A Hand Me Down Handbag


Old people are pretty great, aren’t they? You can always count on grandmas to be pleased to see you, they have the best stories, not to mention wardrobes full of real proper oldy old vintage clothes. Nowadays, anything labelled “vintage” or “retro” seems to come with a hefty price tag purely because of that one adjective, and half the time it’s really just M&S from the 90s. Not so with your granny. Or you’re great aunt for that matter. Most elderly ladies I know tend not to go clothes shopping much any more, so while their style may be somewhat stuck in a time warp, they also have super duper vintage wardrobes, just begging to be rifled through by grand-daughters, keen to re-work ancient pieces. OK, I only know two elderly ladies: my Oma and my Tante. They’re German you see, and although “Tante” means aunt, she’s really my great aunt, we just call her that.

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Both ladies are nearing 90 years old, but they both live alone – cue a) Destiny’s Child’s “ALL THE WOMEN, WHO ARE INDEPENDENT!” and b) Aretha Franklin’s “Sisters are doing it for themselves” playing in my head. And hopefully now yours too. My mum recently came back from a trip to Germany to see the aforementioned Tante, and not only did she bring back Wurst, Schockolade and German Instyle (yay, yay and yay), she also brought one of Tante’s handbags. And isn’t it wunderbar!? Tante wanted to get rid of a few things, and Mama just knew I’d love this vintage-looking handbag, so she oh-so-kindly brought it home for me. I say vintage-looking, as it could be five or 50 years old for all we know. Judging by the well-loved look and the feel of the soft leather, my guess is it’s pretty old. Isn’t there something wonderful about hand-me-downs and vintage though? As a child, everyone wants their own, new things, but as I’ve grown up I’ve come to love the idea of something (particularly handbags, natch) having had a former life. Where have they been? What have they held and seen? Who was the wearer and what have they been through? Well, as an 88 year old German woman, I know my Tante has been through a hell of a lot.

As we all know, handbags (along with, you guessed it, cupcakes) are my weakness, but it is important for me that a bag is practical too. If it’s going to be a day-time accessory, it needs to be big enough to carry all my stuff, and I have a LOT of stuff. Isn’t it so interesting to see what individual women carry in their handbags? But that’s another blog post really. This lovely cream leather shoulder bag does the trick, passing the water bottle test alongside my chunky wallet and all my other bits and bobs without looking over-stuffed. It’s got a removal shoulder strap so can be easily turned into a clutch, a handy inside zip pocket, two inner compartments and a practical popper fastening. Isn’t it annoying how some handbags are a pain to get in and out of?

I shall name no names. Out and about, I can’t help but notice a lot of cheap handbags adorning the shoulders of many a British gal, and don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a bargain, but when it comes to handbags, I think it’s crucial to pick one that doesn’t look cheap. An obviously cheap, poorly-made bag can make even the chicest of outfits look tacky, and isn’t that just a shame? Yes, yes it is. That doesn’t seem to be that problem with vintage bags. They may be scuffed, worn and even a little torn, but I believe that all adds to their charm. And isn’t it great to feel like no-one else is going to have the same handbag as you? So Tante, thank you. Ladies, go raid your grannies’ wardrobes! They’ll love having you over and seeing you interested in their lives, and you may just find a super unique gem that you can work into your look. One which would probably sell for five times its original price in a vintage store, purely because it’s vintage, dahling!


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