7 Signs of Bag-Lady Chic: A Confession in Photos

My partner Sara says I’m a bag lady.  Though she hasn’t indicated it’s terminal, she insists it’s a sickness, maybe even a curse.  (I think, she exaggerates.)

I’ve written before about my advanced luggaging skills.  I’ve even composed  “A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Better Bag Lady.”  I’ve posted about over-packing–both in the contexts of  travel and moving.

Bottom line–I know bags.

However, I’ve never confessed the embarrassingly large number of purses and pouches I possess.  And I’ve not, until now, shared images of those carry-ables.

So, today I offer up my guilt, a  coutured confession, of sorts.   I’ll even itemize it in images, bringing you 7 Signs of Bag Lady Chic.

1.  The dress-up purse

Sara and I don’t go a lot of fancy places.    We don’t eat out a lot, and we certainly don’t frequent many fine dining establishments.  Plus, we’ve lived in a number of developing countries where the need for beaded bags hasn’t been enormous.  However, there are a number of lovely restaurants in a city like Hanoi, even in a country like Haiti, so, I’ve needed a few.

Every girl needs at least one basic, black bag–

Hand-embroidered, Vietnamese silk–

Another embroidered bag–

2.  The pouch

Sara laughs mercilessly at me, insisting that I, not only have too many bags, but I carry bags within bags.  I think this demonstrates a keen lack of understanding on the part of a woman who wouldn’t be caught dead carrying anything and failure to remember my subsequent need to carry her cash and camera.   I have to put her money and my makeup in something, don’t I?

Beaded, voodoo-inspired, change purse from Haiti–

From Thailand–

From Vietnam–

Another from Vietnam–

3.  The boarding pass and passport purse

Since I tend to fly a lot, I’m a big fan of bags just the right size to hold travel documents.  We’ve all seen  balding, old men with passport pouches slipped over their heads like over-sized necklaces–the ones that scream, “I”m on my first trip over-seas, and I have the passport to prove it.”

The bags I refer to here are variations on that theme, equally convenient and serving the same purpose.  Only these have a little more style and a tad more ethnic funk.

My favorite–

Many-pocketed and most practical–

For summer fun–

Indonesian charm–

Mexican madness–

4.  Big Bag Bonanza

In case you hadn’t already guessed, I tend to carry a lot of stuff.  This causes  a problem every time I go almost anywhere—the grocery store, the gym, my mother’s house across town.  I need a big bag to carry books, notebooks, pens, drinks, phones, wallets, makeup—maybe even a snack.  It all adds up.

Vietnamese volume–

Another embroidered Vietnamese stunner–

A practical purse in my favorite color–

A Thai favorite–

A monster from Mexico–

Indian orange–

The biggest is best in winter wool–

5.  Phone Fun

Things might be simpler if I didn’t have to carry a phone on top of everything else.  I like to keep my smart phone in an easy-to-access, separate pouch.

Bought at the Bangkok Weekend Market–

From Sri Lanka–

From Vietnam–

6.  Book Bag /Laptop Case

When we moved to Vietnam, where there’s not an abundance of reading material in English, Sara bought me an e-reader, afraid I’d bring the inventory of a small university library along for the ride.  However, not even a newer Kindle Fire with its browsing capabilities has cured my propensity to carry a laptop or too many books.  And, unfortunately, I have the bags to prove it.

Ruggedly practical and reader ready–

Yet another book bag–(much to Sara’s chagrin)–

Then there’s the laptop case–again in green–

7.  Doggie Bags and Drink Dispensers

I know most folks don’t traipse the planet, canine companions in tow, but Sara and I, for whatever reason, have moved our mutts with us to the furthest corners of the earth.  And, always, these dogs want water.   It is, indeed, a thirst-inducing, globe-trotting trek we, too often, find ourselves on.  Inevitably, dehydrated dogs demand gear.

Puppy pouch–

Lucy’s backpack–

Doggie drink–

Human hydration–

In case you’re really thirsty–

So, the happily-hydrated and well-bagged bottom line is this–

Sara insists this calls for an intervention.  She thinks she’ll fix me–that she can help me “edit”—her word.

And maybe she’s right–right that the real problem involves my wearing such a surplus of bags–AllAtOnce!

But I’ll allow you to decide.   Am I overly-pursed?  And is this craze for carry-ables–sickness or curse–affliction or crime? 

What do you have too much of?

103 thoughts on “7 Signs of Bag-Lady Chic: A Confession in Photos

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Heather. I would have somehow suspected you had similar taste in totes. I’ve wanted to do this kind of post for ages. Just needed the time to take all of the photos. Glad you thought they were fun. Thanks so much, my friend!


  1. OH My! Know wonder your being accused of being a bag lady!!! LOL! Too Funny.
    There are some really great bags here and they all seem to have purpose, a useful purpose. Another thing is many of them are like souvenir’s, rather then collect things to clutter up your house, which I am sure you do too, bag have a use, for carrying items from one place to another.
    I hope I am not being an enabler? LOL!
    Best you, Jeff


    • Jeff, may I suggest you go back and look at the post again? Sara insisted that I add a photo–that the real issue is my carrying so many bags–ALL AT ONCE! So there is now an additional image at the end, meant to illustrate her point.

      But, yes, you’re right. They serve as a useful form of souvenir–even something in which I can transport other souvenirs. Yikes. Sara may not like that point.

      Thanks for reading–and thanks for ENABLING! Hugs to you———


  2. Do you have a bag to store your bags in when you are not using them? That, I suspect, would be the true sign of a chronic problem. I love your bags. I also understand the need to have the right bag for the job. Perhaps you should remind Sara that you’re not spending $500 apiece for them. Apparently there are people who do.


    • Oh, yes, I’m afraid I do. I think that’s Sara’s point in a round about kind of way–that I put bags within bags–endlessly–hopelessly. So sad. So funny. So lame. So–I guess I’m guilty as charged, my friend!


  3. This is awesome. You do bags like most women do shoes. Which begs the question: Do you have shoes to match all these bags?


    Personally, I have what I refer to as the “black hole.” It is a big bag that is black (shocking, I know) that has one giant pocket. So guess what? EVERYTHING gets lost in there. Not a day goes by that I don’t lament having lost my iPhone/wallet/gum/keys/cherry lime Carmex chapstick…yet everyone knows to advise me to simply “look again.” Then I sheepishly emerge from the black hole with my formerly lost item. Oops.


    • Hilarious–sad–true–the story of my life. I think that’s the curse that inevitably accompanies the benefits of the big bag. If it holds a lot, if it’s big enough, then that, in reality, translates into deep and dark–the black hole of hand bags. All big bags become black holes. And–I do have a big, black Coach bag–just couldn’t include all bags in this post.

      Love this comment. We must share some big-bagged DNA, Mikalee.


  4. Wow Kathy! You do indeed have an enormous collection of worldly bags!!! I am jealous as I love them too!!! I have quite a few from Nepal perhaps my favorite ones. I would go crazy buying them too!! Great post!!!!


  5. You do have a number of bags.. don’t you…I would call you a ‘collector’…yes that’s it …some people collect antiques, cameras, etc….you ‘collect’ bags…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 🙂


  6. Ohmygosh! I’m laughing my buns off! You have enough purses to outfit an entire zip code! Lucy’s backpack is far and away my favorite.

    (Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone, but I own one purse. Yes, you read that correctly o-n-e purse. It’s a well-thoughtout, small, black “Baggallini” that has a place for everything, so I can keep everything in its place)…


    • So happy to hear this made you laugh, Laurie. I can imagine your chuckling over this–especially since you own only one! OMG! This post must be abosolutely hilarious to you! Yes, the old Baggallini! Thank God everything has a place. Thanks for reading. Your amusement has made my day!


  7. You crack me up! The Imelda Marcos of bags? Like Laurie above, I’m a one-purse woman (my turquoise bag with some sassy bling–goes with everything in my turquoise closet, and I’m not forever transferring things between or among bags, or forgetting the things I meant to transfer)… But that description alone tells you that I haven’t ALWAYS been a one-bag lady, so there IS hope for “recovery”… (Sara will be glad to hear that, right?) Perhaps we should begin a “Purses Anonymous” group? 😉


    • Darn–wish I had thought of that line for my post, Kana–the Imelda Marcos of bags. That’s utterly purse-perfect!

      I will share with Sara that there’s hope for recovery. Clearly, I’m powerless here! A group may be just the ticket!


  8. No need for an intervention! I don’t have bag issues but my baby girl does. Her collection can’t rival yours, but she’s only 20 and hasn’t been around the world yet. Give her time… Sadly I’ve passed on my shoe addiction to her, so she is now doubly weighted. But you can never have enough of a good thing. And those are some great bags!


    • Thank God you don’t think an intervention is called for! Glad you enjoyed the bags, but I’m sorry to hear of your daughter’s struggle. I’d say the double-whammy could be a bit of an issue in years to come. However, there’s always hope, right? So great to hear from you today, Julie!


  9. Okay, so I laughed hard when I saw the photo of all your bags in a group. But oh, what lovely bags they are!!! Each one tells a story. 🙂 Don’t you dare feel bad about being a bag lady. xoxo


    • Ha,ha! So tickled to hear you laughed. It is funny, isn’t it? And thanks for recognizing the stories they each tell! I knew there was a reason I loved you–the ability to recognize a good bag lady when you see her!


  10. OH MY GOD! I am TOTALLY in love with your purse collection! I want every single one. Do you think Jim will fund a trip to Vietnam just to get a purse? LOL.


    • Hell, Sista, skip the trip to Lexington. Let’s meet up in Hanoi! Think Jim would buy my ticket, as well? What if I call him Jimmy?LOL So happy to hear you like my purses! Hugs to you, dear heart!


  11. I had a similar bag “issue” before, Kathy. In my heady thrift store days, there were always GREAT bags available for between 50 cents and a dollar. I had so many of them but gradually had to whittle them down to 2 between all of our moves and our tiny apartment lifestyle.

    I love all of the ones from Thailand and Viet Nam! My mom brought me back some gorgeous bags when she lived in Thailand for 15 months… those were the bags I kept. They were too beautiful to part with.

    I loved your photos and descriptions of all these bags. It makes me laugh to think that you are ACTUALLY a bag lady! The photos prove it! 🙂


    • Yes, Dana, I’m a bag lady in the most literal sense, perhaps. I understand the need to whittle. I’ll have to do that if we ever decide to actually sell our house. We’ve been lucky so far–able to keep it, even though we’ve lived elsewhere.

      Didn’t know your mom lived in Thailand. Where?

      Glad you got a laugh. By the way–I LOVE thrift shopping, too!


  12. They’re all very nice bags, and most are quite colorful and packed with personality — much like their owner. Yet, until I was 40 I followed Sara’s lead and bent over backward to avoid carrying a satchel. It finally became necessary when I had a meeting with an exec at Miramax. My gf at that time suggested that I’d look like “an idiot” if I attended the meeting carrying my script the way I intended to do so, in a grocery bag. Her taunting prompted me to finally break down and invest in a satchel. From that point on I’ve always carried a medium sized messenger bag. Yet, that’s it with bags and me. Besides, I live in a garret no bigger than a thumbnail so it’s imperative that I’m uber minimalist. I have no place to put much of anything since my priority possession is a bed the size of Texas.


    • Thank God, you were adviced against the paper sack–that would have, indeed, been lame, I’m afraid. I’m also wondering if you might consider down-sizing the bed. Wouldn’t one say the size of Arkansas be sufficient? Or Deleware? Baltimore is a good-sized city.

      Seriously, thanks again for the good comment laugh this morning. You always deliver, my friend. By the way, the Miramax meeting sounds exciting. Was it? And did they appreciate the satchel?


      • That meeting was so long ago it was when the Brothers Weinstein still ran the operation. The exec I met with was laid off when they downsized, but the meeting was very pleasant. I think she’s quit the film industry. As for what she thought of my satchel, I don’t think it fazed her, but possibly she would have agreed with my ex and might have assumed I was an idiot from the get-go had I arrived with my usual shopping bag.

        Downsize my bed? Never! That’s the one constant in my life!


      • It still sounds amazing. But thank God you didn’t show up with the paper bag! About the bed–actually I understand. Sara and I are desperate to get a king, as our canine companions take up so damn much space. Our bed-literally gone to the dogs.


  13. I love Lucy’s backpack! I’d get Reggie one, but I don’t think he’d fit. 🙂

    When it comes to bags I follow the Boy Scot motto: always be prepared. You never know what you’re going to need to have with you and you might as well carry it all in something fun and unique.


    • You follow my philosophy exactly. I think that belief might actually be the source of all my bagging issues–the “just in case” philosophy. Ha, ha–“case”–that wasn’t intended. I think you may be right about Reggie not fitting in the bag. Darn!


  14. Number 3 bag number 1 ( the pink one ) looks just like one I have here except mine is red .. I wish I could get a bag big enough for Chaos , Lucy looks so cute in here back pack ! Xx Kel


    • Like “Reggie”–above–I suppose Chaos would struggle to fit into a Lucy-sized bag. I have to tell you though–it sure is a convenient way of traveling with her. Glad you like the pink bag, Kel! Great to hear from you. Hugs——-


  15. Hm, I have to say you are guilty as charged, but it seems a fun and harmless affliction. Imelda Marcos had her shoes, and you have your bags. It’s your signature style – and they ARE funky bags.
    My friend’s Dad had a hankering for hats, and actually made a whole wall display out of them. You could turn your bags into a form of art display, give them a dual purpose for when not in use? Just a late night thought!


    • I actually love the idea of using the bags as an art installation. Truly, that could be really fun. But then I clearly love “funky.” Thanks for reading Deanna. Hope you have a great weekend in NYC!


  16. I like your bags. I really like the picture of you wearing all of your bags. 🙂

    Honestly, I totally get it. Though I only have two, they are my favorites. One big, one small. Wonderful, colorful. They can carry a lot or a little. I was sad though one day when my room mate lent me her back pack since I walk almost everywhere… it was practical. I knew she was right. I smiled politely and felt sad that it was in fact the wisest choice to trade in my afghan totes for a bit in exhange for the ever so practical back pack.

    Anyway, again, great bags! I’m glad you have so much color to choose from each day and they all look like they have at least a few equally as colorful stories attached to them. 🙂

    Have a great night,


    • So glad you liked the bags. When I lived in Dallas during the late 1990s without a car, I used a backpack, as well. It was the only practical way to function. There will be time and space for fun bags down the road, Currie. I promise. Thanks for reading.. Great to hear from you, dear heart! Hugs———-


  17. Kathy, I love all your bags! They’re so creative and wonderful keepsakes of where you’ve been. I especially like that coin purse from Haiti. I have a few bags like yours, but I think you can open a bag museum. What a fun post!


    • I’m tickled you appreciate both the post and the bags themselves. The coin purse from Haiti is truly cool, but, actually, strangely heavy. I suppose from all of the beads. Happy Tuesday, my friend.


  18. I totally need to show this to my husband. He thinks *I* have too many bags.

    However, almost all of mine are black nylon – different sizes and shapes – but all black nylon.


  19. What a fun post! I enjoyed the various colors & fabrics but my favorite has to be the Voodoo purse & Lucy’s backpack :).

    Does your back ever get sore?

    What do I have too much of? Lipsticks, necklaces and books! MJ


    • I, too, have too many books. And, actually, that’s a great question. My back sometimes gets sore on one of my 30 hour trips to SE Asia, when I have Lucy on my back and luggage to deal with. But just to go across town, it’s not a problem.


  20. I don’t even “do” purses, bags, bags in purses….but some of those were down right snazzy. I love your love of color.


  21. Love you Kathy- but the thought of bending over and all of those purses falling forward and knotting up gives me GI distress. AHHH! The process of fighting for space to place around me, under and over me, and THEN not leaving one behind undoes me. What`s left of me cries in pain at the thought of untangling to go through security, take off shoes, maybe a belt buckle, explain a bra strap, and then get wanded. (I am always pulled out of line for additional screening- now a family joke) I`m already sweating.


    • Oh, God, Emily, I am totally hopeless going through security. I’m sure the TSA, not to mention the poor folks in line behind me, hate to see me coming. YIKES! And, I, too–always get extra screening. I must look guilty of something with all of those bags!


  22. You are NOT overly pursed! You are fashionable! I found myself oohing and ahhing over your colorful array of bags! I don’t have nearly as many, but I definitely share your appreciation!


    • So happy to hear you like my bags, Terri! And thank God you don’t think I’m overly-pursed. I’ll share your perspective with Sara. But, I bet she won’t be swayed from her perspective. Alas!


  23. As a non-purse person, I am heartily amused and amazed! I’m with Sara. I don’t carry bags and my partner carries my wallet and keys in hers. But I do think your bags are lovely and especially like the beaded voodoo change purse. If I was to carry a purse, I would probably choose the practical purse in your favorite color. I did recently purchase a canvas messenger bag (in your favorite color) at a thrift store for our trip to the beach so I had something to put shells in other than my pockets. It’s my only bag. I will probably not use it again until next year. This was just an awesome, fun post, Kathy!


    • Oh, I’m so pleased you enjoyed this post, Tori! I used to love shopping for bags at thrift stores. But you bring up something else I should probably write about–my crazy obsession with shelling! I adore shells!


  24. What an amazing collection! I love every single one!! The beaded ones are each beautiful works of art. I don’t think I’d get rid of a single one, especially when seen together. And besides, it seems every one has a story behind it and that is the stuff dreams are made of 🙂 Now I think I’ll look for a second hand shop or Good Will store on my walk to the laundromat today to see if I can find anything funky and chic, Oh wait… I’m supposed to be writing. Shockingly it seems I’ve been sucked into the wonderful world of blog again this morning! But I’m so glad I got to see your collection! 🙂


    • It’s all too easy to get sucked into blog-reading. I know. But I’m sure happy you stopped by my blog. Great to hear from you today. Good luck at the thrift store. I love thrifting. Hope you get some great writing done, as well.


  25. Pingback: Just What is all the Fuss with Handbags / Purses? | bridgesburning

  26. Thanks for sharing your awesome collection with us. I have several Small pouches that I love.Sometimes I carry several bags at once and then I feel like a bag lady. But I’ll never agree that you can have too many.


  27. Oh Kathy, is that really Lucy in the bag over your shoulder? After you’ve lugged around all that weight, it’s a wonder you don’t suffer from dropped shoulders! (Assuming you don’t, as there’s no mention here…)

    I’m sorry to be a meany, but I tend to agree with Sara here. *sorry* I do love your bag collection though. Everyone collects something, right? And you can change your bag for each occasion, so you’ll never be bored with the same bag. It’s just the thought of the inconvenience of lugging everything, everywhere!

    Good luck, Sara! You know I love you both! xxx


    • Yes, that is Lucy in the bag on my back. Sometimes my shoulders get a bit sore on long trips, but on shorter ones, I’m fine. And, I have to agree with you, I’m afraid, I DO have few too many bags. I know. It’s sad. We love you too, Joanne. You are a sweetie! Hugs——–


  28. Wow! That’s a lot of bags! They are all so colorful and lovely, though, I don’t think I’d be able to part with any of them if they were mine. My mother used to have lots and lots of bags for various things. I think if you can explain their use, it’s not an affliction. It’s practical. 😀


  29. wow – I certainly don’t have as many as you do, and I tend to just use one till it dies. I do see the beauty in your collection though. They are really pretty


  30. No time to read all the wonderful comments, but I have a fair number of bags myself. Though a lot of them are of the canvas tote variety (for car travel … they’re great for organizing!). 😉 I’d say no, you don’t have too many … Sara has too few! 😆


    • Yes, there’s more text in comments than in the post itself. Glad folks enjoyed this piece so much. LOVE the notion that Sara has too few bags! Brilliant! Can’t wait to pass that info on to her!


  31. I was oohing and aahing with every picture. Love your style!

    I’m a one purse kinda gal. I keep everything in a red leather job that holds my wallet, eyeglass case, and a pouch for lotion, aspirin, chapstick, ect… Depending on what errands I’m running, I can sometimes get away with just ID and debit card in my front pocket and phone in my back pocket. Easy peasy!


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