A recent post by The Thoughtful Dresser reminded me of a small but significant element (to me) in the Great Handbag Debate.
In New York Magazine this spring Carine Roitfeld remarked, “I do not wear handbags,” which sent the fashion world into a tizzy—would handbags survive once the famed editor of French Vogue declared their very species unattractive?
I was also ruffled (I have a vexed relationship with bags, which you can read about here), but for a different reason: Roitfeld used the verb “wear” instead of “carry.”
It’s not a matter of ESL; indeed, I’ve seen bags described as something “worn” instead of “carried” in other places, perhaps even in the blogs of my esteemed fashionista pals.
Rather, Roitfeld has unwittingly raised a philosophical issue: does one wear or carry a bag? And what’s the difference?
To me, the notion of “wearing” a bag conjures the image of building an outfit—of consciously thinking through which piece goes with the other—and I try never to seem thought-out in my clothes. (If something “matches,” then that’s a cue to change the offending item, pronto!)
I “carry” a bag, which to me connotes a take-it-or-leave-it attitude. The bag is neither a part of me, nor of my ensemble; it simply carries my essentials inside it. And lest you worry that I carry something that is dissonant rather than harmonious with my clothes, fear not: if it doesn’t work, I go without. But then, I might add, I do like an attractive dose of dissonance.
So my query is this: do you “wear” or “carry” a bag? And remember, that’s not a grammar question—there’s no correct or incorrect answer!