Is the oversized 'it' bag over?

I come bearing news from the land of Fashun. A magical realm where hemlines are high, necks are long and the grass is never green, only emerald or olive.

Now, I know news about fashion trends are often greeted with "Yeah... I won't be doing that." But this is something relevant to us all: it looks like the enormous statement bag (as popularised by the Olsen twins* and Nicole Richie) has finally been dropped from sartorial favour.

No greater fashion authority than The Daily Mail (and also some rag called Vogue) has decreed bye-bye to the giant "it" bag** because purses are returning to petite and practical. And all I can say is: about freaking time.

It seems like the 2000s were characterised by lugging around increasingly larger purses, so you could never find what you were looking for because it was swimming around in about a cubic metre of bag. You'd always fish out some ridiculous item you didn't remember putting in there, like a pair of black socks during the height of summer, or a now-melted Freddo Frog.


On the plus-side, it did mean you were generally more prepared than a mountaineer about to scale Everest. I always had a Bandaid handy, whereas my boyfriend with only his feeble pockets to contain his worldly possessions just had to bleed until I called an ambulance.

But the downsides of carrying a big, heavy purse are many. I've noticed whenever you bring up high heels, someone always quite rightly says, "It's just the modern form of foot binding." But in terms of restricting your freedom, big bags are just as bad – quite literally a weight on your shoulders.

Last year, I got sick of carrying around everything I owned like some sort of fashionable camel and swapped my big bag for a tiny crossbody satchel. It did involve slotting each of my items in with Jenga-playing precision, but I instantly felt less encumbered. (My neck has also stopped cracking in a loud and alarming manner when I turn my head too quickly.)

If you're still on the big-bag bandwagon, I can assure you that swapping to a smaller satchel will bring about Mary-Tyler-Moore-opening-credits levels of euphoria. In fact, I'm pretty sure the reason the Olsen twins usually look so grumpy is because their backs hurt.

So why has the age of the big bag dragged on so long? The more cynical side of me thinks it's simply because fashion designers realised it's much easier to charge a large price for a large purse than a small one. But I also believe it's because being a woman requires so much stuff.

We feel the pressure to always look and be as perfect as possible, and we carry that emotional baggage in our actual baggage in the form of mirrors, cosmetics and a spare pair of pantihose.

This bag debate wouldn't even be necessary if designers would just get around to putting some goddamn pockets in clothes for women. You'd think there was a worldwide shortage of fabric, given the seeming reluctance to put pockets into anything besides jeans. Perhaps then we could forgo purses altogether and enter what I can only imagine would be a utopia. No longer on a night out would women have to create a tiny mountain of bags to dance around at nightclubs. Bag-snatching rates would plummet. The chiropractic industry would crumble. The only negative would be that we'd all have rather lumpy silhouettes, but I think I could live with that.

But in the meantime I'll be happily skipping along swinging my teeny bag until 2033, when the big bag inevitably returns to fashion and I'll be able to say, "No thanks, I did that the first time around and it was a total pain in the neck."

* A friend of mine worked in tween publishing when the Olsen twins were experiencing One Direction levels of fandom and was given a missive from the Olsens' publicity team that they were no longer to be referred to as "the Olsen twins" but instead as Mary-Kate and Ashley. So remember kids, every time you call them "the Olsen twins", a publicist somewhere loses her Blackberry.

** When I Google-Imaged the phrase "giant it bags" this is the most hilarious result I found. Perhaps we should all just forsake both small and large purses and simply tote these instead?

1 comment

  • But some of those bags are too tiny to hold anything but a tissue and a credit card! And having to clutch it in your hand... no way, I'll stick with my unfashionable medium-sized bag that can hold actual change, car and house keys, headache pills and a small bottle of water to down the pills with - and which, blessedly, has straps I can put over my shoulder to keep my hands free!

    Date and time
    March 15, 2013, 12:35PM
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