Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fashion forward again

Even a broken watch tells the right time twice a day.  And even those of us who don't worry about fashion sometimes find ourselves ahead of the curve.  You just have to sit in your accustomed place and do your normal thing as the cycles of fashion sneak up behind you, and then -- wow!  You're hot!

I was pleased but not surprised to find that it has happened again, as I read in the New York Times last week that the latest must-have accessory is a canvas tote bag.  "The tote might be the ideal carryall for these post-luxury recessionary times. The tote’s status is stealth. It telegraphs not money but access, ethics, culture — encapsulating the idea ... that happiness grows more through experiences than purchases."

I have been there for a long time.  Shortly after I retired, a decade ago, I made a life-changing decision, which was to stop carrying a purse.  I had shlepped too many tons of irrelevant crap through too many airports in my business career, and when I realized I didn't have to do that any more, life got better.  I downsized to a little card case that I carry in my pants pocket, just big enough for a license, a credit card and a couple of bills. 

If I was carrying other things -- date book, handwork, kleenex, comb, checkbook, camera -- I would put them into a canvas bag.  I took to maintaining many different canvas bags, which lived in different places and were always ready to go, such as one with crocheting to take to meetings; one with crayons, books and kid stuff to go with me to my volunteer work; one that accumulates things to take to grab bag at my fiber art group.  Sometimes I carry two bags at once.  My collection of canvas bags grew larger and more exotic over the years, until I suddenly find myself in the flush of fashion.

Of course the New York fashionistas seem to be carrying slightly different tote bags than I do.  The article cites bags from big-name designers' shows and Halloween parties, fancy restaurants, international artists and celebrity charities.  Mine are a bit more eclectic but I like to think much more exclusive than those mentioned in the Times.

Sure, everybody needs a reminder or two of the global financial crisis.  When the good times rolled, the fancy firms got really great bags!  After it all hit the fan, family members of those employees left to sweep out the closets and turn out the lights got some nifty hand-me-downs.

International art mementoes are always good.

Travel souvenirs, exotic and not so much.

Stains attest to the fact that I actually use these bags -- only working status symbols in this household.

As the Times wrote, access, ethics, culture.  Here's the one I bet you'll never see in New York:

And its flip side.  Now there's a statement for the ages.


  1. Kathy, I have to know--how did you come by the bag from Williston?

    Kim in ND

  2. The old-fashioned way -- we were on a road trip and visited Fort Union, a delightful historical site. (Lewis and Clark stopped there.)

    This was about a year after the fur trade conference and they had some leftover tote bags in the gift shop that CALLED TO ME!!! Had a great time and I would love to do the trip again. Probably would have liked the fur trade conference too, since I was a history major in a previous life.