The first time I attended New York Fashion Week (which begins tomorrow, or already began, depending on whose schedule you’re on) after moving to the city, I carried a Celine Luggage Tote. That was several years ago, right when the Luggage Tote had reached the height of its unobtainability, and I had acquired the bag by paying for it six months in advance, in full, over the phone, sight unseen. I never ended up using it very much, but if it was going to make an appearance anywhere, it was definitely at Fashion Week, where I still felt a bit like I was faking it in a sea of people who truly belonged. (Before long, you realize that absolutely everyone feels like they’re faking it unless they have genuine delusions of grandeur.) (Some of them do.) Not even those insiders could get their hands on this bag, though, which made me frequent fodder for the street style photographers who prowled the fountain area outside of Lincoln Center.
That’s when I learned something that I had always suspected to be true: it’s completely possible to disappear behind your handbag, if the bag is good enough. My outfits were an utter mess, which I knew at the time but know even more vividly now, but that didn’t matter to anyone because I had the bag, the bag, that everyone wanted to look at. Even though the accessories industry is without a reigning It Bag of the moment, a great handbag is still the best way to get your picture snapped, if that’s your goal, but it’s also a great way to pull together a simple outfit in everyday life and make it seem special. That’s all those “fashion people” are doing, after all. Below, check out the best bags to wear for flinging yourself in front of photographers or re-wearing that shirt you may or may not have already worn to work on Monday.