For anyone a bag is an important accessory; it holds the accoutrements to our life on a daily basis and should therefore be a considered purchase; it's such a significant partner!
1) Material- Okay so you've decided on a Leather bag but what type of leather? Supple and soft, or structured and durable. Lamb or Calfskin? Pebble Grain or Saffiano? As the majority of bags are made of Cow or Calf Leather you also may need to know your grain from your nubuck.
Full Grain leather is considered to be the top quality of leather grains, the skin has not been interfered with and is highly sought after. Then there is the Top grain, which is often treated to diminish blemishes or scars on the skin.
Saffiano Leather is a finish that was patented in 1913, by Mario Prada. It gives leather a textured surface, recognisable by a criss-hatch pattern, which is made by a machine, see pic left. The treatment makes the leather scratch resistant, durable and easy to care for, which is why similar finishes are featured in high end or designer collections for the more structured styles.
Bonded leather is the lowest grade as it's a reconstituted material made from leather scraps. Obviously this is used for less expensive accessories, and lacks the quality and durability of Full grain or Top grain leathers.
Nubuck is cowhide leather that has been rubbed or sanded on the outer side of the hide to make it feel like suede.
Suede is actually the name of the finish on a leather where the flesh or underside has been rubbed to create a velvety, soft nap.
Lambskin is a less popular choice for a Day bag, as although the leather is soft and supple, it can be easily torn or marked and so isn't as suitable.
Also what's your default hold position? Do you automatically hold it in your hand or move it on to the shoulder. I've found a cross body bag is my preferred style, so I opt for bags with a long adjustable strap or attachable strap, as I often need to be hands free.
If you want a shoulder bag then be aware of the shoulder drop dimension, the highest point of the strap vertically down to the top of the body of the bag. How long would you like it? Refer to this when researching online.
Also look at the gusset, side width, and base. Measure the dimensions of your go to bags and that will give you a foundation to check the measurements of your future purchase by.
Also think about the ideal interior of your perfect bag. Do you like to rummage around a Bucket bag or do you like organiser pockets and an internal key fob for front door keys? Do you need a divider or does it need to be large to house A4 documents?
How secure should it be? Zip top, tab top, drawstring or flap over clasp? Once you've made all these decisions you'll be so much clearer on what it is you want, making it easier to finding that perfect bag companion!
Hardware on a bag refers to the clasp, the buckle, attachments, decorative metal detailing or zip colour. I would recommend choosing a bag with hardware that matches back to your most worn jewellery items. The most popular are shiny silver and soft gold, but may also come in Antique brass or Black nickel finishes.
4) Colour- This is tricky as I can't prescribe any hard or fast rules here. However I would always buy a 'Neutral' when spending a bit more on a leather bag.
I'm lucky enough to own a Chanel bag which is in Ivory, an Anya Hindmarch bag which is in an Elephant grey and a Coccinelle bag in Black with a contrast coloured panel.
I think a Putty or Mushroom colour will see the most wear, as they can transition between Spring and Autumn. I prefer an Oxblood Burgundy, Chocolate and Navy to Black, but saying that if I was purchasing an Iconic Hermes or Chanel bag would default to Black! I think Tan can be a tricky shade; if it's too dark and heavy or too yellow it will be difficult to blend with your outfits.
Air Force Blue is another shade to consider; and there's a lot of this blue in the SS17 collections, like this Anya Hindmarch Bathurst Satchel £1,295 , top left.
5) Budget- A Gucci or Fendi Designer bag can set you back over a thousand pounds but most high end leather bags will be in the hundreds, from Kate Spade, Coccinelle, Michael Kors or Radley. Look at Department store websites to see all the brands available, choose your favourites, then you can filter down on price.
If you want to see more inspiration from the catwalks then click on Vogues Ultimate Bag Guide for SS17 or do more research with this post from careergirldaily.com, 'The 7 handbags every career girl should have in her closet'.
Next week I'll do a post on my favourite leather bags for the new season, with more from the high street too. Click on the links for more information and thanks for stopping by.