Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Coach or First Class?

In 1990, when I first moved to the United States, I was in thrall to the Coach magazine ads.

If I recall, for the purposes of this post, anyway, there was only one bag being advertised: the Coach “train” bag, or somesuch name, being carried by an elegant youngish blonde woman at a train station. The bag itself was a vertical rectangle, made of what looked to be sturdy leather, with both a top handle and a long strap, and Coach’s signature turnkey closure.

The chic of the bag came from its American aristocratic feel—not from its prettiness, but from its steadfastness. Here was a bag in which Great Aunt Mildred might have carried her heirloom engagement ring to Tiffany for polishing, while tiny cousins Jane and Elizabeth might have used it to lug their silver dollar collection (courtesy of Grandfather) to the bank.

I studied this bag, but felt that it was ultimately too gracious for me. I would have had to disavow my saltwater roots in northern Atlantic Canada and imagine a new backstory, one involving camelhair coats, smart pumps, and thin leather gloves. A pleasant piece of roleplay, but a performance all the same.

When I saw Coach advertise another bag, I was cheered. Called the Soho (just the Soho, to my mind, not the Soho bucket, etc . . .), it was edgier: a big, deep, roomy vault of a bag with two thick straps—one with a bridle-esque brass buckle—that just fit over the shoulder. This was more my style, and I received it in black for the first Christmas of my marriage, in 1991.

But for some reason, sometime I put the bag away, on a post in my closet, and left it there, for at least ten years, possibly fifteen, until today.

Today, as there was a genuine chill and damp in the air, it was time to switch from my natural pale leather spring summer bag to a heartier fall one. I have an absolute capsule (blogosphere word for the week!) bag collection: one leather piece for spring/summer, one large good bag for fall/winter, one evening bag, and a cloth messenger for casual treks.

(And there are also three irresponsible bags, about which I shall not speak, but they are utterly lovely and therefore banished from this capsule idea that I am trying to conjure.)

But I am very tired of my large good bag, having carried it for years upon years, not to mention its prominent logos (see above photo), which are annoying me. So it remained in its dust bag and out came the newly christened vintage Coach Soho, devoid of current silvertone dangly charm thingies, but stately-edgy with early nineties charm and reliability.

Pleased, I filled it with my wallet, lipsticks, and keys. And then I carried it to work.

And remembered why I had banished it to a post in my closet.

For those two lovely leather straps that are supposed to keep the bag on my shoulder are so slippery that they slide right off. No amount of trying to stack the straps atop one another would secure them. (And it’s not my posture, bien sur.) I ended up carrying the bag on my elbow, college satchel in my other hand.

But I will not give up, having rediscovered the Coach Soho. Perhaps tomorrow it will sit on my shoulder like a parrot perches on Captain Jack Sparrow’s.

It just needs some coaching.

12 comments:

K.Line said...

Love this post. I have the same problem with certain bags. I just use one strap and tuck the other strap into the bag. It works and some people think I'm doing it as some kind of flip style (rather than for practical reasons).

WendyB said...

Offer it a cracker!

materfamilias said...

Good luck! Perhaps if you had a chip on your shoulder . . . A beef with Admin might help. . . Or a problem student . . .

Belle de Ville said...

I like K. Line's idea of just using one strap. It may work.

Angie Muresan said...

I have that exact same problem with certain bags. By the way, are shoulder pads in or out this season? Cause if they're in, they could be the solution...
And I want to hear all about the irresponsible bags.

Savvy Gal said...

LOL... i can see me trying to adjust and finally tucking the bag under my arm. : )

Couture Cookie said...

May I suggest you invest in a pair of those giant shoulder pads, that are everywhere this fall - problem solved! :)

I loved reading this story. It is wonderful to rediscover a once-loved bag or a pair of shoes in the back of your closet!

enc said...

What a lovely narrative. How did you to today with the bag?

miss cavendish said...

Today the bag slipped and slipped, whether it was one strap or two. The leather straps are too wide, I believe, to sit politely.

Couture Carrie said...

Lovely post, darling!

xoxox,
CC

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem until my "miracle shoe guy" fixed it for me. He sewed a very, very thin strap of rubber type material underneath the strap; the color is very very close to the saddle tan leather of the bag. Not noticeable at all. No more slipping straps; it's great.

miss cavendish said...

Anon, I had been thinking about something similar, just as one makes the bottom of a new leather shsoe "tacky"--oh, that word!--before wearing to avoid slipping. This is a winter bag, but do you find that the rubber-like strip pulls your clothes at all?