Purse Search, Purse Hell

Still haven’t found a summer purse. Can’t carry the black leather tote in the summer because I’ll poach the phone in a black bag. So I’m on the lookout for a summer tote.  But aliens have invaded the brains of purse designers, making them design bags with enough buckles, straps, and whip ends to win the Preakness shiny red bagwithout a jockey. And never fear them breaking delicate ankles. The bags I saw tonight were thicker than the skin of a politician cheating on his wife. Who needs to be carrying a bag with an 8-inch bottom?  Get an LL Bean tote if you need that, but please give me a tote that doesn’t make me look as wide as a street sweeper.

In fact, here are some rules for all you purse designers to sell on Etsy, Ebay and store outlets:

1. Stop using magnets. Please. I know they are cheaper than zippers. They also mess up debit cards, metro passes, hotel room keys and iPhones. And no, I don’t want to carry my iPhone in a separate bag. One, good, big bag will do. I looked at 300 bags tonight, and two of them (both priced at more than $300) were magnet free.

2. Use a lining that isn’t black. I don’t want to have to carry a flashlight to find something in the darkturquoise bag recesses of my purse. Use a lighter lining–tan, gray, red. Just not black.

3. If you are going to add a cellphone pocket, please measure a cellphone first. And not just yours. Measure an iPhone, too. The purses I saw tonight are apparently designed for gum-chewers, as  the pockets were neither deep enough nor wide enough to hold my cell phone.

Bag from Nordstrom4. All those samples from Restoration Hardware you’ve attached to the outside of the purse can be exchanged for a decent outside pocket. It’s where I’d like to put my keys or cellphone, or my boarding pass or even that tower of precarious bills, change and receipt that the grocery checker  balances on your palm, leaving you to walk out of the store carrying because you need both hands to put it away.

5. If you are going to build a vertical purse, please put a lot of pockets on the walls. Otherwise, everything falls into the dark bottom and bulges. I already have a body that looks like that, please make my purse more practical.

6. Make the strap adjustable. I know the Size 00 you designed it for can get it over her tiny shoulder, but if the strap is so short that I have to apply antiperspirant to the bag  to be able to wear it without ruining it, the strap is too short.

7. Give the top a closure I can use with one hand. No magnets, please. In addition to the problems in Item #1, a magnet shuts the middle, leaving both ends open, inviting the pickpocket riding next to me on the Metro to help himself. A zipper is the best. A zipper that closes from both sides is best of all.

8. Please don’t tuck that extra foot of lining you have leftover into the bag. A lining that fills up the bag and hides half the contents of the bag is no friend to those of us in a hurry to find the checkbook.

9. If you are going to use a double handle, measure carefully. If they aren’t the same size, the longer one will keep flopping off our shoulders.

10. Many women like to carry a magazine or a file folder in their bag. Please don’t make it 1/8 of an inch too short. Make it fit, or make it a lot smaller. Don’t be a tease.

–Bags, from top:  Red, shiny bag: Antonio Melani Small Hobo Bag $199.00 at Dillards; turquoise pleated bag: Prada Tessuto Gaufre Hobo $1,195.00 at Neiman Marcus; taupe multi-pocket bag: Plenty by Tracy Reese Multi Pocket Drawstring Hobo, $335.00 at Nordstrom.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer who carries a journal, colored pencils, an iPhone, and a book in her purse. She is convinced that the right purse is out there, with clean lines and no frou-frou. See Quinn’s website at QuinnCreative.com