Snooping Around, Part 5: Bags

What do women (and some men) carry in their handbags? I didn’t give this question much thought until my last trip through Gatwick departures: the contents of a non-bulging Mulberry tote going into the security scanner ahead of my over-stuffed monstrosity sparked my curiosity just as much as the details of Gwyneth Paltrow’s exercise routine. If I had been the security officer, I would have been tempted to fabricate a suspicious object that had to be inspected in said bag, just to have a poke around. Would that be frowned upon…?

In the spirit of the Snooping Around series, I’ve decided to a) share with you the contents of my own handbag, and b) tell you about a few of my bag-snooping interweb finds.

First off: my handbag. I generally switch between handbags a few times a week, but this one is my current favourite because it goes with everything, and fits in all my ‘essentials’. My mother bought the handbag for herself about four years ago and then last year decided that it was time to throw it away because it was starting to look scruffy. Fortunately, I saved it. ‘Scruffy’ is a relative term: I actually like the look of the worn leather…it looks a bit vintagey and loved.

Photo: My Handbag

And here’s what’s inside (doesn’t the bag look sad when empty??):

Photo: Bag Contents

These are my essentials if I’m going for a full day out (if I have 9-5 lectures, for example), but most of the time I manage with less. I don’t bother with the water or iPad if I’m only out for an hour or two. If I’m going out in the evening, I’ll just squeeze my true essentials (phone, keys, purse, Oyster card, lipgloss, blotting paper, comb, and, occasionally, camera) into a clutch.

  • Phone
  • Keys
  • iPad – in navy Calabrese case
  • Oyster card
  • Coach purse before my summer holidays started, I decided to downsize my purse. Since I don’t use my store cards as much when at home during the holidays, I waved (a temporary) bye-bye to everything but my ID, debit card and some change. It felt oddly liberating, but I’m searching for a slightly larger purse for when I’m back in London (don’t want to miss out on those Boots Advantage and Nectar points…)
  • Camera – since I started this blog, I’ve noticed that there are things to photograph absolutely EVERYWHERE
  • Moleskine monthly diary – more for jotting down ideas and things that I want to look up at home, than for organisation purposes
  • Waitrose bag for life – I’m always making unexpected supermarket trips…though not always to Waitrose, as the bag may suggest
  • Umbrella
  • Bobble water bottle
  • Cath Kidston pouch:
      • YSL lipstick (Rouge Volupté in shade 14), Kiehl’s SPF 15 tinted lip balm, Lancome SPF 15 lipgloss.
      • Clinique sun cream – I rarely use this as I prefer La Roche Posay’s Anthelios AC SPF 30 Extreme Fluid for its matte anti-greasy quality. I use the Clinique to moisturise my hands and when I forget to put suncream on in the morning.
      • Dior mascara
      • Space NK teeny bottle of perfume
      • Comb, hairbands and hair grips
      • Small pot of Bare Escentuals foundation and brush for on-the-go touch-ups, blotting paper
      • Girly bits (*whispers* T-A-M-P-O-N-S)
Photo: Make-up Pouch

In term-time, I’d also carry a notepad, memory stick and always ALWAYS a scientific calculator.

[Not pictured: receipts, post-its, chewing gum, crumbs, change that has found its way out of my purse/that I’ve been too lazy to put into my purse.]

And all of that weighs 4.2kg!!

For more bag-snooping, have a look at these:

– Tod’s D-Bag iPad app: I was pleasantly surprised to find that the app wasn’t as much of an advertising ploy as it could’ve been. With the tagline “My life is in this Bag”, it takes us into the polished lives and (D-)bags of six women. It has lots of nice touches: for example, there’s a video from each woman and a handwritten diary entry about their occupation and favourite things/places. But it goes further than that – some objects in the handbag have special features: on Lauren Remington Platt’s profile, you can click a lighter, which then brings up one of her playlists…which you can then email (with a link to the iTunes page for the playlist). Similarly, if you click on the apple in Christina Villegas-Boujnah’s profile, you find the recipe for her mother’s apple compote.

The whole thing is beautifully presented and, of course, there’s a store locator, in case you feel compelled to make a purchase. If you have an iPad, I urge you to download this free app…just for the childhood pleasure of clicking on things and being surprised by the result.

I have two favourites. Firstly, Victoria Tang’s handbag for the sheer hilarity that it’s implied that she carries a dumbbell around in her bag (kudos to her if she does):

Photo: Victoria Tang's Handbag

And secondly, Lauren Remington Platt’s bag for the elegance of its contents:

Photo: Lauren Remington Platt's Handbag

[Both images are screenshots of the Tod’s D-Bag app from my iPad. Credit: Tod’s]

Persona Series by Jason Travis: A series of photographs of Atlantans and the things that they carry around with them. This is a brilliant collection of photographs – Travis’ portraits really capture the essence of each subject’s personality, so the accompanying photo of the contents of the subject’s bag/pockets doesn’t seem to require an explanation (apparently, this combination of two photos is called a diptych). He’s also published a book with the photographs, and his work has been covered by the likes of CNN, Gizmodo and Marie Claire.

F*** YEAH What’s in Your Bag: Not really getting the need for expletives in the title here, but it’s a nice Tumblr blog, with lots of photos. However, with no descriptions, it lacks the ‘window into a life’ aspect of the Tod’s app (sorry to those that don’t have iPads!).

The contents of Anya Hindmarch’s bag

–  Independent Fashion Bloggers Project #9: Scroll down on this page to see a list of 104 posts featuring the contents of various fashion bloggers’ bags.

– Inside My Bag: This one was set up by Bryan of Bryanboy fame. However, it lacks the sleekness of Bryanboy…in fact, it’s rubbish to look at, and the last post is from 2007…so perhaps resort to this only if you’re in *serious* need of bag porn.

Snooping Around, Part 4: Wardrobes

For those of you who are starting to find this whole snooping around thing a tad monotonous, look away for the next couple of days – there are just a couple more posts in the series. It should be safe to take a peek on Wednesday or Thursday.

For those of you who, like me, can never have too many windows into a person’s life, I’ll be telling you about one of my favourite insights into wardrobes tres tres chic.

One of the key things about these Snooping Around blogs is that new posts are added frequently – much more frequently than we can get our hands on our favourite monthly magazines. There is a constant supply of new ideas and, crucially, it’s a lot easier to identify with these ideas than with a model in a Vogue shoot. The photoshopped spreads in monthly glossies speak of a beautiful way of life; a life where you can wear stilettos in fields and on sand dunes, and where dog paws aren’t magnetically attracted to anything white. And, although I yearn for this escapism and extravagance once in a while (on a monthly basis, as it happens!), day-to-day I need something less staged, more pared down, and more achievable. A ‘real’ girl’s wardrobe.

Enough chatter…

The Coveteur

I LOVE this blog. The idea of looking into the wardrobes of some very stylish people was conceived and realised by designer Erin Kleinberg and stylist Stephanie Mark. Along with photographer Jake Rosenberg, the team have built up a stunning catalogue of wardrobes full of outfit ideas and inspiration for interiors and colour combinations.

The photographs are beautifully curated and composed and feature a ‘Shop This Look’ option, in case you’re feeling inspired enough to replicate the photograph yourself (convenient, but painful for my bank balance). The photographs also include a commentary from the “talent”, as Kleinberg and Mark refer to the owner of the wardrobe, explaining the significance and influence of their favourite possessions on their style.

Photo: Screenshot (sorry about the quality) from a feature on George Kotsiopoulos (celebrity stylist, co-host, “Fashion Police), living in Los Angeles. Credit: Jake Rosenberg, The Coveteur 

Whilst many of the women that grace the photos of The Coveteur can afford significantly more Blahniks and Chanel 2.55s than I can, they are still essentially working women who taylor their wardrobes for a variety of occasions; meetings, seminars, business lunches, SATC gossip-with-friends lunches, first dates, anniversary dinners.

The details vary – a Fashion Director and a Market Analyst will have different ideas about what is appropriate to wear to a meeting – but the underlying principles are the same. We all want to look like strong, sexy, competent women. Some women achieve this with a monochrome wardrobe. Others feel confident only in Missoni stripes and Pucci prints. But each can find inspiration in the other’s style: perhaps the Jil Sander minimalist will bring some colour into her look with a bright lip, and the Missoni girl will incorporate the minimalist trend into her wardrobe with some sharper silhouettes. And you can recreate either look at the price-point relevant to you – for students like myself, stores like Zara, COS, Massimo Dutti, Whistles and Reiss offer up-to-date good quality pieces at reasonable prices. There are also some great finds on ASOS (though it’s harder to tell as you can’t feel the material), and, if you’re feeling flush, a trip to Bicester Village is fabulous for those ‘investment pieces’.

Photo: The Coveteur ScreenshotPhoto: A screenshot from a feature on Annabel Tollman, a fashion stylist and journalist living in New York. Credit: Jake Rosenberg, The Coveteur

There’s also Diary of the Coveteur; a behind-the-scenes look at the photoshoots for The Coveteur, which shows just how much fun they have…

Doesn’t it make you want to be there?! (click photo and scroll down to find the story) Photo credit: Jake Rosenberg, Diary of The Coveteur

Show Me Your Wardrobe

Show Me Your Wardrobe has a slightly more casual approach than The Coveteur; more what I would call a ‘traditional blog’, with the most recent posts at the top, and the oldest many clicks of “Older Posts –>” away.

The blog was created by Jackie Dixon, a stylist who has worked with numerous publications. If you missed any of her Show Me Your Wardrobe features for ELLE, they’re all up on her blog. She has shot for several publications, including British Vogue, and has collaborated on projects with Benetton, Matches and Selfridges (to name but a few), so she’s one ‘Fashion Insider’ that really deserves the title.

Like The Coveteur, this blog gives us “a sneaky peek into the wardrobes of today’s creative talent” (Dixon’s words). However, Dixon tends to photograph the clothes as we would see them: worn as an outfit on a person.

The Bottom Line: Although both The Coveteur and Show Me Your Wardrobe aim to do the same thing – to give us a window into how other people dress – they do it in very different ways. I go to The Coveteur for inspiration and to look at beautiful photography. Show Me Your Wardrobe (understandably) feels like more of a diary for Dixon and her projects and I go there to be a fly on the wall in in the life of a stylist.