Lanvin Madame Lanvin Shoulder Bag, $2485. Lanvin Runway Tortoise Bag, $3850. Both via Neiman Marcus.

For me, the most interesting element of tiny, structured bags like the Lanvin Madame Lanvin Shoulder Bag and Lanvin Runway Tortoise Shoulder Bag is the discipline required to carry one. Long have most of us been accustomed to dumping everything we might need into our handbags and lugging that stuff with us all day; the big-bag trends of the last five years gave us that luxury.

Now that things have swung back in the complete opposite direction, you’re required to carefully plan and pack your possessions in order to successfully carry one of these bags. Having shlepped bags both big and small, I can resolutely say that I’d rather carry a little bag with only a couple of things any day.

I used to be of the school of thought that I’d never fit my worldly possessions into something smaller than a Balenciaga Day Bag. Never! But then I realized that when I change my bags, the only things I actually end up moving around are my keys, card case, billfold, cell phone and sunglasses. That’s it. The rest of the junk that accumulates in a bag I’ve been wearing for a few weeks is just that – junk. It unnecessary, and it only accumulates because the giant bags I carried had space to accomodate it.

I realized all of this when I purchased the Alexander Wang Isis Clutch, which is, by my own admission, one of the least functional bags on the face of the planet. It’s difficult to get into, the structure makes it hard to carry anything more than an inch thick, I have to position my cell phone just so inside the interior pocket or the bag won’t fold over and shut. BUT IT’S SO PRETTY, YOU GUYS. So pretty, and I got it for something like 65% off, and I’ve never once regretted it.

Just like with these lovely Lanvin pieces, it requires a moment of thought before I start packing it, and for most of us, that might not be a bad moment to be forced to take. Unless you have very small children, you could probably do without most of what weighs you down on a daily basis, if you were honest with yourself and took the time to plan. Trust me, it’s freeing not to have to stuff a beautiful bag full of things you don’t actually need. In accessories, as in other areas of life, practice self-awareness. Buy through Neiman Marcus for $2485 or $3850.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • rose60610

    Paring down takes discipline, but it’s one of those things you feel better for doing. I think wearing a bag in a moderate size looks far more polished than lugging a bag that could hold a bushel of items. I realize that there are those instances where it’s necessary to wear a larger bag, especially if work, etc, keeps you out all day. I’m petite and large bags can overwhelm me, so I’m biased for smaller bags.

  • Sandra Rowley

    While I love the bags, my sunglasses case will not fit it either of them. I carry the essentials to me….and my essentials are not going to fit into anything smaller than my Balenciaga City Bag.

  • lintmag

    I attempt the paredown, but it never seems to work. Besides the usual wallet, keys, sunglasses, I take a tiny cosmetic bag, envelope with coupons, reading glasses, hanky, small notepad, and often throw in a mag or book to read if stuck on the train or in a waiting room.
    Overflow for the small bag!

  • Jackie

    Years ago I used to carry everything that would fit into my bag just in case I’d need it. And then an extra pair of sunglasses in case I decide later that I don’t want to wear the first pair. Everyone knew I had everything in my bag from pain killers to Neosporin and q-tips to tampons — if they ever needed anything. Got a headache? “Go to Jackie!” Basically, I hardly used any of these things and I was everyone’s medicine cabinet. It doesn’t help that it was quite a load to carry on my shoulders because I’d also have a bottle of water and sometimes two.

    Now, I try to be very minimal because I can always buy whatever I need. Although I’m paying more (I’ll have to buy band aids at the drugstore twice a year? So worth it!) to carry less, it’s a good trade off because it lets everyday be that much more stress-less. And if I need something I used to carry in my bag, it’s usually worth it to just deal until I can buy it when I get out of class/work. I’ve been just fine without all my just in case things.

    It feels really good to carry my just my wristlet or clutch which holds my mens “magic wallet,” my keychain, phone, and a lip balm. THIS is freeing!

    Oh but back to the bag, I really like the tortoise bag! NM doesn’t provide dimensions of the bag but although it is very structured, more so than I’m used to, it still seems larger than what I usually use. I think you, Amanda, and I are the few who would fare quite well with such Lanvin bags. Cheers to minimalism!


    good nice to share with us. love , love for the handbag.

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  • J Umm

    liking this quite a lot, the design is original and the detailing of the geometrics make a great bag
    great post!

  • Amy

    The one on the left makes my heart flutter. Is it available to check out in person? I chatted online with NM but they said it’s only an online purchase. :-(

  • Amy

    I can’t stop thinking about this bag…

  • AW

    The Tortoise bag is my favorite. It offers up something different and at that price point, you deserve something special.