A Woman Of the Cloth writes in to ask PeaceBang to comment on the mysteries of the Bag, and the issue of purses and briefcases.
PeaceBang feels quite certain that if "Woman" googles this blog, there are some existing posts on purses and bags she might enjoy (PB is quite technophobic and has no idea how to create a blog with categories, although would love to for BTFM). However, since it's come up again, and it is shopping season for next fall, let's gather 'round the PeaceBang campfire and talk about bags, boys and girls!
What Not To Carry:
1. Freebie bags with the names of Good Causes on them.
2. Dirty canvass totes with the adult equivalent of Rainbow Brite or My Pretty Pony graphics on them (e.g. Celtic Knot Logo, Reading Woman With Cat, Save the Whales, Powdermilk Biscuits).
3. Anything straw: too beachy. Unless you're at the beach.
4. Purses and bags made of cheap, shiny fake leather or pleatherette.
5. Anything floral, unless it's very chic and you're wearing an entirely tailored outfit, and even then, I'd be careful. PeaceBang has a fabulous floral bag she bought at the Gap this spring, but it's brown and turquoise and has a braided leather handle, so it's more rock-and-roll than preppy princess.
6. Overstuffed purses that don't zipper because you've jammed them too full. Nothing makes a pastor look more scattered and disorganized than plopping an over-stuffed, gaping purse on the floor at a meeting.
7. An egregiously boring business briefcase.
A few tips:
Shop, shop, shop! Go to T. J. Maxx or Macy's or somewhere else they sell a huge variety of bags and try them on to assure they're a good size and color for you. NEVER buy a bag on looks alone; it should be the right scale for your body and if it's going to function as a briefcase equivalent, it has to be strong, sturdy AND look good on you.
PeaceBang's bags almost all have enough of a strap that she can use them as a shoulder bag, as she hates not having her hands free to greet people, to open doors, or to grab a cup of coffee on the run. Since she has chunky upper arms that are rendered even chunkier by the presence of a coat or jacket, all her purses and bags need to have generous straps. She tries all of her bags on first and carries them around in the store before purchasing. She is very serious about this and can be seen tramping about Marshall's or T.J's two or three times a year with as many as seven bags flung about her person, grimly heading for the mirrors to do the work of discernment. When she dies she will undoubtedly haunt people in this Jacob Marleyesqe* spector, banging purses about herself instead of chains.
Scale is important! If you're chunky, don't carry a petite purse with a tiny strap. It will make you look larger. If you're tiny, don't dwarf yourself behind one of those mega-hobo bags. Leave that look to Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen or Kate Moss.
Hobo bags, since we're talking about them, are all the rage but not really the best choice for a minister. Ministers want something with a cleaner line than a mushy bag with a drawstring opening, but not something so tailored that it's dullsville. PeaceBang would like to put every navy leather purse into a huge pile and have a bonfire for that very reason. NO MORE NAVY! Get something in rich, poppy orange or -- very big this season -- a classy metallic! Gads, how many brown... leather... purses.... oh, excuse me, just thinking about brown leather purses put me to sleep.
PeaceBang has her suspicions about dull brown, but she truly loathes navy purses. There is never any reason to carry a navy leather purse. Have you ever seen a navy cow? You can forgive your grandmother for her navy purses, as she didn't have as many options as you have. Navy is DOWDY. If you wear a lot of navy, carry a taupe bag, or a black bag. Carry a silver bag, or a red bag. Carry an orange bag, or a screaming acid green faux croc bag, or a Carry a Hello Kitty bag, for the love of Jairus' daughter. Let your bags have some whimsy and life to them. And no darling, your bag does not have to match your shoes.
Of course for ladies there is the issue of carrying the laptop and the papers AND the girlie items. PeaceBang is very partial to Nine West, which tends to offer inexpensive bags like in fashionable styles that can function as purse and briefcase. She has a favorite mock-croc bag in cordovan with nice sturdy straps within which she can carry her computer, her bag of cosmetics, her wallet, a book or two, file folders, her cell phone, her i-Pod and a bottle of water. Yes, it gets a little overstuffed. If that's the case, she pops one of her little rock-and-roll purses over her arm for the wallet and make-up and phone and carries the bigger bag in her hand. At times, if the big bag can fit it, she pops the little purse into THAT so she can leave the big bag in the car for quick runs to the store or into people's homes, or out on a date, if she should ever have occasion to go on a date again in her lifetime, but I digress...
PeaceBang does a lot of bag switching, which she understands is not everyone's choice, and she sympathizes. You do not need to switch bags constantly, but you do need at least one classy, strong, clean, presentable briefcase-equivalent and one lovely, classy, interesting, suitable, fashionable purse. Tiny formal clutches stay in season decade after decade, but purses do not. If your purse dates back to 1987, update it. If it's a classic Coach or some other brand with timeless gorgeousness, check the straps to make sure they're not frayed, and clean and oil the leather and the clasps once in awhile to keep it prime as it ages.
For all the reasons mentioned above, PeaceBang does not recommend shopping for bags online. You've got to see how they work on your body, and bags have a nasty habit of looking rich and delicious on line and showing up in the mail looking like the on-line bag's scrawnier, tackier first cousin.
You DO have time to shop for bags, and you SHOULD. It's fun, it's therapeutic, you can try on thousands of them and never take your clothes off, and it's a great way to clear your mind between draining pastoral visits.
Let me know how you do! And give those navy bags to the church fair already!* you should know that the original post said, "Bob Marley." Alert reader Zorra corrected me, and gave me one of the only genuine laughs of the day, bless her heart. - P.B.