By Barbara Falconer Newhall
The mother of the groom was discombobulated.
There she was, recessing down the aisle after the wedding, her overstuffed evening bag dangling half open from her wrist. Also dangling from her wrist, a camera and a beat-up camera case.
Not a pretty picture.
What gives? Why was this otherwise reasonably-well-put-together lady – that would be me on my
son’s wedding day – so disorganized?
Why didn’t she put all that stuff into one nice presentable evening bag and recess down the aisle like a woman in charge of her life?
Because there’s no such thing as a presentable evening bag that can hold what a woman – a real one – needs to put into her purse these days.
Designers of formal handbags, it seems, are stuck in the pre-women’s movement, pre-digital mid-twentieth century. A tour of Macy’s, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s accessories departments – and my closet – reveals that a typical dressy evening bag is six to ten inches long and a scant one-inch thick.
jewelry sparkles. Her highlights are glowing. She’s planned her make-up for days, and for once her mascara hasn’t caked.She’s ready for a night on the town.
But what about her stuff?
She’s got the twentieth-century usuals, the same things her mother and grandmother tucked into their purses back in the 1950s and 1920s: lipstick, comb, powder. Extra stockings in case the ones she’s wearing get a run. A packet of tissues in case the opera/concert/wedding is a tearjerker. A thin wad of cash – her mad money, as my mother used to call it, in case her beau turns out to be a bad actor.
She’s got all that, but this is 2013, so there’s more.
True, there are no cigarettes to squeeze into that dainty little evening bag of hers. And no lighter.
But there is a cell phone — or maybe a mini iPad. There are the MapQuest directions to the wedding she printed out at the last minute. Also her business cards. Her credit cards (these days she might be picking up the tab). A fat wad of cash (the dollar isn’t what it used to be). And, if she’s in the mood and thinks he might be, protection.
In addition to all that, if she’s me and she’s headed someplace fun, she’s got her camera, a spare battery, a notebook and a pen.
This woman needs an evening bag with girth. Something that is as pretty and dressy as the rest of her outfit. But a handbag of substance, like its owner.
Where’s that bag?
Not in my closet. Not in the department stores of downtown San Francisco.
And, no, not even on line.
On the internet: This Carlo Fellini bag is 8 x 6 x 3.5 inches — and $53.99 at ebags.com. Some — but not all — of the reviewers said they could fit their phones into this one. Nice bag, but way too small for me.
On the internet: Another Carlo Fellini. This one is 6.5 x 5.5 x 2.5 inches — and $33.99 at ebags.com. Pretty and fun, but still too small for my purposes.
On the internet: At LightInTheBox.com, it’s $19.19 on sale as I write. At about 16 x 10 x 4 inches, this one would do the trick size-wise. But with all that glitz, it would steal the show.
I’m still looking. Got any ideas?