Where to find chic cross-body bags – and how to look after them

— by Alyson Walsh

Photo: Claire Pepper for the Telegraph

I’m rarely separated from a cross body bag these days; sometimes I even carry one indoors, at home (so that I know where my essentials are #thatismyage). No surprise then to find online searches for crossbody bags are apparently over a thousand times greater than last year. Keeping hands-free is a necessity now that we all have to factor in hand sanitisers and face masks, when we’re on the go. Not to mention standard winter paraphernalia (gloves, tissues and lip balm), and of course, we can never be without our phones. No-one wants to be faffing around with impractical or bulky bags. Keep it simple and keep everything close at hand. The practical, chic cross body is the way to go for easy, everyday style.

The cross body bag I’m carrying in the first photo is by small sustainable brand M.Hulot (this was loaned for the Telegraph shoot), made and crafted in England from vegetable tan leather. Below is a saddle bag from LPOL (formerly known as Lost Property of London), an independent label run by husband and wife team Katy and John Maskell Bell. Who create upcycled and ethically-minded leather goods with an emphasis on responsibility, sustainability and zero waste production. They very kindly gifted me the gorgeous Arlington in Berry, (I know, I am spoilt) which has rapidly become the cross body bag of Covid Winter 2. The lovely colour goes with everything and offsets my wardrobe of navy, khaki green, denim and tweed, beautifully.


Photo: Clara Molden for The Daily Telegraph.


Here LPOL co-founder, John Maskell Bell, shares his five top tips for making leather bags last longer:

To keep your bag in the best condition, we recommend applying a high quality natural leather balm or cream every few weeks. It’s vital to keep good moisture in the leather to keep it supple and ensure the leather does not dry out. Before you begin, clean the surfaces of your bag with a damp cloth, and leave for a few minutes to dry naturally. To apply the balm use a soft dry cloth, and apply in circular motions over all surfaces. Once completely coated leave to soak in for 20 minutes and then use a clean, dry part of the cloth to remove any remaining residue and polish the leather to a discreet shine (this is called buffing).

We recommend waxing the edges and stitching on your bag to keep them resistant to water. You can buy 100% beeswax products online or in good shoe repair shops. Apply to all stitching and edges with your fingers or a sponge or cloth, and leave to absorb (no need to buff).

In the same way as you would with a pair of good leather shoes, we recommend stuffing your bag to help keep its shape. Use acid-free tissue paper to draw out any unwanted damp and moisture. We especially recommend doing this after wearing your bag on a wet day.

If you’re hibernating a bag for the season, or if you’re packing it for holiday – remove all contents and store in a cotton dust bag. This helps protect the leather from dust and scratches. If you don’t have a dust bag you can use a cotton pillow case or cotton tote.

Don’t forget to clean the inside too. If your bag is unlined we recommend removing all the contents and brushing it out to remove dust and dirt. Then simply use a damp cloth to gently scrub the interior surfaces. Leave to dry naturally. If your bag is lined, use a damp cloth with a little pea-sized dot of natural fabric conditioner and lightly scrub to remove dirt and stains. Leave to dry naturally.


Other small independent bag labels I love, include: Mimi Berry (our collaboration cross body bag sold out – twice. And a new order of 10 bags will arrive the second week in December. Place your orders, now!), M.Hulot, Kate Sheridan and Ally Capellino.


And more chic crossbody bags, here:


Please note that affiliate links used may gain a small commission for That’s Not My Age.


Style Notes

Photo 1 was taken last year so not all products are available: Jumper and matching scarf are from Toast. Organic cotton trousers by People Tree. Hiking boots are by Grenson, available in khaki leather HERE. Cross body bag from M Hulot (currently sold out in tan leather but available in Prussian Blue or black leather HERE).

Photo 2: Ondina tweed jacket, is Weekend Maxmara from Fenwick. Blouse from a selection at Fenwick. Arlington saddle bag, LPOL. Jeans are my old Levi’s 501s. Alpe cowboy boots by Aspiga. Gold plated Duet Earrings, Bar Jewellery.

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