Once I started gathering material for the topic of accessorizing minimalist ensembles, I quickly realized that I’d need multiple posts to adequately cover the territory. Let’s start with bags, as the Bag Moment seems to be with us still.
A general note about working minimalist looks: while one certainly can use streamlined clothing as a backdrop for show-stopping accessories, the overall look ceases to be minimalist if the accents are excessively frou-frou, Boho or blingy, or if styles are mixed. If a more eclectic look is for you, then go for it and enjoy; here I’ll be focusing more on pared down pieces that play well with others to create overall minimalist ensembles.
Functionality is an important component of minimalist style. While one or two striking details will add visual interest (a zipper pull in an interesting shape, a pleat that forms an outside pocket) too many superfluous details that don’t add function to a bag will dilute the effect. And without a lot of distractions, you want to be sure that the leather or fabric and construction details (stitching, hardware) are of very good quality. Many of the bags I’ve shown here are on the higher end price wise, but they’re also pieces that won’t look dated in a few seasons, and should wear well and be good investments for the long term.
I’m happy to see that crossbody bags are more available than ever, as they are better for our necks and backs, and practical when travelling or out and about wrangling kids, dogs and/or bags of groceries.
Marc by Marc Jacobs “Natasha” bag, $330.
Even if grey weren’t one of fall’s hot neutrals, I’d be tempted by this bag. Grey is seasonless and coordinates with just about any other color. I’m not crazy about the logo plate, but it’s not a deal breaker. The leather on this one is smooshy and nice.
Marc Jacobs “Paradise Leigh” crossbody bag, $895. I saw this bag up close over the weekend and the picture truly doesn’t do it justice. The leather is soft and supple, and the bag itself a bit slouchier than it appears in this picture. The gold studs around the bottom nod to current trends without being overwhelming. Form and function co-habit harmoniously.
In the same line of bags, the Rio satchel is a perfect size for work (though probably too small for most laptops) and is available online in other colors too at Bloomingdales and Barneys.
Marc Jacobs “Paradise Rio” satchel, $995.
I have to give crazy greased-up Marc
props about one thing here. While most other designers have continued to bump up the prices on their It Bags year after year, MJ has kept prices in the same range (or even the same for his classic bags like the Blake) for several years now.
During the 1990’s round of fashion minimalism I frequently coveted pieces by Prada (bowling bag, anyone?). Though never totally abandoning the simpler styles while delving into gauffre, fringes and lots of ornamentation in the last few years, the line seems to have returned to its design roots this season, offering a flock of gorgeous bags with a minimalist spirit.
Tory Burch “Mini” Norah Satchel, $450.
At 16″ long, I’m not sure how “mini” this is! I’ve not often been a fan of Tory Burch styles, but I love the clean lines and structure on this bag, and the absence of the ubiquitous obtrusive double “T” logo. (The logo is
there on the lock, but it’s small and subtle.) I’m not sure if the shoulder strap is long enough to wear crossbody.
While I find many Chanel bags just a bit too fussy or overbearing for a truly minimalist look, a 2.55 or classic flap in leather can add an uptown touch. Black is the standard and a can’t-go-wrong choice, but why not consider grey or brown? Chanel flap bags, even the larger sizes, go from day to evening easily, adding to their functionality.
Yes, they’re pricey. A less heart-stopping alternative, again from Marc Jacobs:
From Uptown to Downtown: the Balenciaga “Arena” or motorcycle style bags have been faked like crazy and declared “so over” by the Bag Snob ladies, but I still love how they look whenever I see one adorning the arm of a cool and stylish woman.
Even with the tassel zipper pulls and the hardware details,this aesthetic is still clean and edgy enough to work as an interesting accent for minimalist ensembles. I find the “City” to be one of the more practical styles, $1445 from Barney’s.
Black is gorgeous, but Balenciaga offers several other colors each season, for those who go for the pop of color.
J.Crew has some really great looking bags this fall.
The “Brompton” bag is on board with the crossbody option. I particularly like the espresso color. $278 from J.Crew.
A favorite bag in my own collection that fits right into the minimalist groove is the Yves Saint Laurent Muse bag.
$1450 from Saks.
I’m nuts for this dark chocolate color, and wear it with everything, including black. I consider the Muse a new classic.
Of course I could go on for days, but will wrap up with a new YSL bag that is beautiful, functional, and also has serious potential to Become a Classic.
Yves Saint Laurent “Chyc” shoulder bag, $1650.
This bag is available in a few different leathers and colors, and I’ve yet to see one I didn’t like. But this saddle brown above and the black patent leather both knock it out of the park.
Do you have a favorite bag to wear with your more streamlined outfits? Do you prefer bags in a neutral color, or do you go for color?
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