I’ve never been one of those women who were crazy about shoes. Probably because I have the fattest feet ever, so that even when my body is at its slimmest, I still have to shop for my feet in the plus size department. When I was a little girl, my mother took me to a special shoe store that carried shoes in widths up to triple-E, and on occasion they would special order a quadruple -E just for my fat little feet. I feel like I’ve been wearing old-lady shoes since I was five. They don’t make really cute shoes in quadruple -E.
All this to say that I sublimated shoe love into purse love. There was a time when I owned not one, not two, but seven Coach purses. I had a leather one in every color (brown, cordovan, navy , white, off-white, cream, and black). Then a few years ago, Coach stopped making leather purses – now all their bags are some canvas like material and they have these strange geometric patterns on them. I was extremely disappointed by this. These bags are very unappealing to me, and certainly do not live up to the standard of classic fashion that I had come to expect from my years of loyalty to the Coach brand.
So, I moved on. I got into Brighton bags for a while, but was never totally in love with them. I did like their accessories – the watches, bracelets, and earrings are very nice. I still wander through the Brighton store at Southwest Florida airport and look longingly at the luggage, especially the bright red pieces. Very fun.
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine got a Tiganello bag in butter yellow. The leather was extremely soft and supple, and she looked just darling carrying it on her shoulder. I coveted it for a while, and when it went on sale at Macy’s, I bought it. After a few days of carrying it on my shoulder, I was bent sideways – the thing weighed a ton. I took out everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary (meaning an emergency sewing kit and a teabag) and it still felt like hauling a sack of potatoes around.
For a while I was totally into little purses in every color. I had purses to match every outfit, and some that matched no outfits just for fun. I had a red purse one winter, and an olive green purse when they were cool. I had the yellow purse for spring, and a burnt orange purse for fall. My friends started calling me the rainbow purse girl.
Last year I gave up on purses. I still carry one – but the operative word is one. I’ve limited myself to one bag per season, instead of having a bag for every outfit. Plus, I’ve become extremely picky about the type of bag it is. It has to have a short shoulder strap, and contain only one inner compartment. It must have a zipper pocket on the outside, and a cell phone pocket on the inside. I have become an absolute fussbudget about my purse.
I am amazed at how much time I save in the morning, now that I no longer have to shift the contents of my purse from one to another. Many mornings I was rushing to dump the wallet, the pocket calendar, the pill container, the ipod, the lip gloss, the reading glasses, the notepad, the breath mints, the phone (dear God, don’t forget the phone), and the office keys (just in case I need to lock up), from one bag into another just minutes before dashing out the door. Now it’s all in one purse, and it stays there through the entirety of one major season.
I feel bad about my purses, though. I still have a closet full of them. The cute little brown one with the bow on it. The purple leather clutch. A turquoise bag that exactly matched a sweater, jacket, and watch. The nice thing about purses was that they didn’t need to be a size. It made no difference whether my feet were fat, or my belly was bloated, or my hips a little too wide. A purse always looked good, and it didn’t even matter what day of the month it was.
But one thing I’ve noticed about getting older – I don’t care about all that so much any more. I’d rather have the extra time spent changing purses each morning to sleep, or drink another cup of coffee, or scratch my dog behind his ears.
After all, I’ve been wearing frumpy shoes all my life, and my mother taught me that your purse and shoes should always match.