Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Quest for the Imperfect Purse

Because of the tag line on this blog, I'm frequently asked, "Have you found the perfect purse?" or "Is that the perfect purse?"

The answer is always, "No, but I'm still on a quest."

I did, however, find an imperfect purse recently.

I discovered this vintage crocodile handbag at Hughes Estate Sales in Altadena. Doors open at 8:00 am for the once-a-month warehouse sale, but dealers and civilians start lining up a half hour earlier. It was handbag love at first sight, and I grabbed it without a moment's hesitation.

The imperfect purse

What made it irresistible? The fine crocodile leather, the exquisite craftsmanship, the leather lining, the brass top closure and hardware, the classic shape (which reminds me of the handbags in my sidebar). It is in impeccable condition, but has a faint smell of my Grandma Opal. I think the scent is a combination of stale Clove gum, pressed face powder and old pennies.

What makes it imperfect? It's too formal to carry every day; it looks a little out of place with blue jeans or yoga pants. It truly is a "handbag," designed to be clutched in hand or dangled on the lower arm, not the shoulder. No, it's not the perfect purse, but it's a classic that I'll keep forever.

And at $60, it was a steal. It's similar to this one pictured at left, available online for a starting bid of $250. Even the lining and inside compartments are identical to mine. Another look alike I found online is selling for 350 pounds.

I'm quite happy with my new handbag, even though it's not the perfect purse. I just ask one favor. If you see me carrying it, resist the urge to chant, "Here comes the doctor. Here comes the nurse. Here comes the lady with the alligator purse."

Do you also think of Ruth Buzzi's character on Rowan and Martin's Laugh In when you hear the word "handbag"? It was the ultimate weapon of male destruction.


Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

Dirty old men like those kinds of handbags.

Barbara Roth said...

I love it! What a wonderful find. I think you could pull it off with jeans. What else did you find at the sale?

Susan C said...

Miss H, I will be well armed against the DOMs of the world who are drawn to me and my crocodile bag.

Barbara, Glad you like it. I think you're right about the blue jeans. Since I have so few clothes that fit me properly, I've been dressing up my blue jeans a lot. I also found a pair of beautiful vintage, never used, chrome trays from Italy. Very clean and modern looking with delicate etchings of ferns.

altadenahiker said...

Another vote for jeans! With maybe a white cashmere sweater. Does the clasp make that decided cle-unk sound when you press it closed?

Susan C said...

AH, Oh, yea, I love that feel and sound of the clasp.

Piper Robert said...

This purse thing with women is very interesting. I've observed Bonnie numerous times, shopping for the perfect purse. The perfect purse seems to be a lifelong pursuit, like searching for the Holy Grail.

When in tow with Bonnie, while she is in purse mode, my first instinct was to tag along in silence. But, being a Myers & Briggs INTJ, I really felt impressed to put purse shopping into a rational system.

1. Is the brand name important?
2. Color.
3. Strap length.
4. Compartments/pockets. Too many? Not enough?
5. Basic shape.
6. Material.
7. How do I look holding it? This is the mirror test.
8. How does it feel on my shoulder? In my hand?
9. Will it be used for work only? Will it be an all encompassing purse?

I used these questions on ONE occasion to help Bonnie narrow her search and use a systematic approach. I was curious if this would actually work in a real world situation.

While at Macy's, we gradually eliminated down to a Guess. She bought it. Not the perfect purse, but this one would replace her Coach.

Does the perfect purse exist? Probably not. Am I going to use this system every time Bonnie shops for a purse? Absolutely NOT. Purse shopping is one of those activities Bonnie enjoys without all the analytical mumbo jumbo. Kind of like listening to a friend's problem. I only give feedback if asked. Most people appreciate an ear that will listen. With Bonnie, I'm there to provide support,if needed.

I love it when I say, "Take your time, Sweetie" and she gives me a big smile. What a joy.

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

Bonnie has a lovely new pantsuit. Mrs. Pearl told me so.

Piper Robert said...

What's a pantsuit?

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

OMG! I am so embarrassed right now.

Susan C said...

Robert, I love your observations/analysis of purse selection. To complicate matters, each item is weighted. I would probably divide the criteria into quality, style, functionality, durability and versatility. I give the most weight to quality. Other friends value functionality above all, but those bags often end up looking a bit ugly.

And you are so sweet to give Bonnie all the time she needs.

Miss H, embarrassed?

pasadenapio said...

There's no such thing. God knows I've tried to find it.

Susan C said...

You're right, PIO, but that's not gonna' stop me from looking.

altadenahiker said...

that's why Piper Robert's the man! Miss H, to your room. I absolutely love the way Susan thinks everything through to the last detail.

Piper Robert said...

Hey, Sis, why is Miss H embarrassed?

I hope this isn't about wire hangers.