Thinking of using a satchel bag? Well, unless you're a 14-year-old schoolgirl, forget it
I would like a bag for the new season and have noticed a lot of satchel bags around. But I cannot seem to figure out a good way to carry/wear them. Am I missing something obvious?
Caroline, by email
On the contrary, Caroline, you are stating the obvious. You are the small child, standing in the parade, pointing at the empress of fashion, Alexa Chung, and crying: "Look! A bag that crosses a lady's chest is only going to look good on the particularly lithe! On everyone else it's going to smush one's boobs until one points north, one points south, and one's chest resembles a busted compass. Can no one else see this? I feel like I'm eating crazy pills!"
I love the idea of a satchel bag. So preppy! So cute! So fantastic at freeing up 50% of one's hands that are usually otherwise engaged in clutching a handbag but can now be employed for important tasks such as buying things and exercising one's right arm to lift drinks to one's mouth. Brilliant! It's like the invention of the wheel!
Can you hear a but coming? On the wind, perhaps? Ah yes, here it is: but let us look at the appeal of the satchel again, shall we, from the very beginning. So preppy: this refers to a look associated with ritzy American schools – ah! What was that word again? Schools. In other words, a look worn by young folk who are, say, 14 years old. These strange young people – their skin so unnaturally fresh, their iPods so impossibly loud – wear clothes a little differently from you and I, Caroline, and that is because they are younger and therefore their bodies are slightly different. Not better. Just different. This means that the clothes one sees on them will look different from when worn on oneself, and satchel bags are possibly the ultimate case in point.
Fine, you say, you can't wear them across the body: how about if you just let them dangle down the body? OK, I reply, but only if you want an incredibly awkward handbag that will require you to bend your body into all manner of sideways contortions when you need to get something out of it.
Aha! You cry, a triumphal glint in your eye flashing somewhat maniacally. What if you just carry the satchel bag, folding up the long strap in your hand? So casual and debonair. Sure, I shrug, calm as you like. But in which case you may as well have bought a normal handbag, seeing as you've gone back to having to carry the damn thing. Plus you'll never remember to carry the long strap all the time and it will end up dragging in puddles, picking up all manner of unspeakable debris.
Game, set and match to me, I do believe.
What is the point in buying clothes that you need to dry clean? Doesn't that mean you end up having to pay £5 every time you wear them?
Diane, by email
That's right, Diane. Think of it as like a building maintenance charge: you know, that extra £50 a month or whatever you are unexpectedly told you have to pay on top of the cardiac-arrest-inducing amount you paid to buy your flat.
In fact, I resent the whole dry-cleaning issue even more than building charges because it encourages one of the worst attitudes one can have in connection to fashion: the idea that "special" clothes should be saved for "special" occasions, and these occasions tend to involve you being seen by others. After all, what would be the point in spending the inevitable £7.50 dry-cleaning fee to wear a gorgeous party dress just around your house while doing some chores?
But, but, but! That is precisely when one should wear a gorgeous party dress! Fashion should be about dressing for oneself and having fun, not looking for approval in other's eyes, and there is no better example of the former than wearing one's favourite cocktail dress at home on one's own on a dull Sunday afternoon while doing the cleaning. Those are the kinds of times when one needs cheering, not at parties (although it's rather jolly to get dressed up for those, too). But, oh, the £7.50 dry-cleaning charge. Well, if needs must, I find that a good marathon of Poirot on the TV can also help to make Sunday afternoons go with a swing but, with all respect to David Suchet, it's not quite the same.
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