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The Perfect Purse is a Delight to Find | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Perfect Purse is a Delight to Find

No, I don’t own this purse. But it’s a beauty, isn’t it? It’s the Florentine Toggle crossbody bag by Dooney & Bourke in Natural. You can find it at Nordstrom, along with a lot of other great purses. It also comes in black. I like it. This is a purse I could really fall in love with, use and abuse until we are both old and battered, and still really love.

See, this is what I personally adore in purses. I like something simple, but with good detailing and made of quality materials. I love a good crossbody, because my shoulders are narrow and sloping and I like to have my hands free to use. I like something big enough to carry some serious stuff without being so large it gets in my way.

In fact, my current favorite daytime purse looks a tiny bit like this. It’s actually a mustard-yellow leather, and it doesn’t feature the cool flap and toggle closure this one does. It just zips closed along the top. But it’s a good size, has pockets inside and out, closes securely, and sits perfectly on my left hip when I slip that strap over my head. I plan to carry that sucker until either it dies or I do. I’m like that with purses. I use them hard until they die in harness. Therefore, it behooves me whenever possible to get the best possible purse I can manage.

But everyone has a different idea of what makes the perfect purse. For everyone nodding happily at the concept of simple, capacious, and sturdy… there’s someone out there who’s dream is a tiny clutch with a rhinestone handle. For everyone who couldn’t imagine ever buying any purse that wasn’t a snake or lizard leather, there’s someone like me who would rather juggle all her possessions in her bare hands than do snake.

So I’m curious: what is your perfect daytime purse? Large or small? Leather or denim? Simple or outrageously ornate? There is no right or wrong answer to this. There’s only what speaks to you.

16 Responses to “The Perfect Purse is a Delight to Find”

  1. Lora January 15, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    Three years ago I found a large Dooney & Burke leather tote from the 1980’s, in perfect condition, at a consignment store. It’s croc imprinted leather with a great closure and put-lenty of room for what I consider to be necessary to start with and almost anything I encounter during the course of a day that must also come along. I only paid $40 for it, but if it ever wears out, I know D&B still makes a similar one and I’d pay full price to do it all again.

  2. Madea January 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    My ideal purse would be medium size, a vintage kelly-type in shiny black lizard with silver fixtures. Big enough for my wallet, a paperback, and incidentals without being too big to tote around easily.

  3. TropicalChrome January 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    Largish – I have a number of larger items (like my prescription sunglasses in a hard case) that I must carry with me, and that many of today’s purses just won’t fit. Sturdy leather because I am hard on purses and nothing else holds up long enough to be worth the trouble of moving my stuff. A secure closure – no single snap, I don’t care how strong those magnets purport to be, they aren’t. They pop open. Stuff in the center comes out. I lost a pair of glasses that way. So I require a zipper.

    I require at least one external pocket for my keys and car remote, and prefer several. I prefer multiple sections internally, but have learned to make do without. I need an internal pocket for my cell phone because it cost more than I’m willing to spend on a purse and external pockets do not provide enough protection.

    Yes, I’m picky. When I’m coming up on needing a new purse, I have to plan for some time to shop because I can’t just pick up any old purse and have it work for me.

    You’ll notice I’ve said virtually nothing about style. That’s because for me, a purse is a working object. As long as it’s not completely buttugly (and I’ve found that most buttugly bags are also not particularly functional), I’m ok with it. My purse is not there to make a statement – if it does, it’s stating that it belongs to a highly practical person, which is true.

  4. Bethany January 16, 2012 at 12:37 am #

    My perfect purse would be a big brown leather satchel type with a leather drawstring at the top.

  5. Liz January 16, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    I have a bad back, so I can’t wear the one strap over the shoulders like Twistie does.

    I’ve vowed off handbags for life after (1) I got mugged once and robbed (at work!) of my handbag and (2) a chiropractor recently told me to stop using them.

    So my current favourite bag is a small rucksack in a mixture of dark grey denim and black leather. It’s quite possibly the most comfortable bag I’ve ever used. It has just enough sections to be convenient, but not enough that I’m rooting through it every time my phone rings.

    It looks grown up – not a hint of schoolbag or neon colours about it – and it cost me €1.50 in a charity shop. And yes, I am very proud of myself for that.

  6. The gold digger January 16, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    I have detailed purse requirements and will go to great lengths to meet them:

    http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2011/11/in-which-i-get-my-purse-repaired.html

  7. AdventureGirl January 16, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    I’m looking for recommendations for a bag actually – it’s time to upgrade to a professional style portfolio type bag that can hold a small laptop, some paperwork, and a few odds and ends. Does anything come to mind for a stylish young professional?

  8. daisyj January 16, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    For years I’ve been carrying a Marc Jacobs satchel that I adore, but recently the zipper broke and I haven’t figured out yet how to fix it. But in the meantime I came across this bag from Derek Lam (mine is dark green), and it really is just about perfect. the styling is great, the front pocket has a magnetic closure and is angled so you can slip your hand in while you’re carrying it (no hunting for keys!) and the side pocket fits my phone. It isn’t wide, so no massive-bag-syndrome, but it is deep enough to carry pretty much whatever, and there’s a good number of interior pockets. The construction seems solid so far, but I’ve only had it a couple of months, and I’ve been burned by ostensibly-nice purses before.
    (And yes, I realize I’m kind of going on about this. But in my defense, most people talk way more about their kids, and those will hardly even hold your wallet.)

  9. Toastbat January 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    I need leather, because I’m a one-purse-all-the-time girl and the last time I bought a cloth purse specifically so it would be washable, it was destroyed when I did just that. Large, because I’m large (tiny bags look ridiculous on my fat, tall self and rarely fit right on my broad shoulders), and I am a mama (still need an emergency pull-up in there), and I always have a book and notebook on me. I’ve got a lovely oxblood red shoulder bag (slash overnight bag, yes indeed it is large, and comes with a second longer strap should I decide to use it as luggage) that I bought on Etsy. I LOVE it. Though I tend to favor cross-body messenger-style bags because I like having my hands free, this one fits on my shoulder well enough that I don’t have to worry. It also has a pretty cloth lining (no weird scratchy stuff that gives me goosebumps). It is pretty much my favorite bag ever. I will deal with a black bag if necessary, but I really do like more interesting colors, though I’m picky–sometimes the really brightly-dyed leather doesn’t look right.

  10. dcsurfergirl January 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    I tend to use a small bag (I am 5’4″ so larger bags can overpower me) for small items (wallet, keys, iPod, etc) I need to lock in a desk. I carry larger items (newspaper, lunch and other junk) in an inexpensive gift-with-purchase tote bag. If I need to, I can stash the purse in the bag.

    Right now I am carrying a Coach Court bag that my brother picked up on the Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue’s eBay page. The purchase price went right to the rescue!

  11. barbara January 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    I love that purse! I’m not sure it’s big enough for what I need to use it for or I’d be tempted.

    My favorite daytime purse is an elderly leather cross-body messenger bag type deal. It has vaguely hippyish tooling on the strap, and lots of pockets. I can fit my phone, wallet, kindle, keys, odds-and-ends, and my lunch. It’s too small for my laptop, or I’d be tempted.

    Note: this bag isn’t even remotely stylish; but it carries everything I need and I look a little more like a grown up than if I carried a backpack.

    I like cross-body styles too; they’re both more comfortable and more secure. I have my hands free, which is nice on public transportation.

    I do own grown up purses. I just seem to us this one instead!

  12. Lynn January 16, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    One word.

    Birkin

  13. ZaftigWendy January 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    I’m a knitter. That doesn’t just mean that I knit. That is the be-all and end-all of my lifestyle. That means I have yarn and needles and at least two projects with me at all times! And THAT means that my daytime bag must be ROOMY! Of course, it must also be stylish and cool looking and not make me look like a bag lady. I find that the bags from Namaste (I’m currently using the Monroe bag in lime green: http://www.amazon.com/Namaste-Eggplant-Purple-Handbag-Shoulder/dp/B004TTN2VC) fit the bill perfectly. I buy ’em at yarn shops. I do get a kick out of it when I non-knitter asks where I got my bag!

  14. Jezebella January 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    AdventureGirl, I have just the bag you are looking for, and it’s a Kenneth Cole from about a million years ago. I bought it TJ Maxx, which used to have a lot of Kenneth Cole – not sure if they still do or not. Anyhoo, look at KC’s messenger bag collection for men. They are sharp and some of them are quite affordable.

    I am currently carrying the perfect day purse: it is a sturdy cherry-red canvas Kavu satchel with two outside pockets (one for the phone, one for the keys, both velcro shut for security). Inside is a zipper pocket, and the straps are exactly the right length for me – long enough to wear on my shoulder, short enough to easily carry by hand. I’ve washed it a few times and it’s held up beautifully (bonus: the beer washed right out after a particularly hectic night of football watching at a bar). As it’s fabric, it weighs next-to-nothing, which makes my back, shoulders, and chiropractor happy. Sadly I cannot find a picture of it anywhere online, which means they don’t make them any more. Sad face. I have another Kavu bag that I am also fond of, a cross-body bag about the size of half a messenger bag. They make sturdy, cute, practical bags in fun colors and patterns, and most of them are animal-product-free, if that matters to you.

    All that said, as much as I love this bag, dcsurfergirl just reminded me that my Coach Court bag is probably lonely and forlorn in my closet, and would probably appreciate an airing.

  15. Mary January 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    My perfect purse is the one that I own and carry every day – a dark green croc-printed doctor-style bag that has shoulder straps of the perfect length and is big enough to hold wallet, phone, keys, paperback book, cross-stitch project, reusable grocery bag, and chopsticks all at once.

    I like it so much that when I was in a thrift store and saw the same style in black, I bought it IMMEDIATELY. I do like the dark green better, it has more of a “pop” when I wear a black coat, but once it finally dies a noble death, I’ll switch everything to the black one and go on for ten more years.

  16. ananas January 23, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    If we’re talking perfect daytime purse, it probably means for me, a nice messenger bag in some shade of tannish yellow brown leather. (Not black, and not chocolate brown, because I have hang ups about wearing blacks and dark browns together. Fashion-wise, I was raised by a guy, is all I can say.) This is because I tend to be hauling around papers and a laptop and a couple books, in the manner of students and tech workers everywhere.

    However, if I don’t have to carry around a laptop, my perfect bag tend to be an oversized clutch. I have almost the perfect one right now– fits my slab of a smartphone, wallet, a small pad of paper, a pen, my keys and the necessary chapstick/ beauty products easily, has simple, minimalist lines, a snap that holds up even if held upside down, and it’s bright red. The only thing keeping it back is that it was about 8 dollars and unfortunately wears like it. I’ll be lucky to be using it for the next year. But, you get what you pay for, I suppose.