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The Bloke's Guide to Handbags (or, how to buy a girl a handbag... if you're a guy)

Many handbags! - Source: Flickr - Maureen Lunn - Creative Commons Attribution License

It's that time again: the birthday. It's time to go shopping for a gift for the significant other in your life. You've mulled it over, you've pondered, you've thought.

Last year it was the Pandora bracelet, the year before it was an iPod. Christmas was underwear (shame she didn't want to wear it after Christmas dinner) so Valentine’s Day you bought chocolates. Mother’s day was flowers. It’s the birthday again… hmm.  What do all women use? Something all women would like? Nothing that dies, nothing that adds calories, nothing that needs to cost more than your approximate budget of £200… 

That’s it. A handbag! The trouble is, as a typical guy, you know next to nothing about handbags. Where to begin?

Handbag basics

Now, let’s face it, all women need a bag. Whether fashion conscious, career girl or tomboy, they all need something in which to keep purse, keys and phone. It goes without saying that once the handbag is purchased and purse, keys and phone have been duly accommodated, these items will be buried under a deluge of other rubbish- but hey, that’s not for you to worry about.

So... handbags.  Price-wise these will range from about £15 in a sale for something that’s not designer, not leather and not brilliant, right up to ridiculous amounts that very few of us would be able to spend. As an example, the Italians make some of the most chic and basically, most wanted designer bags, such as Balenciaga, who produced the much coveted ‘motorcycle’ bag (costs around the £600-£2000 mark) Gucci (again, similar price range) while the renowned French Louis Vuitton designs tend to cost around £500-£1500, and sometimes more.  Other brands to investigate include Prada, Mulberry, Burberry…you know the ones.

This of course, is a pretty special gift. Let’s talk brands now that most of us can actually afford...

Choosing a handbag brand

Fiore stocks a range of handbags which you can see in our online store, including Fossil. This company makes a really nice selection of bags that are great for every-day use, come in a brilliant selection of colours, are available in leather and fabrics, and range from about £60-£200. As far as handbag prices go, the size of the bag usually has quite a bit to do with increasing price range. 

For all the reasons that Fossil bags are great, bags by Spanish fashion house Desigual are worth a look as well. These are really brightly coloured, strong designs that are a bit different from the norm and again, don’t break the bank.  For a more traditional kind of design, try Tula or the ever popular  Radley bags with their trademark Scottie dog leather tags. Ted Baker is always a fail safe choice for bridging that gap between work and nightlife fashion.

Handbag Shopping Do's and Don'ts

Of course, there are a few handbag do’s and don’t’s  which might come in handy:

  • If you are shopping in a store, allow the store assistant to advise you. It’s what she’s there for. Think about what you are looking for in advance: Work bag? Every-day bag? Going out bag? All-purpose?
  • Don’t take it upon yourself to buy a bag for a special occasion such as a wedding or a special night out. Sorry guys, but you’re really unlikely to get this right.
  • Look for sales (Don't forget to check out our own sale section, or indeed our current 10% sale on all Tula handbags!)
  • How fashion conscious is your girlfriend or wife? Think about this when you are buying. Does she just buy things she sees and thinks are nice, or would the mere thought of wearing a last-season design prompt expressions of mortification? If so, sales are less likely to be useful.

If the prospect of going handbag shopping fills you with horror (or just boredom) then shop online. At least then you can reach for the beer and the remote at the same time. If you shop online, don’t forget to look at the bag dimensions. You can’t fit much into a clutch bag, while some 'shoppers' are really far from elegant.

Types of handbag

Now for the un-politically correct but-really-quite-useful vast generalisation:

Another tactic

If you’re still stuck for ideas or unconvinced about the whole handbag thing, or your significant other simply has in your view, far too many already; then why not consider this?

A female friend of mine who has a positive bag fetish, was particularly enthusiastic to respond when I asked her what her other half had bought her for Christmas one year.

"Ooohh”, she squealed excitedly, “A handbag liner! Isn’t he clever?!” 

Yes gents, a handbag liner. “What on earth is a handbag liner?”  I hear you politely ponder.

Well, it’s a must-have item for the girl who owns everything- well, everything you’ve thought of so far, anyway. A handy, one-size-fits-all (well, most) inner that simply slides in and out of whichever colour or style of handbag you wish to use that day or evening. You shove all your indispensible lady stuff in there, and there it stays without the need to drag it all out and swap everything from bag to bag. Brilliant? Yes.

I didn’t like to suggest to my friend of course, that she probably had a helpful sales assistant to thank for the inspiration to purchase said ingenious Christmas gift.  And of course, when you present your loved one with your ingenious, beautifully wrapped gift of choice, you’ll be taking all the credit too.

That’s what you paid for, right?

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