I met the ever-talented Linea Pelle designer Andrew Cotton on a shoot for Real Beauty. He was demonstrating his designs and I was being sold. Well, I was working - making sure he was camera-ready - but as I watched, I started realizing how much I wanted a new belt, a new bag, a new everything he was showing. So later I went to Linea Pelle’s showroom to see Andrew and try to find a bag for myself. This was bigger-than-it-should-be undertaking – partly because there were so many to choose from and partly because I’m so picky when it comes to bags. Having had so many over the years, I’ve wasted a decent amount I’ve ended up using once, only to go back to the old comfortable stand-bys. Andrew is more than just a designer. He’s a personality and a person equally talented with people. You know this when you meet him, but it was clearly demonstrated by the time and impressive amount of energy he used to patiently get me through my bag neuroses. Though it was a Friday and he was tired from traveling overseas, he thoughtfully listened to my list of criteria to find exactly what I needed.
Here’s what Andrew had to work with - For me, the perfect bag:
Must be both lightweight and substantial. It has to be substantial enough to not look like the handle’s going to break when I put all my heavy stuff in it. But it has to be lightweight enough that when I put all that stuff in it I’m not wishing I was carrying a lighter bag. Why carry a bag that’s going to strain your back and be heavier than all the stuff you put in it? No matter how cute it is, no matter what kind of shopper’s high I get when I buy it, I know I’ll end up carrying any old ragtag lightweight bag instead. And now that I’m always pushing a stroller I hang my bag on the handle – if the bag’s too heavy it tips the stroller backward. Nobody should be worrying about a baby tipping over in a stroller.
Has a strap that sits comfortably on the shoulder so my hands are free. I can’t stand it if I’m trying to do something but can only use one hand because the bag’s in the way. I don’t mind holding in the crook of my arm if it’s not too heavy, but prefer it be on my shoulder, completely out of the way. I also can’t stand when the handle is so roll-y it won’t stay on my shoulder and I keep having to pull it back up. A flatter strap is best for me. And sometimes two straps are better than one.
Is made of soft leather that wears well with age. Whenever possible, I like things to get better as they age or I feel like I’m throwing money away. Living in NYC I see women who carry new bags each season, but I’m too practical/poor/cheap to buy a really nice bag every season. Plus, if the leather looks better with age, then every season the bag is improving! More importantly, the bag is never bulkier than it needs to be because the supple leather just wraps itself around its contents. I love this.
So what that all adds up to is:It’s a called a Jesse Speedy Small and it’s perfect. Not only does it meet every bit of my picky criteria, it also has this little detachable pouch that clips to the inside for things that need to be easily accessible (such as your keys) and you’re not hunting all over the bottom of the bag looking for them. And there are two zippers - each with a sassy fringe - on each side so you don't have to open the entire bag to slip your hand in to get something. I usually like pretty simple bags, but this bag has just enough touches to give it more style - the zippers, the braiding on the straps, the folds on each side at the bottom.
There’s also a larger Jesse Speedy bag and it can easily carry a laptop and anything else you might need for work, so I was getting stressed worrying about which one to pick (I do realize there are more important things to be stressed about but at the time it was definitely something to stress over). I was even bothering people there - who were working - for their opinions. One said she'd go bigger because she carries a lot of things; another said he preferred the small because he just liked the way it looked. We went back and forth because we all agreed we liked both.
After much deliberation, Andrew decided that the Jesse Speedy Small made me look espeically chic and said something to the effect of “well…you want to stay chic...you don’t want to fall into that ‘mommy thing'”. Which made me laugh because I already have (fallen into that mommy thing). But he had a point. Even if I'm too tired to care about how I look, no matter what size or shape I am, what clothes I can’t fit into, or what makeup I'm not wearing, my Jesse Speedy is still there for me, making me look chic.
Photo by Andrew Cotton.