M.Hulot bags

At a recent meeting when my book editor asked if I was going to write about bags, I said no. I’ve never really been interested in fancy, look-at-me designer handbags. Paying silly money for leather accessories, to dangle from my elbow, is just not my thing. (And this is obviously why the ‘£300 handbag’ has become so popular, and why Michael Kors has cleaned up). Hands free, that’s me. I’m partial to a cross body bag or shoulder bag, depending on the outfit. Or the size of your chest. As a fan of Faff-Free Style, you will never see me with is a clutch. Tried it once and it’s a miracle I even got to the event without losing the clutch bag, my travel card and my marbles. And once there, I kept spilling my drink. To me, the cross-body is the comfy shoe of the bag family. Chic, reliable and the perfect companion for running around with. Fortunately, my lovely editor has the same viewpoint and so I won’t have to bore on about bags. Bag-free, that’s also fine by me.

mhulotcrossbody bag

This summer I have mostly been using a beautiful sky blue, leather Ally Capellino frame bag, my Village England khaki leather Beamish bag and latest discovery – a navy leather satchel from M.Hulot. Founded by designer Anna Kreeger, M.Hulot is a small British bag company based in London and yes, the name is taken from the fictional character in the wonderful Jacques Tati films ( must watch them again, soon).

While we’re on the subject of book writing, are there any areas/items you think I should cover in Book Number Two? I’m slowly piecing things together and would love to hear your thoughts.

And here’s a small collection of cross body bags. I’m eyeing up the APC:


77 thoughts on “Chic not shouty shoulder bags – and a question for you

  1. Would love to learn some very lightweight bags that look chic, I have arthritis in the shoulders and need something really light. Some tips on that would be great.

  2. Couldn’t agree more, most of my bags are cross body in several colours plus a couple of totes. Very occaisonally I buy a new bag but too be honest I usually get them on eBay where the kind of people who only wear a colour for a “season” are happy to sell their very expensive bag to me for a fraction of the price!
    Things to consider in the new book – being stylish without being thin? Whilst it’s lovely to see more older models out there on the whole they are no more like my size 14-16 body than their younger counterparts!

    1. I agree. It would be lovely to have more tips for the older woman who’s gained weight – bloody menopause! The older models all seem to be slim, and, let’s face it, it’s easier to look good if you’re slim. So some tips for the no-longer slim, please!

  3. I totally agree Alyson. Going “cross body” has also stopped me carrying around unnecessary STUFF – as used to happen with my totes. (My right shoulder is gradually recovering.) Now I know it is chic too, that is a bonus!

  4. The cross body bags are not good for those of us that are shorter. I totally agree we need more current and chic clothing for people size 14 to 16. Tops, t shirts, evening tops, dresses, pyjamas, nighties and everything other garment with a three quarter sleeve would also be welcome and would sell really well. Women over 50 are often keen to cover their arms – even in the very hot weather. It’s so hard finding the right garment for travelling. The 50+ years are a time when so many of us are embarking on cruises and travelling to the warmer aprts of the globe. The clothing manufacturers are missing out on so many sales as they are not catering for the needs of the 50+ woman.

    1. I totally agree Libby. There is so much missing for the more “mature” woman. In addition to stylish clothing, make – up and how to use it also seems geared for the younger woman. Yet, I was at a certain cosmetic counter the other day and the sales person mentioned that they had changed some things to attract the “younger” woman.
      FLIP! Give me a break! Every flipping cosmetic counter already caters to the “younger” woman! No one working the counters even knows how to help us “older” women apply any products. I feel violated walking away looking as though I’m ready to work the streets! And…While I’m ranting…what about magazines! ? I want a magazine geared for more mature women with stylish fashion for all income levels, make – up and how to, interesting articles on activities, travel, decorating our downsized dwellings and not as a NY penthouse either! No!!!! I do not want to read about or see pages filled with how my once youthful bladder can no longer hold thru the night! or the multitude of products for every ache and pain. We are a living, breathing group of women…growing in number daily who don’t even own a rocking chair! STOP acting as though we don’t exist clothing, make-up and magazine people! We are here to stay!

      1. Excellent comment Joyce, it astounds me that the marketers of these products are missing out on a huge number of sales by ignoring a lucrative and growing market. The population in Western countries are ageing and life expectancy is increasing significantly. Women are living longer, healthier lives and want to enjoy this longer life. The company that recognises this and begins cater for the 50+ market will make a fortune.

      2. That’s why I stopped reading fashion magazines. I don’t read them anymore. Why would I allow some moronic monthly publication to dictate how I should dress and then show photos of a twenty-something in what the editors pontificate as “mature”. It’s bullshit. And don’t get me started on the companies that DO cater to mature women. The clothing is boxy and frumpy. No. I do my own thing. I march to the beat of my own drum because my own drum knows what it wants.
        Cosmetics companies? I can’t stand them because of their insistence in using girls that have just escaped the fetal stage to advertise “anti-aging” product. Guess what? Everyone ages. It’s high time the beauty/fashion industries start paying attention to the mature woman..but it won’t happen anytime soon…

  5. I love all of those bags above, especially the yellow…but then again I am a complete & utter bag-lady! 😉
    The thing is, I will only buy something I know the provenance of, I chose carefully & most importantly I keep them for life. I particularly adore vintage designer bags & will save up for years to purchase a specific style. It may be an irrational love but it is sincere – I’m not a fan Michael Kors or indeed following trends.
    Besides a girls gotta have something to carry her crap in right?

  6. I had saved up for a Johnny Coca Mulberry Bayswater (after much careful research) and the clutch broke on my car last month and scuppered my plans for my first proper designer tote.

    I’ve decided I need a new car more than the bag

  7. Some of the British brands are no longer wholly made in the UK. Have a look at the Mulberry bags and you will find ‘made in Turkey’ on most. Jaegar are doing this as well with bags and cashmere coats- made in China. I will invest but I will not pay a premium for a British brand when it is not made here. Happy to give advice on larger clothes as I am a size 18 and have worked in the beauty industry for 20+ years. You name it, I know who stocks it.

  8. I trained as a massage therapist so I only used rucksack style bags. I’ve treated many shoulder injuries brought on simply by lifting or carrying. Rucksacks are great for posture and you’re hands free. Radley sell them in a variety of sizes.

  9. Totally agree about the cross body bag. Now only use these and can justifiably so ‘no’ to my husband when he asks if I have room to carry his ‘accessories’ too (phone. keys, wallet, glass case). Am encouraging him to use his own manbag. This might make an interesting post as suitably sized bags don;t always look so hot on a man.

  10. Please help…I want a stylish bag…that is light material…what about a stylish backpack?
    How about a backpack by Liebeskind?
    What are the real necessities you must have in your bag?
    A good bag is worth it…as I have spent hundreds of dollars on the “lower price” bags that in the long run have added up to hundreds and probably thousands over the years in search of the bag I “never found”.
    I am ready to spend big bucks on “the one”.
    Thanks everyone.

  11. I love bags. Have loads, crammed into a cupboard, all colours, all styles and shapes. Cross-body hard for a short person with decent sized chest. Agreed about clutches, but hard to resist. I still yearn for a red-brown leather clutch I bought in the late 70s and got rid of back in the 80s…golden rule of bags is NEVER LET THEM GO. THEY WILL ALWAYS RETURN TO FASHION. The only time I have really disliked handbag styles was in the early noughties – too silly and small and inconsequential and had to be worn over the shoulder. One day somebody will give me a genuine Birkin bag (dark brown leather) and all will be couleur de rose.

  12. I am also very partial lightweight bags. I prefer Baggallini and a brand called Highway. Both of these brands were founded by women (in the case of Baggallini, flight attendants who couldn’t find practical bags), they are attractive bags in sturdy materials, with lots of well designed pockets. They’re also indestructible and can be washed on the delicate cycle in the washing machine.

  13. Ah. I am a bag lady and do happily spend on what I think will be a classic for me. The first Tods bag I bought 15 + years ago is still a thing of beautiful simplicity and makes me happy whenever I use it. It was worth the cost. I used to like Anya Hindmarch bags but them have become very gimmicky and the after sales service isn’t very good. I’ve tried to get advise from them about replacing a damaged handle but they weren’t interested which considering the bag cost 4 figures isn’t what I would expect. I love a good cross body too and thanks for the introduction to M Hulot. I think it’s time for a new bag.

    Something you could cover in your book is transition dressing when lifestyle and careers change. I made a move from corporate life to study and being a mum and found it quite discombobulating knowing what to wear. I was probably set in my ways but I felt a sense of loss of identity and really didn’t know what to wear to fit in. I think as we get older there are many life changes and being appropriately dressed does make ‘fitting in’ easier. Just a thought!

      1. Hi. No, I don’t know the Handbag Clinic but they look just what I need and I can get to one pretty easily too. Thank you very much for telling me about them.

  14. I have just returned from Milan, (lucky girl I hear you say….yes definitely) where the accessories seem to be the most important part of an outfit . As a chiropractor I nearly always advocate cross body bags as it eases the strain on the shoulders and hence on the back, however there does need to be a stylish one. I’ve noticed in Milan that many have short handles (yay!) and a longer strap to carry across the body…they are simple and simply gorgeous.

  15. Shoes do it for some people, but I love a handbag! For chic and practical cross body handbags, and handmade in England too, try Jane Hopkinson. Her bags are stylish, functional and very well made.

  16. I’m a walking contradiction. On one hand I cannot stand “in-your-face” logo’s on bags, yet, really like the look of the LV Neverfull and the Goyard tote. BUT–I cannot justify the pricepoint. Over the years I’ve purchased many bags and most of them are very understated. I like simplicity. That’s why I LOVE my leather Longchamp bags. I’m also a fan of the nylon Le Pliage bags because they travel well, multitask–you can use them as beach bags then to go out to dinner, AND you can literally throw them in the back of your car. No fuss. There is another brand of bag that I like a lot too: Nat & Nin. Soft leather and very discreet looking.
    I’ve written about bags a few times:
    And, as of late, have been exploring “no-name” bags on Amazon. I”ve been lucky.
    But–I have to say this. I don’t “get” the Michel Kors love. The man rips off every designer bag and yet the “knock off” companies are ostracized. Really????
    In answer to your question. Budget. There are a number of older women who are on limited funds due to retirement or whatever. There is no reason they can’t look great on a limited budget. I think that would be a great topic. Also–don’t stay within the boundaries of “dressing-for-your-age”. Dress the way you want.

    Great post!!!

  17. It may not offer a ton of selection but for everyday I carry a wristlet, amazingly with the right one you can keep your cc , money, a tube of lipstick, and more! I have bags, which I use on special occasions, but for everyday I love my wristlet.

  18. A cross body bag is my choice as I walk with a cane and don’t want to have to fuss with too much to hold onto when I’m out and about. I also simply don’t understand the fascination with Michael Kors bags – they are ubiquitous here but I find them to be too big, too cluttered in appearance and that HUGE logo on everything just sends me running in the opposite direction!
    I second some of the points raised above – more outfits for the older woman who is no longer a stick figure but wants to dress well (3/4 sleeves, no fuss pieces, reasonable prices for those of us on a more fixed income). We seem to be the group that designers overlook the most and yet we are a large part of the consumer base (and often have control of funds and influence over other groups -husands/teens, plus, we often have the money to spend on both clothes and accessories and yet so often what might appeal to us is completely ignored. It is extremely frustrating!

  19. I have a lovely old Ally Capellino frame bag that was a birthday present years ago. I t was expensive and I would never have bought it for myself. I hang it off my elbow or over my shoulder. It is big enough to take a book or a bottle of wine just fits. Good size if you need to carry iPad or A5 diary. Other times I go for tiny – just carry a phone, cards and lipstick. Don’t much like cross-body as they mess up the line, especially as I have a bust. I find rucksacks awkward to find things in. Used to use one for the beach but this year went back to a tote.

  20. With you on not getting the love for bags, This spring/summer’s bag (and probably A/W too) has been a very plain nylon mustard and gray Ecco hobo with a grey leather shoulder strap. It stays put, holds all I need, is lightweight and goes with virtually everything (except pink, but I don’t wear pink often). And it was half-price at just over £50. The top is mustard; the lower half is elephant-gray. I don’t want a fancy pants bag as I have a pre-loved Lambertson Truex and a felt applique Lulu Guinness which is a colourful addition to monochrome/black outfits, although a sensible evening bag might be tempting.

  21. I’m the wrong shape for cross body bags, although I keep being tempted to try. Smythson do a truly lovely mini duffel drawstring cross body bag – but, £££, obviously. I’d like your second book to deconstruct outfits and looks to explain why things work/don’t work. I never seem to learn from experience.

  22. I looked and looked for a small, understated, not gimicky cross body bag last winter. So many were cheaply made, or had too much bling. Finally bought a Mackage bag, made here in Canada. It’s small but fatter than most so everything I need fits into it. Have you noticed how the fashion layouts in magazines now are featuring cross-body bags that way fit up under the models arm? Gad they must be hard to get on and off! I guess the point is that they had to do something different, anything to look new and unusual…even if it is silly.

  23. When I was younger, I longed for the designer “IT” bag of the moment. They were the ultimate status symbol – the gorgeous proof that one had ‘arrived’ in the world. Alas, I couldn’t afford to buy them and whenever I went to New York, I would delight in looking at the counterfeit bags on the street, although something about them just didn’t seem right. Later on in life, I did receive a Chanel bag as a gift and I did buy myself a LV bag, both of which I still have and use. I agree about the clutch – miserable little item – horrible.

  24. I like bags that have proven themselves. For example, bags originally designed with a functional purpose that later inspired a fashionable version. For example, I have a large dark green tote with purple trim (now about 6 years old) from either L.L. Bean or Land’s End that I use often. That is a bag that has become a “purse” for millions.

    I also have an oddly coloured brownish-green fabric bag that I bought at an office supply store a couple of years ago. I think it was designed for men to carry their tablet and other “stuff”. Somehow it goes with almost everything I have that is casual, all four seasons.

    And I have a multi-coloured fabric “ethnic” bag that I bought at a college bookstore. I like the bright lime green lining especially; meanwhile the outside fabric goes with a lot of my grey-navy-burgundy wardrobe.

    Most of my bags can be carried easily and secured with a reliable closure, easy to access as required.

    I should mention that I tend to wear sporty, casual clothing, sometimes with a bit of an folksy flare… and I don’t have a big budget. Someone with taste like Nancy Regean would not like my choices!

    I do have one black leather ladylike purse that I use if I have to look very formal during the day…. rarely now. It looks good but it’s not that functional because you have to carry by hand or dangling off a forearm.

  25. Stylish but comfortable shoes please and preferably flat ties or a slight wedge, taking into account that not everyone has “perfect” feet. My second toe is longer than my big toe plus bunions but do not want to wear orthopaedic type footwear.

    1. Jennifer

      There are lots of brands that combine style and comfort.

      Ecco, Geox, Stockport, Chie Mihara, Clark’s, Taryn Rise and on occasion M&S Footglove.

      Shoon also have a fab website with lots of stylish but comfortable shoes.

  26. Covering what to wear at home that’s attractive yet practical while gardening, cleaning house, etc. would be helpful. I’m retired and feel frumpy while doing things around the home. I have two casual wardrobes; one for running errands, going out to eat with my husband, etc. and another one for doing chores. I’ve read a lot about retirement clothing, but haven’t found articles about what women actually wear while cleaning the kitchen floor. I get depressed when I look sloppy, but still haven’t figured out the clothing solution to this part of life. My budget is limited, but I’m willing to buy clothes that makes me feel good. I’m a casual person, but not comfortable wearing old sweats, my husband’s t-shirts or worn clothes at home.

    1. I’m working on getting this right. Have been retired for several years, and at first was overweight. That produces its own fashion challenges! Now, I’ve been at or near my “normal” weight for a few years, and this is what I’ve gravitated toward for my at-home “uniform”. For warm weather, which is most of the year where I live, I wear shorts and a v-neck tee, usually in solid neutral colors. Cooler weather is a long sleeved v-neck tee (I see a pattern here!) and yoga pants or LL Bean knit pamts in navy or charcoal gray. I feel that I look decent even while doing household chores, plus can run to the grocery store and still feel that I look ok.

  27. Having retired 10 years ago I’ve finally made the transition from work wear to a more relaxed way of dressing, but it was like trying to find a whole new person! The final part of my transition was to acquire white spikey hair. More of the same would be my suggestion for your second book, with maybe a glance towards those of us who’ve moved to a warmer climate and sometimes struggle to look stylish in temperatures of 40C and more.
    Thank you for your introduction to M.Hulot bags….they look great.

  28. I have dozens of bags and do like quality – regular stitching, well-finished interior and robust fittings. Quality always costs; on the other hand, a lot of ‘designer bags’ are hideously overpriced. My two current favourites are a red tote by Tods which takes masses and is useful as hand baggage on flights. It’s simple, tough, beautifully made and comes with a little wristlet bag. I got this combo second hand on the vestiaire website which guarantees authenticity. I’ve also got a simple cross-body bag I bought from the craftsman who was working in his little workshop in a back street in Venice about 10 years ago. It’s tan, so goes with black, navy & grey outfits, it’s beautifully made and has a miltiplicity of pockets and slits to organise your stuff, including a little zippered place the maker said was for your ‘telefonino’ or mobile phone. The craftsman told me he was about to retire but it pleases me to think that his work still lives.

  29. I only use cross body bags. I make my own (hooked hand dyed wool onto linen). I do occasionally purchase one if it’s fun and “just right” for me. My idea of a bag is to hold only phone, lipstick, keys, and I found a nice small flat wallet from Hobo that holds coins, cash, and cards. I just don’t like the weight and hassle of large bags. Some of them became a bit scary looking for awhile 🙂

    1. @Dulcy Stewart, you and I carry exactly the same few things. No wallet for me though, since my iPhone case is a slim leather “book” with two slots for my ID, cash and a couple of cards. That plus keys and a lipstick are all I need. I love being so pared down – doesn’t it feel freeing? I used to lug around a heavy shoulder bag packed with “just in case” items that I never used.

      A crossbody bag, a nice flat one, is the only way to go IMO – I need both hands free to get stuff done. These days I like a Longchamp leather crossbody for its functionality and under-the-radar good looks. My pet peeve in handbags: women carrying them in the crook of their arm with their hand uselessly held up in the air to maintain the pose. Silliest thing I’ve ever seen.

  30. How very personal bags are . I like those Hulot ones – love Monsieur Hulots Holiday too . Ally Capp bags are my favorite , very subtle , beautifully made & the soft leather improves with age . My latest , a smallish bucket bag from last season , is described as olive ( but to me it’s khaki ) with a navy strap & works well with most of what I own – not heavy either . This seasons ‘ Figgy ‘ is calling .

  31. Understanding what will and won’t work with your body shape is a big style issue – much more so than age. its a shame you wont be covering bags in the book because there’s also there’s a knack to getting the shape and style to suit your body. I love crossbody hands free – but any bag that sits on my hip just draws attention to my, er, generous hips. A medium size, over the shoulder bag looks much better on a bigger frame I think. Oh, and scarves – I love the idea of treating them like pieces of jewellery but have very little idea what to do with them!

  32. Like Catherine, I love Longchamp bags. I had a beautiful one that I literally wore out. I rarely change bags as that is how some important items are left behind. Thus, I need a bag that lasts and looks good used daily. LV bags and Gucci bags were always my favorites until I discovered Longchamp. And now that my income is fixed I haunt vintage stores and do well. I never liked the look of a bag worn across the body. I could care less whether it has a logo or not. Just so it lasts. And yes, writing about affordable yet stylish clothing would be great. For great basics Everlane, a San Francisco company has elegant clothing at more than affordable prices. Their shoes are to die for and if you must have a cross body bag their Petra is lovely and simple. I also find great affordable pieces at White House Black Market but these are US companies so not sure you can get in the UK. Great post.

  33. I have two subjects that I’d love to see covered – bikinis and fancy heels. The older I get, the more self-conscious I am in a bikini. My weight’s fine, but I do have a bit of middle aged spread and my skin is getting ripply. Yet, in one of your blogs, women were all for bikinis. As for heels, I now have bunions. Even though there are nice enough flats out there, I really find them lacking when you need to go to a fancy party. So I’d love to know how to dress for that – are there truly fancy flats out there or heeled shoes that have real padding.

  34. Like you, I can’t even imagine carrying a clutch… so inconvenient! While I’ve occasionally carried a cross body bag, I prefer one over my shoulder. I have larger ones for travel so that I can throw in a scarf, sunscreen, sunglasses or even my camera; smaller ones for everyday use.

  35. Nice selection of bags. I usually get mine from a vintage or thrift store. I just bought a great Mui Mui tote for 7 bucks because the guy had no idea what “Made in Italy” meant. Anyway… as for questions, I would love for you to write a bit on how you approach dressing “sexy”. I know there are times when casual won’t do and you want to look not only your best but also with a bit of sex appeal. What’s your go to? I’m awkward about looking “sexy”, although I have a good body. I want to show more skin in a way that doesn’t make me feel like I’m trying too hard.

  36. First of all I am not the type that has to change her bag to go with every outfit. I am all about the cross body bag. I believe in having 3 good bags and classics ones for 3 different occasions: 1 -work and everyday (cross body good choice) 2- special occasions/dressy for weddings, social, formal events (cross body with chain strap or one with dual strap for hand or shoulder strap) 3 – a good tote bag that that a smaller bag can fit in it and able to carry or tug other things as tablets etc. neatly. I totally believe in colors that can go with a little everything and then in buying a bag that I love in the same style with a color that pops for the summer. But sticking with clean and classic lines of style. Gotta to tell you this; i have a girlfriend that is all about her designer bags and has so many for each outfit and only things she is packing in these big bags that supposedly makes her look smaller are dumb dumb lollipops for kicking the smoking habit and her wallet and small makeup case to touch up. Never anything useful; as to give a kleenex or wipes or safety pin…all about the look and not messing up her bag…unbelievable!

  37. Like others in the post I really like a handbag. Wristlet, clutch, tote & satchel they all have their place. For years I didn’t buy – kids in school etc. but now every once in a while I splurge and the result is never! disappointing. They all have a place in my everyday life.
    Even the clutch which I use at night for dinner and a movie. 🙂

  38. On my small frame, crossbody bags must have a thin strap, even if worn on one shoulder. A wide strap visually weighs me down. For casual use, I’ve found that travel stores and websites (travelsmith, magellans) offer many small over-the-shoulder bags, lightweight and cleverly designed with lots of compartments to make organization a breeze. Baggalini, especially, has a large selection with pockets designed for the latest model mobile phones and iPads, and my quilted Pacsafe wallet has a wriststrap if I only want to carry cash and cards–great for a quick market run or a movie.

    I just bought one of these, in Merlot leather. Weighs next to nothing, sits beautifully, very adjustable and so different.
    Yes, they ship from the US, so there is postage and import duty – but for me, totally worth it. I love it. This, from someone who doesn’t ‘do’ bags at all 🙂

    1. Lesley, I understand you don’t like to carry a purse but that is too much of a fanny pack and no style to it. You should try a cross body bag, the long strap makes it functional where walking, riding bike etc.

  40. I would KILL for a low-key, stylish bag that would carry my essentials and my DSLR (I’m a photographer). Dedicated compartments are a necessity! One-click closure for fast camera access and secure pockets for phone/keys/wallet/brush/mints. PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE!

    1. Jolene, not sure how big your equipment is but I know of a person that uses the Bloomsburg Bookbag that is sold on Levenger. It has 6 pockets around it and the inside is nice size if camera is not too big and lenses to fit maybe.

  41. I can relate to your relationship with bags – over the shoulder, functional, smart but not saying “look at me” or “I’m insecure so I’ve paid a fortune for a name that I now have to display to everyone”…………..One of the many advantages of being 50+. Warm regards

    1. Fair play to anyone who can afford to own and enjoy designer bags. Half the fun for me is finding something that gives a nod to a look rather than having to fork out for a bag that may only be a look for one season. There are lots of great leather bags from M&S to TopShop.

      I still aspire to having a new style Mulberry Bayswater. I think of it more as a lifelong purchase like I would a nice diamond ring or an expensive watch.

  42. I’m with Ann. Please address some of the changes the change makes in the body and how to find clothing that flatters a larger bosom.

  43. I am bag tragic but have recently had to de clutter and find 3 options now work for my beachside casual lifestyle here in Victora Australia.
    :Mulberry Bayswater in chocolate for formal
    : M0851 Canadian brand that all styles work best value in the world
    : State of Escape neoprene tote for travel,beach everything ,with smaller cross body for markets etc. I have pewter which looks fabulous with Navy and denim as well as greys and blacks.

  44. Please feature some clothes for shorter women. The clothes you show are obviously flattering for taller women. Many of them would not flatter the shorter amongst us.

  45. Might not be helpful for those overseas, but for bags in the US, I strongly vouch for Rough and Tumble-made in Maine. They have a convertible backpack that I really want. They design in both leather and canvas, and have phenomenal customer service. Also Rissetto, based in San Francisco. Elizabeth Suzann, from Nashville, makes unbelievably beautiful clothing that specifically is designed for real life, and had what must be the most practical
    Looking bag I’ve seen in ages.

  46. Hi Alyson — can you please take a crack at head wraps, turbans, and other non-hat coverings — desirable due to the many hair challenges of older women but so hard to get right. Head shape, wrap technique, materials and pattern — getting a chic look without the Sunset Boulevard vibe is quite a challenge — BTW am addicted to your blog!

  47. Alyson – could you do something on quality exercise and loungewear for women like us. I really don’t want to wear leggings, particularly not bright ones nor ones with mesh panels, as is currently de rigour on yoga rebel. I find joggers with gathers on the waist unflattering. I work from home and I need stuff that goes from my exercise class back to my desk without looking, and more importantly, feeling like a bag lady. Going out, travelling, city meetings I can do, thanks to Toteme and Protagonist. Bags I can do thanks to Lamb and TK Maxx. But day-to-day, lounging around at home, is harder for a post-50, I think.

  48. Hi Alyson- I would like to suggest advice for the bespectacled woman.
    I would rather have a great pair of glasses than a bag any day, but there is surprisingly little written about what it takes to have specs-appeal (sorry…)
    I’m almost 53 and have been a glasses wearer since the age of 13. I like my glasses, and wear them all the time, but I don’t have the budget for multiple pairs. (To put in a fashion context, the price of lenses for my prescription is eye watering – I could buy a very posh bag with the money.) So ideally, I need a frame for all occasions. I like my glasses to look modern, a bit different, but not bonkers.
    My glasses become the focal point of every outfit whether I like it or not, and they can look too much with jewellery (I’m no Iris Apfel.) And finally, the combination of specs, make up and hot flush is not good…especially at work!
    I have been following & enjoying your blog for ages, but this is my first comment – hope it sparks some ideas. Thank you!

  49. Alyson – could you do something on quality exercise and loungewear for women like us. I really don’t want to wear leggings, particularly not bright ones nor ones with mesh panels, as is currently de rigour on yoga rebel. I find joggers with gathers on the waist unflattering. I work from home and I need stuff that goes from my exercise class back to my desk without looking, and more importantly, feeling like a bag lady. Going out, travelling, city meetings I can do, thanks to Toteme and Protagonist. Bags I can do thanks to Lamb and TK Maxx. But day-to-day, lounging around at home, is harder for a post-50, I think.

  50. Hi, the whole bags question changed for me when I became vegetarian and stopped buying unnecessary leather (not a lecture, just a fact). I still love bags so mine are now made of fabric and guess what, they look great, they are light and don’t add to shoulder aches and you can have a variety of colours/patterns etc. For a more upmarket look I splurged on an Issey Miyake bag made of small man-made panels which gets a lot of attention. As to the book – hair is the perennial dilemma as are things like shoes and waistlines – luckily a lot of great, cool brands (Rachel Allegra, Australia’s Lee Matthews) are now making pants and skirts with a flexible waistline so you don’t have to suffer through constricting buttons etc.

  51. I’m very much a bag lady, but no clutches or too small ones. And for the record I’m also a boots and books lady! My bestest ever car boot buy was a (literal) carpet bag, tote-style with straps long enough to fit snugly over my shoulder and under my arm. A fiver, would you believe! New!

    Retirement wear, I’m with Jill Ann: summer wear comprises shorts and v-necked tees; winter wear comprises either straight legged sweat pants or decent(ish) jeans with a man’s checked shirt and sweatshirt plus a gilet if necessary. On ze feet: boots, natch. Throw on a throw and, Sorted. I’m 76, 5’8″ tall with long grey, nay, silver hair and apart from semi-formal and upwards occasions (very rare, nowadays, thankfully), find subtle variations on the jeans theme are quite sufficient for everyday living.

    Sorry to go on, but Alyson, you might be interested to know that Zandra Rhodes and Cunard have just held their first fashion week aboard the Queen Mary II en route to New York. Sorry I didn’t keep details but given my jeans lifestyle wasn’t overly interested, but understand the shows, interviews et al were excellent. And to be honest, I didn’t fancy spending sixty quid on a scarf, whoever designed it. I would rather have a handbag!

    Worked for a GG company in the 1980’s………will NEVER BUY another DESIGNER bag!
    DONE with the initial……even though the MK could work for me!MOTHER KIRKPATRICK.
    I am carry around a BASKET this summer and LOVING IT!IT is one of those BIG open baskets……….can put anything in it!

  53. Just spotted this post and thought I would add my thoughts. I have recently donated nearly ALL of my bags to the charity shop (beautiful but no longer loved Enny’s included) – they have started to ‘annoy’ me. I don’t want to change bags all the time – I like the reliability of the same bag and I know where everything is. My wardrobe in general has been culled drastically recently as all the ‘stuff’ has started to weigh me down. I have become quite anti-bag over the last few years and tend to use the Tate Britain Ally Capellino tote (gorgeous) or a khaki canvas bag with leather straps which I love. I did keep one Costume National bag is the leather is so soft it is a Comfort Object!. I am determined to save up for the Ally Capellino frame bag as I do think that this IS the most gorgeous bag on this planet! Until I can have that I shall carry canvas!!!

  54. I would be happy to suggest topics for your new book. Perhaps you could make a posting that isn’t buried in one about handbags. I am in my mid 60s but do want to look stylish and fashionable still. Although I’m not tall 5’5″ and medium sized with a larger bosom than previously I do wear cross body bags for their convenience especially when using public transport as I do. I like something I can hold close to the body in crowds especially on the tube in London. I own many handbags and don’t get rid of them. But favourite ones have soft body and long adjustable strap with outside pocket for travel pass etc. Brands I like Longchamp, before they got too expensive, a French brand Lancaster, see their website and on sale at Galeties Lafayette stores in France. These are affordable and in nice coloured leather with outer pockets or zipped outer compartments. Bicester Village shops in Oxfordshire an excellent place to get handbags. Re exercise clothes I wear non leggings from Sweaty Betty and t-shirts from Uniqlo, available online, three quarter or full length sleeves in a soft cotton mix with some Lycra. They don’t budge even hanging upside down doing yoga or Pilates exercises, Gap also do exercise clothes, I have one of their track tops. I recently discovered good range of exercise clothing especially track tops in H & M. Buy one size bigger in t-shirts and track tops for comfort. M &S sports clothing may be worth looking at also. Forget the branding and go for the look and fit you want. Cut out size and other labels. I mix high and low brands. Gap jeans, cashmere and cotton tops from Uniqlo with nicer shoes and bags. Sale garments from Jaeger or Bicester Village. Also dresses from Oska, especially those bought on sale. I’m wearing a burnt orange cotton/linen mix dress as I write belted with leopard print narrow belt. Old cardigan which happens to match with three quarters sleeves from Hobbs several years ago. For Oska dresses I buy the size which fits the bosom and shoulders comfortably and then have the loose body taken in or have darts put into waist by a dressmaker. I think one has to get clothing adjusted to get the right fit if one is trying to dress a larger bosom and not look too frumpy or matronly even at my age. The key to still looking good is to follow the colours and silhouette of a new season but adjust accordingly to ones own taste in colours and what feels comfortable. It is necessary for me to read paper magazines as well as those online, my favourite being French Elle, online to see how to style an outfit.

  55. Just had a light bulb phrase from your header….. the look I am trying to attain now IS Chic Not Shouty!!!!! Maybe that could be another style tribe ha ha!!

  56. Oh, thank you for your bag comments. There is a blogger of the “not my age” age stratum who always makes sure to foreground multi-thousand dollar bags in her self-portraits; I am grateful you are more creative and thoughtful!

  57. ideas for new book………. high street affordable fashion please. that would be great e.g best hight street stores to shop for items ?

  58. I have a lovely, navy Coach Prairie cross body bag which I have used all summer and will go through the winter. Not at all ‘shouty’ but very stylish and chic.

  59. You ask what should go in Book II. Book I is on its way to me as I write so I don’t know if you have covered this awkward little topic already, but if you haven’t, may I suggest – shoes for women who can no longer wear heels. Dammit, that’s me. I’m only sixty but high heels are murderous now and I don’t know what to put on my feet when wearing cocktail dresses (remember them? well, I still like them). So ideas please, and not the Doc Martins look great with a LBD – not when you’re sixty, they just look daft.

    1. Sue……how about metallic ballerinas? Flat sandals? Black patent? Just thinking about what I have lurking in the bottom of my wardrobe! I no longer wear heels, partly because my feet won’t take it any more, but partly because I live on a Greek island that does a nice line in pot holes and slippery marble pavements!!

      Anyway, between us we’ve come up with two chapters for book 2. …..Hot climate dressing and chic flat shoes! I know you’ll enjoy Book 1 immensely. Time for me to check it out again, just to be certain I’m not asking for a subject that’s already been covered.

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