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2010-12-16 digital edition

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2010-12-16 / School

The Perfect Handbag

There is no fashion accessory that is more important than a woman’s handbag.

Once upon a time, women didn’t carry a handbag at all. That’s because she never went anywhere. If you happened to be a woman married to a wealthy man, and your life revolved around soirees and the opera, you would carry a reticule.

A reticule was a tiny bag, just big enough to carry your smelling salts. Every woman needed to carry smelling salts just in case her lady’s maid tied her corset too tight. This was not usually a problem unless she ate more than one petit fours and swooned into the punch bowl.

Life has changed a bit since then. My lady’s maid wouldn’t dream of tying my corset too tight.

Okay, it’s changed a lot. I’m not sure there is a single woman out there that carries smelling salts in their purse. but we’ve got everything else in there.

Picking out a handbag is difficult to do. A woman could spend months looking for just the right one. We have our criteria and order of importance for those criteria.

Some women like to compartmentalize their stuff: money in one compartment, makeup in another, spare diaper and baby wipes in another.

I have a poor memory that doesn’t seem to be getting better no matter how many crossword puzzles I do. Just yesterday, asked a friend how her son’s arm was doing, only realizing, after it was too late, that it wasn’t her son who had broken his arm. It was my other friend’s son, who was also sitting with us. It’s a little too much to ask of crossword puzzles to fix that kind of memory.

So, yeah, I would never remember which purse compartment held what, and I’d have to unzip each one until I found the one I needed. The handbag that would work best for me is the one that looks like a short Hefty bag. There might be a couple of slots on the inside for thing you need to find quickly, like BandAids and insurance cards.

One characteristic of the perfect handbag for me (and they do have character!) is a slot on the outside for my cell phone. When you know it’s only going to ring three times before it goes to voicemail, there is nothing more infuriating than trying to find your cell phone in a black hole.

My handbag also must have a zipper closure, not a button. What is the point in buttoning it if, after you slam on the brakes to avoid a kindergartener in the drop-off zone, your handbag falls off the passenger seat and distributes its contents all over the car mat? Trust me, a zipper is better. if you remember to close it.

To me, color is least important, but I will choose a neutral color if I have an option. I do not have a purse for every pair of shoes. My closet is not that big. Neither is my ego. I don’t care if everything matches. Really. If there is no toilet paper attached to my waistband, I consider myself put together. and blessed. I set the bar rather low years ago; about the time that spit-up rags on my shoulder were considered the least of my fashion transgressions.

I’m looking for functionality over aesthetics in my handbag. If I happen to find both in the same handbag, it’s like finding the Holy Grail.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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