Ages ago Carla at Kiki & Me wrote a great news story about vintage and explored why so many of us have a taste for old or old-style fashion and accessories. She asked people to share details of their treasured vintage items, and ever since then I’ve been meaning to write this post (and its two follow-ups, featuring my vintage jewellery and vintage fashion). And I was further inspired by this cool post from the Crazy Chic fashion blog on Stuff, a Kiwi newspaper website. The Crazy Chic blog is great – check out the archives and learn all sorts of useful information about dressing for your body shape, amongst other things.
My love affair with vintage handbags started when I was 18 or 19, living in Wellington and developing a fondness for fairly girly fashion – lots of dresses and little skirt suits. This was my first vintage handbag, and cost me $5 from a stall in what was then the James Smiths market.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that bag in the past 18 years, or how many compliments it’s earned me. The colour of the leather is a perfect – and fairly distinctive – rose pink, and for a vintage bag it’s in great condition; even the lining is reasonably decent.
My second vintage handbag was this blue tweed number – I’m fairly sure that it came from a Wellington charity shop (or ‘op shop’, as they’re called in the part of the world), but it may have been a second hand shop find elsewhere in NZ:
Again, people love this bag and always comment on it when I use it – even total strangers on London trains ask me about it (and anybody who has spent much time in London knows how rare this kind of conversation is).
I love the colour, and also the leather detail:
Sadly, the moths got to it at some point and I found a few holes, but I’m resourceful soul, so I covered them up with beading:
Hilariously, the last random stranger who complimented me on this bag made a point of saying how much she liked the beading, so it just goes to show that moths have their uses, and that making do and mending can pay dividends.
This stylish camel-coloured number was definitely a second hand shop find, and wouldn’t have cost more than $10:
Very Jackie O, don’t you think? I’ve used this bag a lot over the years – particularly when camel-coloured stuff has been in vogue.
Those three bags have followed me to the UK and back, and been the finishing touch on so many great outfits.
This brown leather bag is bonkers:
It was a lucky find a few years ago, while I was home in NZ for a visit – I was walking past a brand new second hand shop and went in to have a rummage. The owners hadn’t really opened yet and were mildly perturbed by me being there, but they didn’t actually try to throw me off the premises, so I made myself comfortable. This bag was one of the first things I saw, and I pounced on it immediately. Flustered, the shop owners didn’t really have a clue, and I bought it for a mere $2. Bargain! It was perfect as a nod to the boho aesthetic a few years ago (and was probably the only boho accessory I ever owned):
It’s also a very handy bag because the strap can be short (as per the picture), or lengthened to turn it into a shoulder bag. Genius!
Finally, this bag was bought from a second hand trading shop in rural Bedfordshire – one of those places where several market traders gather under the same roof.
It’s handy because it’s actually a decent size and can be a practical choice for a working day (must as I love the other bags I’ve featured, they’re all fairly tiny and require a lot of thought if one is to rely upon them – although the tooled leather bag is a great option for a shopping trip).
This bag is a bit ‘pleather’, but I do like the colour:
I can’t write about these bags without also remembering two bags I’ve loved and lost (or, rather, foolishly passed on to charity shops and then missed). One was cream leather and one was maroon leather, and they were both that classic ‘old lady bag’ style: the same size as my rose pink bag, but with a more curved rectangular body. I hope that their new owners loved them.
It’s really hard to find decent vintage handbags now – people have cottoned on to their general fabulousness, and prices have skyrocketed. To be fair, I have so many handbags (vintage and new) that I can’t justify buying them anyway…