The Cross Body Handbag: The Ultimate Hands-Free Device


Having just spent the last few hours scouring the Spring 2014 runway shows, I am officially confident in declaring the cross-body bag back with a vengeance. We've been seeing it on the scene for a few seasons now, and I couldn't be happier. Not since the 80s have we seen so many cross-body bags on the market. Sure, they have always been out there, but previous post-80s permutations have always felt a little bit...I don't know...sensible. And I mean sensible in the lacking chic sense of the word, not in the understated minimalism sense of the word.

Rewinding a few decades, those of us who were out and about in the 90s will undoubtedly remember the surge in popularity of mini bags, brought about by the Fendi Baguette, which is still available if you're so inclined.

I love the idea of mini bags; their petite size and feminine charm works well in going from day to night, but I daresay we 90s gals often found ourselves fidgeting as it constantly slid from our shoulders, refusing to stay tucked-up inside our armpits while we tirelessly browsed the local sale racks with one good arm.   It also dictated that we make a kind of cosmetic Sophie's Choice when going out at night; there was no way you were going to fit both a compact and lipstick in there along with your wallet (and you could forget about getting a 1990s-era cell phone in there). You had to choose. Red lips or matte skin?  You couldn't have both.

The year 2000 and the ensuing decade brought the arrival of the "it" bag. These bags were big, huge even, and loaded with hardware. The Chloe Paddington, the Mulberry Bayswater;  enter the era of the expensive-as-a car handbag. The massive Herm├ęs Birkin became the status symbol for the status-conscious everywhere, and in it's bespoke permutations (think rose gold crocodile and diamonds), sold for up to 1.9 million US dollars.  Don't worry, if you missed out on the trend, you can still find a pre-owned classic Birkin for as little as $14,000.00.

I have nothing against big handbags, I actually quite like them. There is however, a limit to the amount of stuff you can actually carry around with you all day, before you start to suffer from back pain or the bottom of the handbag starts to buckle under the weight of that pair of shoes, bottle of water, magazine, makeup kit, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, book (in case the Kindle dies),  mineral water atomiser, hairbrush, straightening iron, dog leash, hairspray, eau de toilette, hand lotion, kleenexes, vitamin supplements, sunglasses, car keys, sunscreen, and nail file.

The cross-body bag solves this too much - too little conundrum. The wide variety of new shapes and sizes provide just the right amount of space for what you really need, while the cross-body strap distributes the weight evenly across the body. You can find them in quiet, logo-free permutations, or outfitted with studs, chains, feathers, or crystals. The possibilities are endless, making them very collectable, and therefore highly addictive.

I recently started wearing my favourite vintage Coach cross-body bag again, and the freedom I feel when out and about with my hands free is quite liberating indeed. Perfect for travelling. Gone are the shackles of the too-tiny mini bags,  just as my days of lusting after airline carry-on sized handbags have disappeared into the ether. This season, I'm more than ready to let practicality have it's fifteen minutes.

Get Hands-Free!


  1. I'm a huge fan of cross-body bags, and right now am "test driving" a few smaller options for travel. I love that Coach timeless.

  2. i really like how comfy they are - but on a "busty" girl like me it looks somewhat strange in the front upper section....

    just found you - very informative blog. you look fab in the bardot makeup!!!!!

  3. I love cross-body bags for travelling. Practical for essentials and stylish too.

    Annette | Lady of Style

  4. I carry a cross body for everyday, but it is like a messenger bag so it's too big for your stylish criteria. HOWEVER; that Coach bag you are sporting is one of the many (6, maybe?) Coach bags I donated to Thrift here in NYC a few years ago. I deemed them too heavy, too ugly, too much. Now I am kicking myself. Someone got a good deal on some sweet bags.....

  5. I'm so glad they're making a comeback! I got quite tired of only finding fun bags with short straps - and twice I have left my bag laying around while shopping because I couldn't look through things while it was dangling from my elbow! I love my big, baggy cross-body bag for traveling, shopping, walking, wind surfing, tree climbing, semaphoring - anything!

  6. The Coach is a gorgeous choice. Great size, great color, and I'm loving the hardware. Any idea what it's called?

    1. Im not sure what the original name was (circa 1980s) but the Coach Lagacy collection makes a "Penny Shoulder Purse" that is almost identical.

  7. I buy used Coach bags at thrift stores whenever I find them. I think your is a Convertible Clutch. It is much larger than the Prnny Shoulder: 11 x 7.5 x 3 versus 7 x 4.5 x 2

  8. Just like everything else, I'll adopt the idea when everyone else has done it to death. I'm just now learning to carry a smaller clutch in my big tote. When I go out the door with a handbag, I'm going at least 45 minutes away from home, every time. So I tend to stay hours, and like my necessaries in the big bag.
    I haven't had a yearning for a tiny crossbody yet. I see them everywhere here, though, and that's a wonder. Perhaps I should pick up a classic-ish one and see how they work.

  9. That's my Coach bag too, and it is my go-to for almost all occasions. Well, I didn't take it to Mexico, but everywhere around home. :-) It's slightly larger than most cross-body bags which makes it perfect for me.


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