What to Consider When Shopping for a Leather Handbag
The relationship between a woman and her handbag is an important one. Many western women will go to great lengths to get their hands on something special; eating baked beans on toast for a month seems a fair trade for the latest Miu Miu Coffer bag.
For most women, their handbag is more than just a sack that houses keys, a phone, money, cards, and lipstick. Their handbag is a personal statement, and quality counts. But quality doesn’t have to come at the expense of sacrifice, you can buy quality for an affordable price if you know what to look for.
Understanding quality and durability
When making an investment in a leather handbag, you should feel confident that you’re buying the real thing.
Tags should be looked at, and if the tag says it’s made of “manmade materials” then step away from it if genuine leather is your goal.
Two factors ultimately determine the quality (and price) of a leather handbag: the hide selection and the tanning process. The hide selection refers to the number of natural marks and cleanliness of the leather, while the tanning process describes the treatment in which animal skin is made more durable and less susceptible to decomposition.
When made well, a leather handbag should have a soft, supple touch that is naturally appealing and inviting. It should not resemble anything synthetic, so avoid anything plastic or rubber looking. Synthetic leathers simply don’t have the same strength and ageing benefits.
A good way to tell the quality of a bag is to look at its lining. When made of anything flimsy or cheap, you can generally presume that the manufacturer hasn’t made the bag with durability in mind. Handbags are heavily used, and you’re probably going to be hard on it. A manufacturer knows this, and what’s inside the bag reflects the craftsmanship and expected lifespan of the product.
Zippers too are an important component, and should never be compromised. Teeth should not be too sharp and sliders should be made of brass. Anything less and the zip simply won’t support the constant opening and closing of a well-used bag. Zipper-tape fabric should be used for sturdiness, as most zippers break when the cloth along the edges of the teeth wears through. The zip itself should operate smoothly to avoid unnecessary frictional wear. Lastly, the weight and size of the zipper should be considered, bearing in mind that you’ll likely overstuff your handbag on occasions.
Real leather has a very different look than imitation leather. Real leather will be imperfect in regards to the size and shape of its surface pores, so when examining the surface of your leather handbag, look for pores with uneven shapes and sizes. If the pores are consistent and in a regular pattern, it’s likely the bag uses some synthetic materials. Additionally, real leather will have a certain “rough around the edges” look about it.
Handles and straps
The majority of your contact with your handbag will be with its strap or handle. It should feel comfortable and sturdy in the hand, and should be made from multiple layers of stacked leather. Handles should not be so long that they attract swaying of your bag when walking, as this will increase stress on the bag. If stitched, there should be an extra layer of tacking where the handle meets the bag.
The perfect arm piece should be both polished and practical. It should also reflect your lifestyle. If you don’t have the time, energy or resources to switch your bag with every outfit, look for something that’s versatile. Black and brown goes with just about everything, but so too do skins, metallics, and shades of white or cream. A bright bag will be good if your usual look is toned down with dark clothing or simple tees and jeans.
In terms of choosing a bag that suits “your look”, messenger bags are generally suited to sporty people, structured bags suit the ladylike and business folk, while slouchy is ideal for the shabby chic. A bag for the evenings calls for a little studded style and fringed edge.
If you regularly take a lot out with you, look for a large tote bag that will support this. Nothing looks worse than an overstuffed bag, and the extra weight will put pressure on the bag compromising its longevity. Just be careful not to convince yourself that a big bag means even more stuff. It’s important you don’t weigh yourself down or put too much strain on your neck or shoulders.
Size is also dependent on your stature, so a tall woman with a small bag will look out of proportion. Choose a small to medium-sized bag if you’re petite, and a larger one if you’re tall and broad.
If you’re planning to purchase a good leather handbag, you must be prepared to care for it appropriately. Leather must be maintained to keep it looking good, so aim to clean and condition your bag at least twice a year. Heavily soiled bags will need to be cleaned more often.
Caring for your bag also means filling it with the right accessories. Strandbags at Marketplace Gungahlin can help with this, stocking a good range of wallets, vanity bags and straps.