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.