Old Bags

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Seasonal Hectickness is upon us isn’t it-I’m already feeling anxious, aren’t you? Many thanks again for all your great Thanksgiving day tips though-they were fabulous!

One thing I like to do when I’m feeling overwhelmed is organize my closets. Call me crazy because, quite frankly, I have so many other things I should be doing but there’s something about clean closets and drawers that calms me.  The only problem is I have a terrible tendency to get side-tracked at the moment. Actually, truth be told,  I’ve always been that way but lately it’s become chronic! I was packing a suitcase and the next thing I knew, I was playing with purses.

Whatup?!  I make lists, but as quickly as I cross off items, more appear.

I know the  real key is to prioritize, focus and breathe deeply.

I’m trying, really I am.

In the meantime, I’m tidying my vintage bag collection.

Prioritize Schmioritize…

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Slim Paley photo

Two of my favourite antique bags

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Slim Paley photo

Little black velvet sac with sapphires…

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Slim Paley photo

Look how the top folds out to reveal a mirror & built in rouge cake -just like my grandmother used to have. Even the original puff and label is still intact.

Alas, does not accommodate iphone.

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Slim Paley photo

Turquoise, pearls, bakelite, rhinestones…you name it, this bags got it.

Could also work as a heavy weapon if you were caught in a dark alley.

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Slim Paley photo

Silk and velvet with a fringe, this bag is really big – sort of unusual for an evening bag. I love the long fringe-so Boho for it’s day!

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Slim Paley photo

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Several years ago my husband bought me a fun book full of wonderful images of handbags called “Carried Away” published by Vendome Press. 

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Image from “Carried Away”

A purse belonging to Napoleon’s notorious sister Pauline (1780-1825)

 I was going to say I guess no soap was found in it, but that was Josephine wasn’t it? 🙂

Slim Paley Photo

My Tiger’s Eye bag. Also not the lightest bag in the drawer.

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An antique silk bag from “Carried Away”

Reminds me of the canopy on an antique baby carriage.

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Antique velvet  & silver bag via “Carried Away”

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Slim Paley photo

Long time readers might recall a couple of these bags from “vintage” S.P. posts but after well over 300 posts a girl is allowed to show up with an old bag or two once and awhile isn’t she?

Like beaded grocery bags-I told you I was recycling this month!

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OK, time to bid you adieu and go take one last loving look at my clean closet before I go to bed and count lists jumping over fences.

PS. Do you have any secrets to keeping organizational anxiety at bay?

Do share!

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(first photo via “Carried Away”)

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49 Comments

  1. What a wonderful post! I enjoyed looking at all the beautiful and unusual purses. I, too, am a list person (I got this habit from my father) and love when I am able to cross things off the list. Speaking of closets and drawers…I’ve got a few I need to clean and organize. Oh well!

  2. I am afraid that I don’t have enough to organize in my life to have anxiety over it–hey wait! Perhaps that is a tip in itself? 🙂

    Just a thank you as your collection is just so mind-bogglingly beautiful it woke me up quicker than my coffee on this sleepy Sunday morning. I love imaging the lives that the women must have had to carry such bags?! Whew.

    Bisous,
    Heather

  3. I am also the “organizing as cheap therapy” type and organize my closet regularly. Favorite thing to do is separate by color. Always reveals I buy too many white shirts. And black, too much black in my wardrobe.

    I used to collect vintage bags and still love them but I never came across the fantastic ones you discovered!!! Thanks for sharing. Stunning.

    In what countries were they made? I noticed the velvet hot water bottle looking one with sapphires was from MA, USA. What about the others?

  4. I have a vintage beaded bag collection and I am going to order “Carried Away” as a Christmas present to myself. I am dying over your collection, and I can see why organizing them calms you down. Who wouldn’t be calm looking at those amazing bags, made in a time when people treasured such beauty. I am especially keen on the one with turquoise and pearls and the tiger eye. I have never ever seen anything like them at any antique show I have attended. Do you display them in any way? I keep my best in shadow boxes in my bedroom.
    As for anxiety, I have very little, fortunately, but when I do I clean or float in the pool and listen to my favorite music (Bennett, Krall, Astaire, Vaughn among others).
    Have a great day, and thanks so much for this beautiful post.
    Best…Victoria

  5. Hi Slim,
    I persuaded my other half to let me convert his dressing room to a ‘handbag gallery’, using lots of gorgeous display hooks from Anthropologie. There’s little light, so it preserves them while displaying their gently faded grandeur. Perhaps you could do that? Your husband will have to move all his clothes out, of course – or into a closet in the corner, like mine did. And he’ll want beer privileges for it… But those are the curatorial compromises we make.
    PS Have you been to Didier Ludot in Paris? Beautiful vintage bags! And if you want some cheaper Hermés or Chanel, try Catherine B in the 6th arrond. It’s where all the in-the-know Parisians shop.
    Janelle McCulloch
    janellemccullochlibraryofdesign.blogspot.com

    • Thanks for the Paris tips Janelle! I am familiar with Didier Ludot but not Catherine B.
      As for curatorial compromises, my poor husband’s “wardrobe” has already been relegated to such a small area it’s not even funny.

  6. Wow- I’ve been organizing my closets too! Could it be something in the air? Or just plain approach avoidance in light of the coming holidays. In any case, it feels good to do it. Your handbags are truly gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your images of them.
    Still having fun,
    Ruth

  7. Hi Slim,

    Yes I do the SAME THING ! It’s so funny to hear somebody else talk about it. I start with my pantry to get ready for all the treats coming in with all the kids home from school and holiday goodies then I do the drawers in the kitchen…..
    My theory is by taking control of something when life feels so OUT of control gives me back my mojo…

    Love the bags I collect some too !

  8. Beautiful bags, Slim! I think my favorite is the black silk and velvet with fringe. I might be tempted to use it all the time. It would definitely corral all of my copious lists. I too am a huge list maker, but this time of year I cannot even keep up with the lists themselves.

    Somehow I know though that despite organizing tangents, you will have your Thanksgiving “in the bag” before we know it.

    Happy Bird Day to you.

  9. I can’t believe it someone else does the same thing as I do. I will be getting ready for a big ole party at my home and figure that my drawers need to be perfect and get distracted for hours in my closet….totally not caring that in hours people are gonna want to be fed…..glad to know someone else has the same fetish! BTW love those bags girl, pieces of art actually are they hanging up on the walls in your closet?

  10. Slim a most artful post. I adore all of your gorgeous bags. The black velvet sac is so very unique though!I hope you have a way to display them…truly!

    Love and Hugs,

    Karena
    Art by Karena

  11. Must be that time of year! I keep asking myself, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ One bite at a time, I know, but has anyone ever really eaten an elephant???
    I’m trying to convert a spare bedroom into a home office, which currently resides in the attic. Meanwhile, the spare bedroom has decided it makes a pretty good winter coat depository–who knew we as a family had so many coats and jackets?!?!
    I bet it’s pretty warm in your neck of the woods, but how’s about a winter accessories post?
    Love the blog–always a hoot!

  12. oh, what beautiful bags, the tiger’s eye and the bag with bakalite and turquoise? Just beautiful. I inherited several evening bags from my mother-in-law, in addition to the little mirrors that came with the bags, I find matches from the restaurants and clubs the purse had visited with it’s former owner. Love that little history lesson! I’try to leave little hints in my bags for future owners.

  13. First I have to say Wow oh Wow!! about your lovely vintage bags. The black sac with sapphires took my breath away, notice how I spelled it sac instead of sack, because it is much to special to be called any other name!! Now about the organizational thing. I do the same thing. I think it is because we have to go to our core or our foundation before we tackle the surface stuff. You are just creating a great support for all of the upcoming events and happenings. I subscribe to your way of thinking, it is much more fun. You my dear are living in the moment, don’t fight it, Enjoy the Process!!! xo Kathysue

  14. Tons of cool bags !! I love purses. My organizational skill is to every six months go thru the closet and purge! I know…. that means get rid of things – but it feels good to me. Like a rebirth. Great blog. GREAT old bags!!

  15. Slim,
    I would dump my droid for the velvet bag with sapphires. Nope, no advice on staying focused when there are lots of things to do for Thanksgiving because I too operate so much more efficiently when I’ve cleaned the drawers and closets…it’s an illness, there is no cure! 🙂
    Karen

  16. Lucky Duck Slim, your collection is stunning. Thanks again for sharing on this rainy dark Sunday. You let the light in.
    P.S. Cindy I may have you beaten in the white shirt Dept.- can’t resist.

  17. And I thought I had a lot of handbags! You may know about this, but when/if you are in Amsterdam, be sure to visit the Tassenmuseum Henrikje Museum of Bags and Purses, Four or five floors of bags through the ages, housed in an exquisite old canal house with an adorable restaurant/tearoom and a great gift shop.

    A girl can never have too many purses! mwp

  18. “approach avoidance” – Ruth (see above) that is perfect! I am one too.

    Seasonally, I switch items in my closet to Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter. Really only two seasons here in southern Cal. Everything out of season goes to a spare bedroom closet (Hubby’s office) and translucent storage boxes on the upper shelf in our shared master closet. (I’ll stare at the neatness for days – it is truly relaxing)
    When that is complete I can go on to the “to do” list that matters to the family Ie: “what’s for dinner”, “is there clean underwear”?
    On to brining the practice turkey. Cheers!

  19. Since my Christmas decor is so massive, I too take this time of year to clean and weed out all spaces that I have avoided for the last year! It puts my decorating excesses on hold and gives me time to think how better to use a space. From the other posts it sounds like a fairly common syndrome! Your purse collection is amazing and should be in library cases or a museum somewhere–a shame to keep them hidden away in closets!

  20. I think organizing the closets is a perfectly valid occupation . . . if even the hidden places are clean, it makes everything seem much nicer. My personal goal is to have no drawer or closet that I’d be ashamed to have a guest peek into . . .

    Your bags are lovely.

  21. Slim, these bags are so beautiful! I, too, have a vintage handbag collection. I can remember where I bought each one, in many different antique stores or flea markets from around the country. I am still so in awe of the craftsmanship, the originality of the design and the beauty of vintage clothes and accessories. Just that folding bag with the compact!
    I think today that Fendi and Valentino still make purses we will treasure in the years to come. I still use all of my Fendi “Baguettes.” They are as timeless as ever with their embroidery, beads, and stitching.
    As for organizing, well, I am supposed to be doing all sorts of other things , but am reading your post and commenting instead! I think a good clean out is the way to start, being ruthless in excising what needs to go, then only keeping what you really want. Good compartments help a lot so that each thing has a place and not just stuffed into a drawer. Presentation is so important!

  22. Holy Mackerel! Those purses are fantastic!!
    Where can I find one of those beaded antique type ones?
    Maybe there are online sites that specialize?
    Who cares about being organized when you can spend time with
    evening purses so exquisite. Such things of beauty.
    -Susan

  23. Hello dear Slim, I’ve missed you! Of course I check in from time to time, but seldom have a minute to leave a comment….however! I’m loving every single one of your gorgeous vintage purses, and my favorite is the celtic knot/turquoise bakelite bag. STUNNING! I received “Carried Away” for a birthday present several years ago and never get tired of picking up and finding something I hadn’t noticed before. Such treasures! I hope this finds you well….. have a warm and peaceful Thanksgiving! xx

  24. Slim

    What a wonderful collection! No wonder your spirits are lifted when you sort through them.
    Today when I know I should be doing other things, I am finding relaxation and pleasure just browing through your beautiful blog and enjoying others too.

    How I wish now I hadn’t been so good at cleaning out cupboards in the past. I wish I had kept some of my mother’s pretty evening bags and also some of my own things from younger days, eg some very cute Mary Quant outfits and bags and clothes by top Australian designers of the 60s and 70s. They all went to good homes, some to friends, others to Op Shops but now I have lovely young grand-daughters and I so wish I had kept some. Lesson in this, don’t be too quick to give up things that could be treasures for the future.

  25. Fun post. Was studying the bag considered a potential weapon in dark back alley. The design interests me because it is based on Chinese endless knots. But I can’t make any further sense out of it. You’re missing one great bag. Richard Mineards gave it to me for Christmas last year. It’s a large tote of burlap and printed very large on it is TAKE ON OLD BAG SHOPPING! Causes a lot of attention in supermarts.

  26. I like to throw in some creative flair in organizing. Like whenever I make a list I get the Sharpies out and add some color into it. A trip to Michaels always helps! So do fancy dishwashing gloves 🙂

  27. I am also a list maker, mainly because I love crossing things off. In fact, I sometimes add things I’ve already done but forgot to put on the list — just so I can cross them out!! Crazy, huh? Now I’m off to clean out a closet or two . . . .

  28. That was so much fun! Just gorgeous! Thank you so much, the handiwork,from the petit point to the jeweled, so pretty. Josephine’s sister’s bag surprised me as it had a tad of a western flair. I have never heard that she didn’t bathe, or use soap, lovely. At least you do something constructive when you veer off course, I hop on Pinterest , call a friend, or read, so good for you! Would you like to come over? My drawers have been shouting at me, getting louder all the time! Off to read my new House Beautiful. I love your Posts!

  29. I love your wonderful collection, Slim! I must confess that purses are my favorite “thing” to buy – more fun than clothes or shoes (to me, anyway)!

    I recommended your blog to a relative who is a decorator, and she has now recommended one to me that you might like: Mrs. Blandings (maybe after Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House with Cary Grant?). The addess is Mrsblandings.blogspot.com – take a peek!

    Thanks for the inspiration – I now want to clean out my closet.

  30. Wow, your little bags!
    Don’t laugh, I re-fold and re-stack the sweaters up on the closet shelf — black stack, brown/gray stack, red/pink, and the blue-ish. Makes whole closet look better.
    Then I make lists – presents, food/menu, …

  31. To Pamela

    Maybe Josephine wasn’t any more averse to washing than the average privileged lady of her time. But it is said that whenever Napoleon was on his way back to Paris from his travels or campaigns or whatever, he would send her a message saying “Don’t wash, I am returning”!

Would love to hear from you!