A woman's search for the perfect purse

And you thought it was about bras, shoes and jeans

May 13, 2010|By Susan Reimer

I got a new purse for Mother's Day, but I am reserving judgment.

I like the purse, don't get me wrong. I actually lobbied for it. But I've been burned before, so you won't hear me gushing about this purse until … well, until I know it is The One.

You'd have better luck buying me a new husband for Mother's Day. Or a new house.

There's a greater chance I'd like either one of those than there is that I will like this purse. That's how tough the purse thing is.

You might think it is bras. Or shoes. Or jeans. But it is really purses. Women spend their whole lives looking for the perfect purse.

And never finding it.

At this year's Flowermart, they were selling used purses for $1, $5 and $15 to raise money for the homeless. They collected, like, 500 to sell. Probably the easiest work they've ever done. There are more rejected purses in the backs of women's closets than there are jeans.

You might lose the weight some day and wear those jeans again, but you will never carry that purse again. The purse just didn't work out. That's that. It's over.

I wish I could tell you what a woman wants in a purse, but you don't really know until you know. Until you've transferred all your stuff into it from your old purse and thumbed it up onto your shoulder and sort of lived with it for a while.

At that point, you realize that the purse isn't The One. It never is. There is always something just not right.

But hope springs eternal in the human heart, and my friend Betsy goes on eBags.com all the time looking for the perfect purse. The latest contestant just arrived. Betsy seems happy with it, but I know better. In a day or two, it will be in the back of the closet. There are celebrity marriages that have lasted longer than a woman's relationship with a new purse.

Personally? I don't like purses that look like diaper bags. Ones with pockets for water bottles, cell phones, keys, checkbooks. Those purses let everybody know what a control freak you are. A place for everything and everything in its place, in your purse.

But the "dump" purse isn't that great, either. You know the kind. The ones with one side pocket and everything else at the bottom. You can never find anything in "dump" purses. You couldn't find a glowing hunk of uranium in the bottom of a dump purse, especially if you are in a hurry.

Little clutches and evening bags? Giant purses that look like they wouldn't fit in an airplane's overhead bin? Backpack purses? Canvas? Leather? Patchwork madras? Belts, chains or monograms?

Kate Spade. Michael Kors. Coach. Tod's. Dooney & Bourke. Fendi. Marc Jacobs. Vera Bradley.

All those designers, all that money, and still no perfect purse. It's like they aren't even trying.

Do you know you can rent purses? That may be the answer. Like test-driving a car, renting in a new neighborhood or living with a guy before you marry him.

It may be the only way to know if this purse is The One.

Even though you know it won't be. It never is.


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