Straps vs. Handles: Getting Personal about Purses

4 Dec
Coach,clutch, purses, handbags, Coldwater Creek, Basset Rescue

Clockwise, from top: Coach, gift, 2011; clutch, 1970; Coldwater Creek, 2008; purse from Arizona Basset Hound Rescue Basset Ball, 2010.

Anyone who has seen the 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives, a tale of three American World War II veterans’ readjustment to civilian life, remembers Homer (Harold Russell). A Navy vet, Homer is a double amputee, skilled in the use of his prosthetic arms; he can open a bottle of beer, smoke a cigarette, and dabble on the piano. Most importantly, he eventually  learns that his fiancee, Wilma, loves him the same as she did before he was injured. It’s an uplifting story.

What we can’t ask Homer is the kind of handbag he would prefer if he were a woman in 2012 (not that men don’t carry them, of course, but this blog focuses on women. Sorry, guys). Would a woman with two prosthetic arms, or one, want to bother with a purse, or would she choose one in a style she liked and have a friend carry it for her? I cannot answer that question; I can only speak from my own perspective. Taste in handbags is highly individualistic anyway, whether the consumer is disabled or non-disabled. But thinking about your preferences can make life easier.

Stressing about Straps: Day bag Dilemmas

Even before I developed chronic back pain, shoulder bags and across-the-body bags were out to get me. As long as I stood still, a shoulder bag worked well; once I leaned over, for example, to look at something in a store, Whoosh! my bag careened forward like a wrecking ball. Then I would be locked in battle with it, pushing it back onto my hip as it kept falling forward, distracting me and coming close to smashing heaven knows what. I realize some shoulder bags have adjustable straps, but they still aren’t as easy to carry as other purses with handles or–best of both worlds, for many–handles plus detachable straps.

Across-the-body styles stay put but seem to hit my body in the wrong places.  Seriously, when you put the purse on, is the strap supposed to go above, directly across, or under your breast?   When the strap crosses my body above it, near my neck, I feel like I’m going to choke (the same reason I avoid wearing turtlenecks). Directly across the chest? Squish–no go. Below? I feel like a failed advertisement for Playtex: ” She’s crossing her heart…one side at a time.”  You thought the fanny pack was bad for symmetry? Cross-body purses may sit more securely and prevent the wrecking-ball effect, but the proximity of the strap to my neck, shoulder, and breast does not work for me on a day-to-day basis.  I’ve never found one that tucked comfortably against my side, either. For evening occasions, though, smaller shoulder- and cross-body bags suit me. It must be the size and added bulk I stuff into a day bag that irritate me. C’est la vie.

Hear, Hear: Handles and Clutches

From about sixth grade on, I thought shoulder bags were it for day wear if a girl wanted to avoid the granny look. Now I’m granny age, and in some respects it’s nice to be wrong! Although I’ve had the zippered clutch pictured above since my early teens, if I pack light enough for evening (always a challenge for me!), it still works. If I can’t streamline my stuff, the clutch works as a makeup case or as storage for other small items. The Coldwater Creek purse and Basset Rescue purse hold more items; the Coldwater Creek purse, in a neutral grey, is especially versatile. On my wish list? A black or metallic clutch. For day, there is my rounded, handled Coach (thanks, Sis!) What is there to say about this style that hasn’t already been said? Roomy, stylish, functional–it will remain a favorite.  All of the above are easy to carry and cause no discomfort unless I cram too much stuff in them–my fault.

What Works for You?

I will not prescribe, or proscribe, anything fashion-related; I will leave that to the pros. My friends at spashionistareport and give wonderful advice, and Stephanie Thomas of luvwhatuwear even describes a bra with a hidden compartment for gals who would like to enjoy outings without having to carry purses. Alicia the Spashionista has even found a small, light shoulder bag for evening that I’m considering! Deciding on a handbag is based on personal needs and preferences; may your favorite style meet your needs.


4 Responses to “Straps vs. Handles: Getting Personal about Purses”

  1. Carol Fry December 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Great one!

    Sent from an iPad Zonie!

  2. spashionistareport December 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    I’m a firm believer in finding what works for you and wearing it in the best way possible. I’m so pleased that you’re considering the bag I chose for your profile on my site. But,regardless of what style bag you choose I think the key is to wear it with confidence.

    • desiburger2000 December 5, 2012 at 1:38 am #

      Absolutely! Confidence is a major part of style! Thanks, as always, for your insight, Spashionista!

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