Purses, Bags & Totes

Every woman has known the challenge of buying just the right purse. It can’t be too big and heavy or the chiropractor is upset. It can’t be too small or it becomes useless. Just like Baby Bears’ chair, bed and porridge it has to be just right.

I am the self-confessed mother of a daughter with a purse fetish. Hilary’s purse collection is the subject of a strange mixture of awe, disbelief and envy. She advises the purse-challenged. She gives purses as gifts. She is a connoisseur who also loves a bargain.

Through a lifetime of using purses I’ve had all kinds. Big ones and little ones, clutches and shoulder bags, expensive ones and cheap ones. I used to be a bit of a snob. If it wasn’t leather I didn’t want it. That’s plain crazy. Who would want to rule out micro-fibres, straw, faux leather, fabric? Or the latest fashion colors and finishes?

Purses and totes are utilitarian, fashion statements that most women can’t do without. The ones with multiple pockets and sections help me organize my life, planner, receipts, ID, keys, business cards, coupons and lipstick. It becomes a portable, mini command centre. In it is a little notebook with the titles of books I have. This keeps me from buying duplicates. Paint and fabric swatches and key measurements of furniture or rooms help keep renovation projects on track. Maintaining a list of replacement ink/roller cartridge numbers for the fax and printer saves time and buying mistakes.
In purses with just one cavernous space everything ends up at the bottom. It ain’t pretty finding anything in one of those. And if you do, it’s probably damaged.

In an effort to lighten the hold on my shoulder, I’ve moved to smaller purses. Because I still need all my stuff I also carry a tote bag. It may never get out of my vehicle but it’s got reading material, cell phone, shoes, makeup bag and any other specifics I may need that particular day. I’ve also got totes dedicated to particular projects– work , art card portfolio, painting portfolio, university course work, day trip to the city.

If I can buy a bag I love on sale, yeehaw. If I can buy a bag while on holiday, great memento. If I can buy used tote bags at a garage sale or second-hand store to transport paintings I feel righteous.
Perhaps the only person who rivals me in my love (and use) of bags and totes is an instructor I had many moons ago at Lakeland College’s summer program in Vermilion. Betty was a calligraphy master and a very generous teacher. She carried a huge selection of paper, quote books, paint and calligraphy supplies in a variety of bags, totes, wheeled cases. The vanity license plate on her van was “Bag Lady.”

The next time you find a purse or tote calling your name, answer the call by buying a new one for your collection. You’ll be glad you did.

Hazel Anaka is hooked on handbags and leather purses as evidenced by her online business http://www.powerofpurses.com. Her weekly column “From Where I Sit” appears online at http://www.voicemagazine.org and in print. Using 16 years of retail experience she’s just opened Heart Works Studio Gallery & Gift Shop near Andrew, AB Canada. Featuring her original art and eclectic giftware, Heart Works also offers workshops in art, writing and personal development.

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