495, Anya Hindmarch; Leather, £725, Blackberry