I don’t even know how the pink Dior Boston bag appeared on my radar. I was just a suburban tweenager, in the days before bloggers and Instagram, with a local Topshop the epicentre of my fashion universe. I didn’t window shop Bond Street boutiques and wasn’t allowed to watch Sex And The City until well into the noughties, yet somehow I knew when I saw that knock-off monogrammed bowling bag in Borehamwood market, with its white applique flowers and questionable lining and hardware, it had to be mine.
And thus began a love affair with handbags, long outlasting the faux Dior. It was the catalyst for a designer bag obsession - more easily satiated in yesteryear - which was further fuelled by a Louis Vuitton Speedy to mark my 16th birthday. A £350 splurge, it was no bargain, but compared to today’s £745 price tag, it was a wise purchase which I still use today. And that, right there, is the reason I love handbags above everything else. Forget your Birkins for a minute - we all know they’re an investment worth making if you have a spare couple of grand – whatever brand you go for, nothing retains its cultural and financial capital like an iconic bag.
Look at the Saddle renaissance of 2018, or the resurrected Fendi baguette - stalwarts of the fashion scene circa 2000, they came back with a vengeance (and increased price tag) nearly two decades later, rendering original buyers justifiably smug. Sure, ready-to-wear trends roll back round periodically, but nothing gives you value for money, increases in worth, and is so easily brought up to date like a really great bag.
This rule doesn’t just apply to blow-the-budget purchases. Fifteen years ago in Barbados I bought a vintage cigar case adorned with a bamboo handle, to wear for a slew of house parties and bar mitzvahs. When I was stuck for how to accessorise a head-to-toe cream look last London fashion week, out came the converted cigar box - one day of shows and an onslaught of street style photographers later, the bag confirmed its worth. I think it cost less than $20. The same goes for a Nasty Gal mesh evening bag – ten quid in the sale, I wore it with vintage Amanda Wakeley for a wedding last year and it transformed a simply navy slip – plus I’m sure it will make regular appearances for years to come
It's this transformative power that puts bags so high on my fashion priority list. Whether you’re a colour-phobe, nervous to try new trends or don’t have the budget to keep updating your wardrobe, a great handbag solves all of these problems; a designer piece can elevate you and a trend-lead design can bring you bang up to date. People say what you wear says everything about you, but add a vintage Dior handbag to your black jumper and jeans, and I’ve got you sussed.
Fake pink Dior bag notwithstanding (there’s a distasteful exception to every rule), every bag added to my collection since the age of 16 has received equal amounts of love and will continue to for the foreseeable; whether you’re saving for a blow-out or simply looking for a new high street accessory, there’s no end to the value of the handbag. Maybe just avoid Borehamwood market.