I seem to have read a lot about handbags of late. By way of explanation I had a baby in September so I don’t get out much. Aside from my baby, low rent TV and magazines are pretty much my main sources of entertainment. According to my admittedly pedestrian sources we’ve had quite a few handbag related stories and incidents in recent months. Harriet Harman huffily proclaimed that she’d never spent more than £5o on a bag. Thousands of people who clearly had very little else to do queued for hours on end for a £5 Anya Hindmarch “I’m Not a Plastic Bag” tote, and Grazia magazine seems to wet itself on a fairly regular basis over the latest “It” bag. Its official – bags are the new shoes. Er, so to speak.

My own relationship with handbags has been an on/off one. I own a lot of bags. Some are cheap, some are what I like to call investments. Not that it’s relevant now because (and I suspect this is the fate of most “must have” bags) they’re now all stuffed in a cupboard. On the rare occasions that I do leave the house the only thing that can be seen dangling from my arm is my sons changing bag and, possibly, a string of dribble. It is for this reason, among others, that I will never own an It bag. I can’t pretend there’s not a part of me that wouldn’t like to. In the fantasy version of my life (oh come on we’ve all got one) I’m always thin, effortlessly well dressed and fabulously accessorised. This vision inevitably includes the sort of exquisitely stitched, soft-as-butter leather bag that just screams cash. Or, back in the real world, credit. Apparently, the mean average cost of a handbag in Selfridges is now somewhere in the region of £800.

I will never own an It bag because I think spending £800 on a bag is quite silly. I mean, you could do a lot with £800 right? When did women (and it does seem to be women that all of these “must haves” are aimed squarely at) start to think that this was normal? Probably around the same time that people started listing “shopping” as a hobby. What we buy now seems to define who we are. I have to say I find this quite depressing and it is one of the reasons I will never own an It bag.

Another reason I will never own an IT bag is that, well, I’m not that fashionable. I like nice clothes but I’m always behind the fashion curve. I’m still wearing bootleg jeans dammit because they flatter my big English bottom. Even if I could afford to spend £800 on an It bag, I would inevitably buy one that was coming towards the end of its days in the sun (Kate Moss wouldn’t have used hers for months) and it would therefore by definition be no longer an It bag. More of a Was bag. I think an It bag would look silly on me as well. Some oversized Balenciaga number dangling precariously on my forearm would look odd as I am decidedly fatter than Posh Spice or Nicole Ritchie. Skinny arms seem to be essential to carry off the big bag look. Mind you, if bags continue to get bigger and arms get skinnier we could be in trouble. There’s no use spending £20k on a bag that you can’t pick up.

If I didn’t know better and wasn’t really paranoid I’d say that It bags were just another way for the fashion industry to make women feel inadequate. Not satisfied with distorting the perception of what constitutes a normal female body down to a size zero, the fashion houses have now managed to persuade us that unless we have spent upwards of £1000 on a bag to “complete the look” we are somehow lacking. Of course it’s everyone’s right to spend their money how they wish but, given the record amounts of debt being clocked up by young women in the UK, I have to question what the hell is going on? Have we collectively taken leave of our senses? I fear that we have. I will never own an It bag to strike a blow for sanity.

Penny, Berkshire

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