The Vermont Cynic

UVM Style: Winter Bags


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We all have items that need to be with us during the day. Books, wallets, snacks, music players, make up, phones, cigs, and who knows, a flask here and there. If it were socially acceptable to wear a Velcro suit and attach all my possessions to my body, I would.

There is just too much to think about in the morning when I’m getting ready to face the day. What will I need? Should I bring my coffee mug today? Will I need to reapply my make up? Should I bring a nose hair trimmer and finally get the nerve to give it to that girl from Soc? What if I trip on my heels? What if someone else does and I need my first-aid kit?

You never know when you will perform the next tourniquet. Obviously, I need a big, roomy container to store all these items that I will most definitely need during my hours on campus. And here is where the bag comes in.

Needs aside, bags can take on all sorts of identities. They can be big and small, heavy or light, leather, suede, fabric, and ugh, even nylon. They also have ugly cousins called backpacks (I’m not too fond of those).

Buying a bag is almost like adopting an animal. You have to think about your lifestyle, your values (leather or pleather), your social status (Luis or Charlotte) and who you really are (studs like Sienna or feathers like Anna Nicole).

Whatever choice you make, there are a few rules to follow to make sure that you do not end up looking like a clown, or worse, a bag lady.

First and foremost: bags are solitary animals. Never, regardless of the circumstance, leave your house with more than one bag. It makes absolutely no sense, and it looks horrific (one of my biggest pet peeves). Unless you are fleeing a natural disaster, avoid looking like a coat hanger.

You have absolute freedom when it comes to the size of your bag, so go ahead, indulge in a Belkin where you can carry anything from your Brita jug to your PoliSci book. Sadly enough, I have seen many, many ladies sporting a handbag and a backpack.

Which brings me to my next point: backpacks are comfortable and easy to carry. But they are also infantile and aesthetically challenged. I do not condone them unless you truly, really need them.

A good rule of thumb is, if the handles of your bag leave bruises on your shoulders, then you are allowed a backpack. Otherwise, rethink how much stuff you need during the day and grab a messenger – it fits as much stuff, without the “middle school” look to it. And they are also unisex.

Men wearing messenger bags are mature and settled in life. Boys with backpacks make me wonder whether they’ll ask me for a date and take me to Cook Commons.

Big slouchy bags and leather totes are perfect because they make the smoothest of transitions from Waterman to Happy Hour. They are one of the trickiest, most useful tools you can use to go to class in style.

Some other general rules: don’t wear the same exact color outfit as bag, especially pastels. Colors need to be complimented (not amplified) by more and more items of the same tone. A brown bag will do wonders on a pink sweater or coat, herringbone really makes earthy tones stand out.

The most experienced fashionistas know that this winter is all about black, and black and white, but wearing a white bag can be tricky in winter. Just make sure that it doesn’t look like a summer bag (if it were black, would it look really queer?).

If it is medium to large in size, leather or suede, doesn’t have any flowers, bees or things of that nature, you’re probably safe. Especially if it has studs. Just remember to only wear it with a monochromatic outfit. Leave the colors at home.

For the less experienced ladies out there, let me notify you that small, narrow shoulder bags had their day, but this is not it. If you can’t comfortably carry a paperback copy of The DaVinci Code, you need a bigger handbag.

As parting words, I will remind you that winter is not over nor will it be anytime soon. Stores have begun to sell their early spring collections, and shopping for light, care-free garments is very tempting.

No matter what you do, make sure you keep the cheerful striped beach bags, cream canvas totes and flowery purses away for at least three more months. Happy travels.

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UVM Style: Winter Bags