A completely frivolous question about women's purses.
July 15, 2013 1:41 PM   Subscribe

My wife's purse is worn out and I want to buy her something nice. Can you recommend a high quality, hand-made bag for under a gazillion dollars?

A Kiwi friend has turned me onto Deadly Ponies and I'm about to plump 400+ euro (about $500 US) on a bag sight unseen. My wife would normally spend about 100 euro each year on a bag but they are usually rubbish and only last a short while. Does anyone have any first hand knowledge of Deadly Ponies? Can anyone recommend something else that is hand made and high quality and somewhat "affordable?"

My wife is mid-40s and mom to two young kids so she needs a big bag to hold all the various shit you have to carry around for kids. External pocket for phone a must. That's about all I know!

Bonus question...what color should I go for (i don't want to ask her). Choices are Cobalt, Tangerine, and Sand
posted by pandabearjohnson to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (35 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I have several bags from Seattle small business Laura Bee Designs.
posted by matildaben at 1:46 PM on July 15, 2013

Take a look at the Original Flea Bag.
posted by jquinby at 1:48 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I should add some more detail...
Of the Deadly Ponies bags the Mr. Fill n Zip comes closest to the bag she currently has.

Also, I've got to be able to buy it on-line

posted by pandabearjohnson at 1:48 PM on July 15, 2013

Maybe I'm pickier than your average bear, but I'd think seriously about getting her a gift certificate to someplace that has a wide variety of purses. A purse is something that you carry every single day, and going with someone else's choice of color or style could be as grating as having to drive a car someone else picked out for you. You might choose a perfectly functional pickup truck when what she wants is a station wagon.
posted by MsMolly at 1:49 PM on July 15, 2013 [41 favorites]

I am a big big fan of Coach. I have purchased several over the years and can attest that they are practically indestructible. I recently bought a few kind of all at once, and I'm really happy with them. I carry the Saffiano medium tote most frequently, but you should also look at all the satchel styles, as they hold quite a bit, and also the Madison Phoebe is a beautiful silhouette similar to the Mr Fill N Zip.
posted by janey47 at 1:56 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Having witnessed my own wife on her occasional purse hunts, I would seriously suggest you do a gift certificate or, even better, a pre-loaded visa card so she tied to a single store can shop multiple places. There simply is no possible chance a mere man will be able to pick-out the correct purse. Not gonna happen.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:57 PM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]

I echo MsMolly's caution about buying a purse for your wife. Gift certificate or simply cash in a pretty envelope is a better idea.
posted by Cranberry at 1:58 PM on July 15, 2013

As for color, there are a lot of ways to look at this. You could buy her something that is close to the color of the one it is replacing, you could take a look at her handbags, see what colors she often buys, and get one in the second most common color on the theory that she likes the color and still needs more of it, or you could get her a color that is a good bright contrast that doesn't match colors she normally wears but instead highlights them. I wear a lot of neutrals so my red bag gets a lot of use.
posted by janey47 at 1:58 PM on July 15, 2013

Best answer: I have to agree with MsMolly and Thorzdad here. As a woman who has received a not-exactly-perfect bag from my spouse, it is so much better to let her pick out her own purse than to feel disappointed (and for her to feel bad) because she doesn't carry it, or for her to be constantly annoyed by some little detail every day that she does carry it. Purses are really, really personal things.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]

Yeah, unless she said she wanted you to buy her a purse... I mean this is one step short of buying glasses frames for someone else. You REALLY don't want to pick the wrong style/color. If I were her, I'd want a gift certificate.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:04 PM on July 15, 2013

How very sweet of you! So, give her a sweet romantic card with a prepaid visa in it and tell her what it is for. Or take her shopping in an urban area if you can, with a nice lunch out, and let her shop.

No one, I mean NO ONE, who knows me would even attempt this task. Partly, it's one of those ... I will know it when I see it .. and to your eyes two bags may look the same, but to her eyes they are vastly different.

Also, unless she indicates she wants one more durable, don't worry about that part, Some of us like a good excuse to buy a new bag. Or two.
posted by batikrose at 2:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

3rd, let her pick out her own purse. You could buy a plastic kids purse and put the cash or gift card in it. She will be thrilled, I promise.

Think about it for a minute. You want to gift her with a wonderful purse she will carry everyday for at least a few years. She may not like the purse you pick out, but doesn't want to hurt your feelings, so you will never know.
posted by JujuB at 2:07 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

Another data point: My grandmother and I adore spendy purses. She's picked out a few purses for me that fortunately were my taste. One christmas, she decided to expand the trend and pick up a nice coach purse for my mom.

My mom likes to get her purses for 50 bucks from Target or Marshalls.

She feels extraordinarily uncomfortable walking around with something that visibly costs more than 200 dollars.
posted by politikitty at 2:08 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

What a thoughtful and generous gift idea!

In the 60s my father designed (and manufactured) high-end hand-bags and even he didn't buy them for my mom. Unless she has mentioned a specific purse or only cares about owing a particular designer I'm going to throw in with the others suggesting a gift certificate.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:08 PM on July 15, 2013

Response by poster: OK, Ok, you win. I'm glad I asked the hive mind.

My main reason for considering this is that I know she will NEVER spend enough to buy a decent purse. But there you go...

Thanks for saving me the headache!
posted by pandabearjohnson at 2:10 PM on July 15, 2013

It's a great idea! Just keep the receipt so that she can return it if she doesn't like it.

I'd recommend Kate Spade. Other brands: Louis Vuitton, Coach, Cole Haan, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Loeffler Randall, Tory Burch, Vince Camuto, Rebecca Minkoff.

Does she currently carry a brightly colored bag or a neutral (sand, gray, black, white, navy, brown)? I'd prefer the sand because it will go with more things, but it's a little light to carry in the winter.

You want to get real leather, lined, with several pockets and a top zipper.
posted by amaire at 2:10 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's a lovely lovely idea and I really hate to sound like I'm raining on your parade but maybe look at finding a fun way to give the money to your wife and let her pick her own. If she has kids throw in a day out just the two of you where you pretend to be fascinated by all the bags she is looking at and buy her a nice lunch and she'll love that more than any bag she actually picks. I'd take her out to lunch, and then drag her into the shop, I like the Coach suggestion, and tell her she can't leave until she's picked a bag.
posted by wwax at 2:13 PM on July 15, 2013

Agreeing that she should pick--but there's no harm in making some "and I thought these stores looked cool" suggestions. One brand that I don't think has been mentioned here yet is mywalit (there's a website: mywalit.com)--they do very brightly colored leathers. The work is very high quality but fairly affordable for the kind of thing it is. My wife has had a purse of theirs that she uses every day last for years and years and it still draws compliments. They also make stuff for men, by the way.
posted by yoink at 2:14 PM on July 15, 2013

This is a wonderful idea. You are Husband of the Year, for sure.

I have to join the "gift card" faction. I don't think it's always good to give money-type tokens as gifts but this is an engineering and ergonomics issue that will have a big effect on her quality of life.

I find that Kate Spade bags are very well balanced and there was a some talk of her weekend bags on the green a while back - I'm on my phone but I think I commented on that one.

If you want to encourage her why not stocking-stuff with a few little accessories like packing cubes and maybe an Alessi Minou handbag hook, and a collapsible water bottle etc? None of these things are expensive, I got the first two off eBay and it really drives the enthusiasm. Or maybe that's just me...
posted by tel3path at 2:25 PM on July 15, 2013

One problem here is the 'gift certificate'. As soon as you do that, you're excluding other retailers she may choose. In a way, you're limiting your purchasing power as soon as you commit. Get some clues as to what she's after, look around, exclude the online places (if that's still a consideration) that don't have what she hinted at, and then get her a hope-for-the-best gift certificate. If you have to get a gift certificate, that is.

Or just write your own cutesy gift certificate for "one birthday purse" and get what she wants even if its from a boutique retailer (severely limited with the gift certificate option) when she chooses it herself.

Also, Coach.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:27 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

As you are in Europe, another brand to consider is Decadent Copenhagen. Brand suggestions so far have been U.S.-centric, and I am not sure how easy they are to find in Europe, or if there are huge markups for those U.S. brands available in Europe.
posted by needled at 2:30 PM on July 15, 2013

You might also think about buying her a beautiful wallet to put the gift certificate/gift card/coupon for a day of purse shopping in. That way she does get to open something lovely, and she gets a sense that this should be a really special purse.
posted by dizziest at 2:46 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Or just write your own cutesy gift certificate for "one birthday purse" and get what she wants even if its from a boutique retailer (severely limited with the gift certificate option) when she chooses it herself.

This definitely seems like the right approach. Handle the money however it works in your relationship, but it may be better to just go shopping with her until she finds the right one rather than (perhaps less romantically) coming up with e.g. a Visa gift card beforehand. A homemade gift certificate sounds great.
posted by rustcellar at 3:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Love JujuB's idea of the toy purse with new-purse money inside!
posted by Thorzdad at 3:19 PM on July 15, 2013

I think you could have a good shopping date together for this. Find a store with purses that cost way more than you think you'll spend -- then you'll get her used to the idea of expensive purses. If you want to be super good, pre-shop several that you _think_ she'll like, then go there, and show those to her.

Then, you should be able to pursuade (hah!) her to get a nice purse just a little less expensive than the super-expensive ones.

There's a risk that she'll really like the super-expensive ones, so don't go crazy :)
posted by amtho at 3:28 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Please consider a giftcard for my current obsession, the Saddleback Leather Co.Tote. (they have other stuff).
I would not even put anything like Coach or Vuitton in the same category of quality.
posted by oflinkey at 3:59 PM on July 15, 2013

I have a beautiful, well-made, non-gazillionaire bag from TheLeatherStore on etsy. So that's another option!
posted by escapepod at 4:35 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

A plain black leather Coach bag goes with pretty much everything.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:44 PM on July 15, 2013

Choosing a purse is like choosing glasses - let her pick her own.

But you are awesome to be thinking of her purse experience and I think you should just take her on a purse-shopping date.
posted by elizeh at 6:31 PM on July 15, 2013

Yes, you are awesome! But no, don't try to pick one for her.

Although FWIW, I think you have great taste: those Deadly Ponies bags are gorgeous. (And I can't stand Coach - overrated, too much blingy hardware, ubiquitous.)
posted by Salamander at 6:42 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love these Opelle bags on Etsy so much.
posted by anoirmarie at 8:05 PM on July 15, 2013

It might not be her style, but I have a satchel from The Leather Satchel Co. in blue. I chose it because a) it fits a lot of stuff in without being huge b) not only does black not really go with my wardrobe, but the chances of me putting something dark coloured down and losing it is high c) there is no visible branding on it, which is offputting ot me. I'm not a bag person, just someone who finds a bag they like and then uses it until it falls apart, mind.

Mulberry is in the same price bracket as the bags you linked to, and bag people seem to go nuts over those.
posted by mippy at 7:31 AM on July 16, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks again for the great ideas...the shopping date sounds good if painful (in some way). I think I may have just set a record for "straight man w/ most purse tabs open in browser"
posted by pandabearjohnson at 12:28 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

The other thing to consider, depending on how old your kids are, is that no one wants a leaky juice box or sandy playground toys in their fancy leather bag. There are lovely rugged bags out there, like those made by Storksak in the UK, and various others that aren't too diaper-bag-esque.
posted by judith at 11:06 PM on July 16, 2013

Another thought: experiences, especially experiences together, will give you and her much more enjoyment (generally) than "things". A shopping date, or any kind of planned date, could be a memory that gives you both a lot of joy over the years.
posted by amtho at 10:52 AM on July 18, 2013

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