You don’t have to carry everything in a large bag. Handbags that are well cared for will last a lot longer.

In an essay with the same title, Nora Ephron, a late writer (whom I have previously quoted in this series and will again quote), famously stated that “I hate my purse”. In an essay of the same title, she described how she was terrible at purses and how they would accumulate Tic-Tacs, lipsticks with no tops and Kleenex that had been used or not. She stated that she wore an overcoat with large pockets for a time to keep her purse free of clutter. At night, she wore a lipstick, $20 bill, and a credit card in her bra while out.

We have compiled expert advice this week on how to care for your handbag so that you don’t end up with one quite as chaotic as Ephron.

brown leather handbag beside white flower vase

Leather should be protected and nourished

Jenny Velakoulis of Evans Leather Repair, Melbourne’s Royal Arcade says that you should protect your bag with waterproofing spray. After waiting 24 hours, apply a nourishing cream such as this mink oil to the leather.

Sophie Holt, Oroton’s creative director, believes in protecting leather and canvas from the elements by spraying them with a protectorant. A protectant will also prevent stains and scratches, she says.

Be sure to seal the bottles tightly

Velakoulis said that she sees bags with water damage often because people put a water bottle back into their bag and it is not sealed properly. The water has leaked through the bag leaving marks and altering the leather’s character.

It can also be a problem if oil, perfume, or anything with alcohol (like hand sanitisers) leaks. These substances can cause leather to turn a yellowish color so you need to get it cleaned up quickly. If there was a large spillage, the expert recommends that you take your bag to a professional immediately.

Holt suggests using a leather conditioner to clean your bag if you are confident that you can handle the spill. Holt suggests that you do this every other day “to protect your handbag, remove stains and nourish the leather, and add gloss.”

Storage helps your bag live longer

Proper storage will also increase the life expectancy of your handbag. Holt states, “Store your bag inside a dust bag… away from direct sunlight and humidity to avoid discolouration.”

Proper storage will ensure that your bag keeps its structure. Velakoulis states that most bags come with tissue paper inside. Velakoulis says, “Put this in when you store it. It will help the bag keep its shape.” She also said that it is important to have sufficient space for the bags and not squash them against other items.

Quality and structure are important

There are some things you should look for when shopping for a bag. Holt states: “I look out for bags made of gorgeous soft buttery leathers that have been designed with care… I make sure the bag fits comfortably on my shoulders without sliding off or crossing my body without feeling too heavy or bulky.”

Velakoulis believes that a bag with a good structure and many compartments will last a long while. She advises that you look for something sturdy and able to carry that weight. It is very important to use the bag. You should ensure that the bag is spacious enough to hold your belongings.

She recommends that you pay attention to the age of leather when looking at vintage bags. Dry leather can crack or deteriorate if it is exposed to the elements. Vintage bags should be cared for.

Do not carry your entire life

Velakoulis cautions against over-packing your bag with all the things you might need. “This puts stress on the handles and leather will start stretching very quickly.”

This is especially true for larger bags. You can make your bag more valuable by being selective about what you bring.

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