I once saw a documentary on handbags that suggest that etymology of the word 'purse' comes from the Peruvian word for uterus. At the time this struck me as particularly apt, considering how attached women can get to this cumbersome sack we insist on hauling around absolutely everywhere. And when I bought my current handbag, with its bright, womb-red lining, I couldn't help but be reminded of this charming little fact.
If a man happens across this article he might be thinking, what's the big deal? A bag is just a bag, right? What is there to get so emotional about?
He's obviously never suffered the horror of buying a handbag only to realise the handles are too small to fit over your shoulder and you're forced to carry it on your arm crook for the remainder of its life-span (which, let's face it, is limited). Our handbags have a place in our hearts that's hard to articulate, and the womb comparison really isn't so far fetched if you've ever seen a woman separated from her bag, or worse, watching her handbag being searched through by an unsuspecting man.
We need our bags. Sure, they're heavy, it's impossible to find anything in them, and we tend to get tired of looking at them about 3 minutes after we buy them, but they're a necessity, right?
In the past I was vaguely suspicious of any woman who didn't have a handbag. There's something almost sacrilegious about not carrying one, and I felt it raised a few questions about her character. Are her worldly goods so organised that this bulky sack is unnecessary? Where does she keep her spare pens, loose tissues and lip glosses that have lost their lids and subsequently have crumbs and grass stuck to the hairy wand? Does she think she's better than me? (And why is there grass in my handbag?)
I've been thinking that it might be time for a change. I've decided to see if I can be rid myself of this awkward sack and go minimal for a while (and, frankly, the uterus analogy has kind of turned me off my handbag).
And it turns out I'm not the only one looking to downsize. The runways were a-wash with sleek, zippered rectangles of clutch-able practicality. The likes of Acne, Phillip Lim, and Jil Sander are all in on the act, offering a nifty array of flat, neat, clutches, big enough to store the essentials, but at best no more than a stylish handful. The perfect size to tuck under your arm, choose the right colour and treatment, and this little baby will take you from day to night with ease.
Buttery soft, clutch-able bliss comes in a plethora of styles by 3.1 Phillip Lim, from chic utilitarian green to shearling-dipped black (find 3.1 Phillip Lim clutches in store at Calexico). Jil Sander's Vasari clutch is a not-so-subtle reference to the simplicity of your school days—it's virtually indistinguishable from your lunchtime brown paper bag. Anya Hindmarch's Huxley clutch is folded, zipped perfection (find it at Jean Brown), while the Marni printed Pouchette offers some sweet oriental flavour (also at Jean Brown).