I have proclaimed that I don’t baby my handbags in previous articles, and while I still believe that is partially true, I think there is more to the story. When I say I don’t baby my bags, I mean that I am a firm believer that bags are meant to be worn and enjoyed. When I first started collecting bags, I rarely took them out of their dust bags. In college, I would take my Rebecca Minkoff Morning After Bag out of the dust bag every night, place her on the bed while I did homework, and wrap her back up carefully before bed. I’ve broken those habits and carry the bags in my collection, but that’s not to say I don’t take extra precautions to keep my handbags safe. Maybe I do baby my bags after all?
I carry what I lovingly refer to as my handbag toolkit. This includes a few extra items that ensure my bag can be preserved and protected while I am enjoying carrying her. I also try to make strategic decisions on which bags to wear when to prevent any handbag heartbreak (for example, I never wear my white bags with jeans or a suede bag on a rainy forecast day). As careful as I am, sometimes I run into unexpected circumstances, which is when my toolkit becomes essential.
Tool #1: My Handbag Hook
I have said it before, and I will repeat it, do not put your handbag on the floor. I believe this to be a cardinal handbag sin, and I honestly get sad when I see pretty bags on the floor. Not only is it super unhygienic, but it can also cause wear and tear on the bottom of your bag a lot quicker, especially if your bag doesn’t have protective feet.
I saw a Louis Vuitton Onthego on the floor of a restroom recently and almost asked if I could clean it myself. But I digress—back to the hook. I purchased this handbag hook in the gift shop at the Museum of Handbags & Purses on a trip to Amsterdam and haven’t looked back since. This little hook is in my handbag at all times, and I use it primarily at restaurants to avoid having to put my bag on the floor. I always love when there is an extra seat for my bag, but that is not always feasible, so the hook is my trusted backup plan. The handbag hook has been my number 1 way of protecting my handbag corners. Corner wear is a handbag pet peeve of mine, so I take utilizing my hook very seriously.
Tool #2: Storage Pouches
Not only are storage pouches an amazing way to organize the belongings inside your handbag, but it is also a way to protect the interior of your bag. I carry many items that could potentially damage the inside of a bag, such as pens, lipsticks, hand sanitizer, and wet wipes. All of these items could melt on hot days or have an accidental leak, but by storing them in a waterproof pouch, I feel that I am adding a layer of security to the interior of my bag. The last thing I ever want to see is a pen explosion inside my bag or a hand sanitizer leak.
I have several different pouches that I rotate between, some more protective than others depending on the weather or what I am taking with me that day. Pro tip: these pouches also make it a lot easier to switch your bags out regularly. I don’t think a handbag lover can ever own too many pouches.
Tool #3: A Good Wipe Down
I want to preface this by saying that you should always spot test anything before putting it on your bag. Most brands of wet wipes have alcohol that could be damaging to your bag, so check the ingredients if you’re going to use one of these in a pinch while you’re out. I’ve used a wet wipe on my bags in emergencies only, as sparingly as possible.
I once had a sticky IPA beer spilled on my Saint Laurent Envelope bag at an outdoor brewery. Before panicking too much, I gave the handbag a quick wipe down, making it look as good as new. However, the best recommendation would be to wait until you get home and use only a damp cloth with warm water, but again, spot test and use your best judgment.
Tool #4: Rain Gear
I live in the suburbs, so I drive almost everywhere. For that reason, I always keep an umbrella and an oversized nylon tote in the trunk of my car in case of unexpected weather. Depending on which handbag I am wearing and how susceptible to rain damage the bag is, I will tuck it into the nylon bag for coverage if needed. I am much more likely to use my nylon pouch for delicate leathers, such as lambskin and suede, than my calfskin bags. For my more resilient materials, I use the umbrella as water protection and call it a day.
Again, I try to check the weather forecast if I am carrying a more delicate bag, but sometimes surprises happen. The nylon tote isn’t something I use regularly, but it brings me peace of mind to know I have it on hand in case of a handbag emergency.[editor’s note: you can also purchase a handbag raincoat which works well for city-dwellers]
Tool #5: Leather Conditioner
I do not carry leather conditioners with me in my bag. However, I always keep a stock in my closet. I try to make it a habit to condition my bags once a year or so to preserve the leather. Leather, like skin, can dry out over time. Doing a yearly condition can help keep the leather soft and shiny, which is important for preservation. I usually set aside a few hours each spring to condition them all at once, which is my version of spring cleaning!
Like the wet wipes, always make sure to do a spot test before conditioning your entire bag. Some leathers won’t like all conditioners, so I always spot test a small corner on the bottom of the bag, let it dry, and proceed once it is safe.
That concludes my handbag toolkit list. After some self-reflection, I think that maybe I do baby my bags more than I originally thought…
Do you have any items you use to protect your bags? I would love to hear about them!