In my last post, I talked about vintage clothes, and I promised to talk about accessories another time because I had a lot to say on them. Today is that day! And it turns out that, actually, I need to write several posts about accessories because I still have too much to say.
Today, I’m talking handbags, and future posts will include hats, shoes and jewellery (if you think I’m missing an accessory, please let me know and I’ll write a post on that too!)
Vintage handbags can add a bit of glamour to evening wear, or a bit of fun to more casual daywear. Or, indeed, a bit of glamour to a daytime outfit or a bit of fun to something more ritzy – anything goes, as you’ll see from some of the photos in in this post.
My taste varies wildly, I love classic rectangular shaped bags in neutral shades if I’m going to an event or I’ve seen a photo from the era and am trying to recreate it (not as uncommon as you might think), but I also love novelty prints, fun shapes and slightly quirky bags, especially in summer. My experience has been that novelty prints are harder to find when it comes to wintery bags, but I was very lucky recently – one of the lovely ladies that I buy a lot of my bags and hats from had this, Enid Collins-style pheasant bag, which matches my Collectif Pearl coat perfectly (I swear, if I could wear this coat 24 hours a day, I would).
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Alas, the coat is currently out of stock on the Collectif website, but if you pop in your email address, you’ll get a notification when it’s back in.
This particular lady has a shop called Elegant Era in Harrogate, and it’s a little cave of vintage wonders – as well as true vintage hats and bags (lots and lots of true vintage hats and bags), you can find vintage style dresses and accessories, so there’s something for everyone. If we’re being completely candid with each other, if I could live in the shop, wearing my Collectif Pearl coat, I probably would. (Instead, I shall content myself with visiting every few months and pretending I’m not weird.)
Another lady I buy a few of my bags from (ok, more than a few) is Jools the Vintage Bag Lady. During the Miss Vintage UK final this year (more on that another time), I actually referred to her as my handbag dealer. Onstage. Right before my hat almost fell off. And that, my friends, is why I’m carving out quite a niche for myself as the exception to the rule that ‘vintage = glamour’. And why I now always wear too many bobby pins when be-hatted.
I first met Jools shortly after I broke my first ever vintage handbag. Lesson learned – be kind to vintage bags, and for goodness’ sake, don’t overload them. So, I was in the market for a black bag, and one of my friends directed me to Jools’ Facebook page. While she specialises in 1960s, she can get hold of pretty much anything you ask for. Example: I took a fancy to a red vanity case that I saw on a TV show, and asked her if she might be able to source me one while she’s out and about. She replied to my message with photos within 10 minutes. Pretty sure she has a TARDIS full of handbags ensconced in her spare room. The red vanity case was my night-before-my-wedding, morning-after-my-wedding and honeymoon bag, and now I’m going to turn it into a memory box. I think. If I can bear not to use it again.
Image: Street Style Carousel
But this is my favourite of my Jools bags – an incredibly cool, much-bigger-on-the-inside leaf shaped bag. I get many, many questions when I take it out, and I can’t answer a single one of them. But, even though it makes me look daft, I love it just the same. Before Christmas last year, I was browsing Facebook (as you do), and happened to see it and show it to my husband. He sneakily bought it, because he’s lovely, and pretended to be sad for me when I was disappointed it had sold, because he can also be a sod.
And yes, that is another Collectif Pearl coat. It’s now too small, which means selling lots of things on eBay and buying another without getting rid of the first one was justified. I think.
There still seem to be a fair few vintage bags around, which is good news. If you’re in the market for one, here are some of the places I’d recommend (this is no exact science – as I mentioned in my last post – and will continue to do in my next ones – sometimes you might get lucky and find a few things you like, other times you might not):
Facebook selling pages – I have found some absolute quackers…I mean, crackers…on Facebook selling pages, including this novelty duck bag.
Sorry, I’m doing terrible puns and we don’t even really know each other yet. This poppy bag also came from a Facebook selling page – you can’t tell from the photo, but the bag itself is sparkly and the poppy is embroidered – it’s a bit special.
I’ve also found a few bits and pieces on eBay, including a seashell shaped wicker bag, which fits in an entire picnic and a purse.
Check out charity shops too (I found what I think is a 1940s handbag for £3.75 a couple of weeks ago), and you might find a bargain or two on etsy if you’re lucky.
Next on my list? A lucite bag to finish off my Christmas party outfit…now I just need to double check behind the sofa for £15o.