Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tote-al-it-tarian.

I am not the kind of girl who is 'into' purses. I can appreciate them, the great ones, especially that are all buttery and leather and lovely, and I recognize the certain whatever-it-is that they can add to an outfit, not to mention their inherent necessity, but I've never been one-with or in-synch with purses. I suppose if everyone can be fit into a neat little box of Shoe Girl or Bag Girl, I am certainly the former.

Because no matter what I always turn back to the tote. The trusty canvas tote, with its dirty handles and the bottom stained from a leaking water bottle. They have no inside pockets, as they are the most basic of bags, and so all those little neat things like lip gloss and ipods and cell phones, bobby pins and all manner of weird little tchothkes that make living frivolously possible trundle around the bottom and inevitably get smashed or worn. It drives me insane but I can't seem to stick to anything else really. I tend to favour the traditional canvas tote-bag, even though it gets really dirty (and I know you can wash it, but it never is quite the same is it? It's like when you wash your stuffed animal and it comes out different and sometimes it's missing and eye). I think it's cool. I mean, almost everyone uses a tote bag. Some are snobbish about it, I'm sure, and would never, but even then I'm sure they do use one now and then to throw an extra pair of shoes (or eight) or snacks for the drive, or piles of books.

They are sturdy things. My favorite one was six dollars from the J. Crew outlet. It is large (and in charge) and has a pig on it., and is made of honest-to-god canvas. It says LA FERME or something, because we think we are francaise, in blue and red. It is glorious now in its degradation. I haven't used it for a week because it got so dirty I started to feel a little strange about it, but I keep looking at it hanging on the doorknob and knowing, in the back of my head and heart, that I'm going to go back to it. Maybe I'll try to wash it.


(When it was new, clean, and fresh)

Ideally, I will be able to find a new tote. The other thing about totes is that they are, theoretically, guilt-free. You toss them around and then get a new one. I am of course, as is the luxury of the spoiled, particular about said totes. The design has to be right, because if it's too twee, it's just that. Avoid the twee-est of the twee. I don't like the ones that have the 'flat bottoms' (in quotations for no reason) because they are hysterical in their call for order, and then they just disappoint you in the end and get all messy anyway. I'm not sure what I mean by that, but you get the idea. The straps then are also important, because they have to be sturdy—otherwise they get all crinkly and useless and hang on your arm like floss and you can't put anything heavy in it anyway if the straps aren't strong enough.

I also feel like the tote goes with everything. I don't really mean that. Almost everything. I wouldn't wear it to a fancy-pants event or anything, but I really like how it demystifies and outfit. I guess a tote sort of anchors it, like black tights, or v-neck t-shirts. I can wear the frilliest outfit and THEN wear a tote, and suddenly it seems balanced. With a t-shirt and jeans and cute flats (something I'm learning to embrace, although dangly earrings help) it's an ernest attempt at effortless dressing. Maybe I'm delusional, but it's how I feel at the moment.

fieldguided has made a few posts and tweets about tote bags, like this one here. I think I'll eventually end up breaking down and snagging an Alphabet Bag for myself, once I commit to a design.


55 comments:

  1. I love my Alphabet bag, even though it is filthy now!

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  2. i'm not a big fan of canvas totes, surprisingly. i like a mid-sized, sturdy, broken-in leather bag myself. however, i saw this bag recently:

    http://shop.millscanvas.com/theflightbags.html

    and i think i'm in love.

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  3. i can't understand how people can have a billion different bags and then switch them to go with thier outfit. I have two, big and medium, and even then it's a pain to change bags. I mainly use totes for travel, but that & bag is pretty much perfect.
    -indigo

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  4. I love totes, but I just gotta have a billion little pockets inside to be able to find anything back.

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  5. i think you're totally right about simple totes - they can completely anchor an outfit. i hate carrying small bags because i always have so much stuff, and a classy canvas tote is always the solution! i definitely need a new one, though, i really love the alphabet bags.

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  6. I seem to collect totes, but never use them. However I need a new bag for next school year so maybe a trusted tote will come out. I love yours, I have that t-shirt

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  7. I've been looking for a canvas bag myself! I love the ones from various book stores that have little quips about books on them...

    Great post!

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  8. I totally share your love for tote bags and I love drawing on them

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  9. I love this post <3

    Not being a Bag Girl myself, I do love the canvas tote. I have four - two have band logos as I got them at shows, and the other two have bookstore logos because well, I got them at bookstores. They're incredibly handy because I never like for stores to plastic bag my things so I just shove all my books, clothes, and other purchases in them throughout the days.

    I'm in love with that the ampersand tote. My ex-boyfriend thought I was crazy when I told him I love ampersands. "Who likes ampersands?" he would say incredulously. But here it is, imprinted on a tote!

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  10. I love totes! I'd like to make one myself soon inspired by a Cath Kidston one

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  11. canvas totes are the way to go.
    adorable, sturdy, roomy, and usually not too expensive. although i prefer the ones with
    the little secret pockets inside! :)

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  12. I really love the bag you have! And the one that says & on it. You should buy it.

    Oh, and I'm definatley a 'bag girl'. I've never really been that into shoes..."/

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  13. I love totes. I have other bags, but I've never been able to carry around a tiny purse. It just feels weird. I've been wanting that ampersand tote for the longest time. I think if I get my hands on a decent blank tote I'm just going to stencil it myself.

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  14. Yeses are great, my fav is a half size one from Calvin Klien, the prfect size for my lunch and to carry in my purse every day for emergencies. :-) Love the & tote!

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. My Lewis and Clark bicentennial bag is absolutely filthy from red wine, coffee, dirt, grime, you name it. I've considered washing it, but really, I like it looking rather grotesque.
    You should buy a blank canvas bag at Joann Fabric and design one yerself. I bet you're crafty.

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  17. I know what you mean, about washing them. My stepmother gave me this perfect tote, and I finally had to wash it, and then it was all faded and not as bright and crisp as it once looked. Made me sad.

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  18. I always use totes for my shopping, but I can't do without my trusty satchel bag with all its pockets! Plus- the leather is waterproof, so handy when you get caught in the rain!

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  19. I am in total love with your beautiful blog! Thank you for the wonderful inspiration - your awesome style!

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  20. I love canvas totes. I was very happy to get one free with an issue of Marie Claire UK once...a very pretty canvas with a purple floral pattern...

    I'm always admiring ones other people have. haha.

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  21. I love totes, too, but I can never find the right one, because I need a zipper to feel safe, and all totes I've seen have a button or sth in the middle and that's it :/

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  22. I'm so happy you mentioned Alphabet bags, I mentioned them on my blog a couple of weeks ago, I have their 'I refuse to participate in a recession' one :d Love canvas totes!

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  23. Haha, I keep a merry-go-round of bags, I am certainly a bag-person :D

    However, I too enjoy a good sturdy canvas bag for grocery shopping, or going to the gym with all my gear (it beats an unsightly duffle, gag). My favorite is an ancient Whole Foods bag I found for 50 cents at goodwill, it is the TANK of canvas bags :D There are also many delightful ones at the 100Yen store, I could certainly go crazy there...I SHALL BUY YOU ONE.

    Also, hi!

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  24. I'll say it again, Hooray for Totes! I got the Mociun + Corwin one in the mail and I am dreading the day it gets dirty. But! Maybe a quick dip in some dye can give a tote a new life?

    Not that I'm advocating copying, but why don't you try making a tote with some transfer paper printouts? I did that once and it was a good test run!

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  25. i'm loving these! the beach ones are so cute.

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  26. The first real bag I ever bought was a long handled, dark purple and pink satin and cloth bag, the kind that come from India and are open at the top with just a button and loop. It was useful, easy and pretty and I used and used it. Then, one day, after I'd had it for about a year, I was shopping with a friend who was looking at cheap, brown vinyl handbags. She kept asking me what I thought of them and if I liked them and trying to be tactful I said simply, "oh, I'm not really into bags."

    She looked me up and down, resting her eyes on my favourite little satin number and said, "Yes. I can see that."

    That was about two years ago, and I still use the bag quite often. I was just so surprised that a person could be so snobby about my little bag, in all its useful glory.

    If totes are your thing, then you should stick with them, regardless of what others think. The ones you have up are really cute and it sounds like you could have a lot of fun picking new ones out!

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  27. You are absolutly right! I just mentioned your post in my blog. I hope, it`s ok, otherwise I will delete it. Btw- your blog is one of my favourites!

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  28. I do have a couple of large totes I keep coming back too--they're very convenient bags.

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  30. I'm not really a bag person either. I love that canvas bags, despite being so simple in functional design, have so much aesthetic design put into their exteriors. They can really make a statement. Too bad yours is dying--it looks lovely.

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  31. I love the bags! And you blog, especially the header! Really cute!
    -milk

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  32. i loooove totes - i really like targets canvas totes. one of my faves tho is a canvas trader joes grocery store tote that can carry all my belonngings and then some!

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  33. Hello! My name is Ginela and I'm new at commenting your blog. I've been following it for quite some weeks but I've felt so demeaned at times of commenting since you alredy have a ton of people there to comment you. Anyhow I just wanted to tell you that your posts are lovely and I always literaly smile while reading them. On the subject of the totes I think everybody does use them! They're very trusty and well at least you can see the dirt right away! - unlike leathery black bags that dont show their true colors :P. There's a part in the film Forest Gump where little forest hops on the school bus with one of them tote bags! So there ya go lol.

    ps. you've probably heard this multiple times but I adore your writing, it keeps me hooked till the end of every post

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  34. You have such a lovely blog.
    Cute bags!

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  35. I use a tote to carry all my junk to work. I have three that I rotate between, although lately I've been favourite my pink one with a horse on it. They are all groaty and dirty, but they carry all my junk and books to read on my lunch break.

    I'm definately a shoe-girl too though. Btw, I really like your blog!

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  36. hi, i agree with u... totes are indeed catch-all, but i also depend on backpack.. which i regard more catch all :P u look sweet anw :D

    hey, i just started a blog and would like to swap links w/ u if u don't mind :D thanx for reading my comment anw

    http://callitcrap.blogspot.com/

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  37. there are a couple of canvas tote bags that i have seen people carrying that i would love to find- one has the barbara kruger print 'i shop therefore i am' on it, and the other says 'oui oui' with little hearts for the dots on the 'i'.

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  38. I have more totes than any other kind of bag! They are so versatile! I love the ampersand one

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  39. I love totes, they're perfect, especilly for summer when leather bags make me more hot and sweaty! i love my totes and just got a new one last weekend :) those two are very cute too.
    x

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  40. Hello!

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  41. Theres something so wonderful about huge shopping bags with cute quotes and things on them! Love it! x

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  42. the thing about totes is that i find it so hard to find my stuff in them. my phone and keys ALWAYS sink right to the bottom. and the handles get so grubby. they are good for when i'm just popping the shops or walking the dogs though.

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  43. love the alphabet bag! ahhhh

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  45. I like the rhyming tote. In a home-economics class that I had to take in high school, we had to pick a sewing project. I made a tote bag and I absolutely love it.

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  46. I love the first bag, canvas totes are the best to carry around, especially while shopping :)

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  47. wow i love love LOVE that Ferme bag - so cute!i had a cute tote, but it fell apart in the washer...not made very well :-\

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  48. Love the alphabet bags and your blog! Have a look at mine, I posted them too....xxx Jenny*
    www.ilovemuffins.es/blog

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  49. Just bought a cute monkey tote recently from Pinkerton Design:

    http://www.pinkertondesign.com/pages/tote-bags

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