Purse Post: The Free People Slouchy Vegan Tote

I have to rave about this Slouchy Vegan Tote I bought recently from (no surprise) Free People. I loved it so much, I bought three of them.

Simon likes the brown bag best

I am actually not a big purse person (a “purse-on”?); I tend to find one I really like, then keep it for several years, or buy the same style for several years in a row. My last favorite was a large tote by Tory Burch that was very big (I love a huge purse) and square and open (love a big-mouthed purse too; one I can just toss things into from across the room) and most importantly, it had pockets on both sides that made it incredibly convenient to place keys and cell phones in them and know exactly where they were. But in the past year or two TB quit putting side pockets in the totes, which made them decidedly less fabulous in my book, so when I realized the huge blue one I’d carried for two years needed replacing (I am VERY hard on handbags), I needed to find something new.

My pics are unedited and kinda sloppy, sorry – had a lot to do tonight so I had to prioritize.

I wanted something big, of course, and floppy, because I much prefer soft purses to sturdy, structured ones (again, I like to throw tons of stuff in there and sort it all out later, so floppy helps with that). I also wanted something a bit bohemian, perhaps with fringe or some interesting print – but it was not to be found. Apparently, my current style obsessions are not IN style, at least not in the purse world. I’ll skip over the part where I bought a Coach bag on sale in a snake print, just because it was the closest thing I could find to an interesting print and it was good deal, and skip right to two weeks later, when my friend Candace and I spied this bag on the way out of the Free People store in the Galleria. It was floppy (check) and big and square (check-check), but then we discovered so much more when we looked inside. It also had a very large zippered clutch-type removable insert (people in their reviews refer to this as a laptop case, then complain that laptops don’t fit in it, which leads me to believe it was not intended to be a laptop case in the first place, but I could be wrong about that) and a third, small zippered bag roughly the size of a large square wallet. It also had an extra-long strap, and – here’s the real clincher – the purse is also reversible. It’s also NOT leather, although it looks like it (in fact, most people who’ve asked about the bag since I started carrying it were under the impression it was quite expensive) and it feels buttery soft, so it is both cruelty-free and inexpensive – the bag retails for $68.

A peek inside the smallest pouch.

I bought one, then a few days later decided I needed a few more. One reason for that is the one I’ve been carrying around since I bought it is starting to “peel” a little around the edges (see pic below), so I thought having a few others to switch around might help slow that down a little. I don’t really care about the peeling so much though, and mostly wanted a few more just because I love this bag to death and was feeling spendy. When it comes to bags, I am not opposed to handing over some decent cash (although I’d never pay the cost for a Louis Vuitton or anything like that, at least I haven’t up to this point) for whatever it is that I like, and since this one was not expensive, I figured getting two more still kept it in a good price range for me.

A close-up of the peeling – you can also see the magnet that holds the purse closed no matter which way you’ve reversed it

The cool thing is how many ways I can mix and match all these pieces. Because the bag itself has nothing going on inside (no pockets of any kind), I have everything I regularly carry arranged to be either in my wallet, my makeup case, or one of the two pouches that come with the bag. My ID holder/debit card and cell phone fit perfectly into the smallest bag, I think it’s obvious what my wallet and my makeup bag hold, and the big zippered pouch holds everything else. This way, it’s super-easy to switch purses by grabbing those four pieces and stuffing them into another big purse; no pockets to go through and organize or anything. If I have time I can do some color-coordinating, of course, by taking all my stuff out of one colored pouch and putting them into another one, but if I don’t want to mess with that, the switch can be made in about four seconds.

A peek inside the larger pouch – Simon was interested, too

I’ve also found that the small zippered pouch works well when I don’t want to carry the big bag somewhere, as I can just pull it out and go, and the larger zippered one is easy to pull completely out of the purse and dig through for whatever it is I’m trying to find. The only downside I’ve discovered so far is that the inside of the big zippered pouch is black, which can make it hard to find what I’m digging for. And, I found the dark brown one to be stiffer faux-leather than the black or the natural one, so the softness of the vegan material isn’t consistent I suppose. But other than these two things, I am in love with these bags. I got six purses, really, for the price of three (although the reversed color of the black is almost identical to the natural colored one, it’s just a touch lighter) plus 6 multicolored pouches to play around with, and in total I spent about $210 for all of it.

The black purse – the reversible side is the same cream color as the small pouch

I’m not one to go around switching bags to match my outfits, but for that price and for how easy it is to do with these, I am going to start. It’ll also help each bag last longer to switch them out, because as I said, I am hard on bags. I’ve carried all my usual stuff, plus my lunch, an iPad, and an extra pair of shoes in this thing a few times (when going to work) and it can handle all that and still look great, but I know from past experience that won’t last forever. Fortunately this appears to be an incredibly popular bag at the Free People site, with a lot of color options they keep updating, so I think it’ll stick around for a season or two if I ever need more. It certainly feels sturdy to me, even when loaded down and requiring the bigger strap to carry, so I hope they last awhile.

The brown bag reverses to cobalt blue

Now I just have to figure out what to do with that Coach bag that I only carried for three weeks and no longer want…if anyone wants to buy it off me, make an offer!

The bags reversed!


A Picture A Day

I’ve decided to embark on a 365 project, which is basically taking one photo every day and sharing it somewhere (Flickr for me, of course, and on the blog). I’ve always wondered why in the world anyone would do this, but I’ve been so bored lately photographically that I need something to push me beyond what’s become my same-old-same-old. I have always uploaded a picture a day to Flickr, so in that regard it might not seem like such a big deal to take on a 365 project, but keep in mind just because I upload a picture on Flickr doesn’t mean I took it that day; some photos I upload were taken months ago or even years. The trick to the 365 is that the photo you share has to be taken on that day.

I hate deadlines, so even though there are loads of groups with this restriction on Flickr (like the Face-Down Tuesday group, which will only accept face-downs if they are taken on that Tuesday) I’ve never participated in them. But right now I see the appeal of being forced to take a photo every day – it’ll get me past my comfort zone and help me to look at the world with fresh eyes. I’ve gotten too accustomed to my routines and procedures, and I need a kick-start. This should generate new ideas for me if nothing else.

I also watched one video from the composting class I bought a few weeks ago, and it talked about brainstorming for shoots. Hearing what the presenter had to say about the ways in which he generates concept ideas reminded me that creating photographic art can work in many ways, and that it’s not that different from trying to ignite sparks within any other art form. I forget that sometimes, and don’t think to engage in creativity exercises or games to come up with fresh ideas (one suggestion in the video was to get two hats, put little strips of paper in one hat full of nouns, then scenarios in the other hat – draw one strip from each hat and then you have to create a photo out of the pairing. His pairing was “red bull” and “stuck in a thunderstorm”). But it makes sense that after several years of taking photos one way, I’ve gotten into a rut and need to play some games with myself to keep things interesting. I intend to engage in some of these, and the 365, to me, is yet another game that can help me stay inspired.

To do this I intend to utilize my Canon SL1 mainly, as it is easy to carry around; I keep my 40mm pancake lens on it for quick access and shooting, and I’m going to keep my smaller Speedlite in the case also. I may pick up a mini tripod, too, for self-portraits on the fly. We’ll see how far I get with this; I fully do not expect to get through the whole year. If it helps take me in some new directions, though, I won’t mind if I fail at the overall length of time I manage to pull it off.

Anyway, here’s Day One’s photo ( day one technically was yesterday, BTW):

day1 - purse1

This is a purse I bought at, of course, Free People while at the Galleria with my best shopping buddy Thursday. Now, I just bought a nice Coach bag two weeks ago, so I did not need a new purse. But on  our way out of the store (I’d already been to the counter and made a purchase), we spied this bag hanging on a wall, and it looked nice enough for us to check out (it’s called the “Slouchy Vegan Tote,” and you can get it here). The first thing we noticed was that the purse is totally reversible, which is really cool. Then Candace peeked inside, and excitedly pointed out that it had a second purse tucked inside it. The second one wasn’t a purse exactly; it had no handles and looked more like an iPad case, but it was a little bigger than that. Then, we noticed it had a third purse; a little makeup bag that attached to the outer straps. Well hell, if you include the reversibility factor, that’s four purses for the price of one! And, the price was nice, because it’s not leather, but a totally vegan faux-leather that’s buttery soft and looks awesome. I did not need this purse at all, but it was too cool to pass up. So there you go.

When deciding around 11 PM to do a 365 project, I thought immediately of making my first shot be one of this purse, because it reminded me of a matryoshka doll with these three different sizes tucked one into another. So, I tried to get that stacked effect in the shot; then, I used my new Nik Collection filters to give it a double-exposure effect. I had to work quickly to get the shot in under the wire; I got it uploaded at about 11:45 PM so I was able to consider July 31st my Day One. Yay for meeting deadlines. We’ll see what tomorrow brings with this!