Carless, Part 1 – Purse Culture

Car-PurseI read a lot of fashion magazines in high school and college.  They were escapism, I used them for scrapbooking, and they helped me approach getting dressed each day with delight.  However, I could not, for the life of me, understand why any woman would need more than one purse.  Ridiculous women with too much money on their hands, I thought dismissively, and every year I skipped over the entire purse shopping special.

Have I ever changed my tune now!  I have a brown daytime purse, a black daytime purse, a black crossbody bag, two different totes (but neither are the “right” one), a vintage coral handbag, and a shelf of small clutches and evening bags.  Then I have my two backpacks, one big and one small.  And believe it or not, I use all of these items consistently.  And I have my eye on two Vera Bradley bags, the tote (the “right” one!) bag and the weekend/duffel/diaper bag.

This is because of a fundamental difference between city life and country suburban life:  I have no car.

When I lived in the suburbs, I had a car at my beck and call.  I had a purse, sure, but apart from carrying a cardigan, a few grooming tools, and my wallet/phone/keys, it was a light affair.  During high school, admittedly, I tested the tensile strength of my large purses, but I only had one at a time, as they were my nonconformist approach to a backpack since I didn’t like the shoulder strain.  The point was, it was largely functional – it held stuff and then got plopped onto the front seat of my car, under my desk, on the floor, etc.  And if I needed lots of stuff during the day, no worries!  My car could hold all the extra, and I could just grab stuff as I needed it.

Well, life is very different here in the city.  I am often away from my apartment for twelve or fifteen straight hours.  When I was working an office job, I discovered that I was acutely self-conscious if my purse clashed with my outfit or looked too casual against my professional clothes.  Perhaps it was city peer pressure, but I began to crave a neutral bag with some polish that could stand up to city life.  And the occasional pouring rain.

So I began collecting bags.  Work merited a fairly large size, but an afternoon hanging out with friends didn’t need that much, so a smaller bag was better.  And so on.

Then I went full-time into my performing lifestyle.  Nowadays, I often have three or four different types of events in one day – for example, work as catering waitstaff, an audition, dance call, and church board meeting.  What all will I need?

  • Catering uniform: shirt, tux pants, special jacket, special shoes, and socks
  • Hair supplies to put my hair into the catering bun: pins and hairspray (lots of hairspray)
  • Audition outfit with appropriate undergarments
  • High heels
  • Dance outfit: leotard, tights, appropriate shoes (character, tap, ballet, and/or jazz, depending)
  • Flats to be able to walk around the city all day long
  • My audition book of music
  • Headshot and resumes
  • Church committee folders
  • Computer for church board minutes

Then there’s my normal purse stuff on top of that.  It’s a lot.  And unfortunately, you can’t go back to the apartment during the day, because when you figure in wait times for the bus and probable traffic in the tunnel, you’re looking at normally 1 ½ hours round trip.  We don’t even live that far!  It’s just that you have to factor in the unexpected.

So that, friends, is how I discovered that a car is just an expensive purse.  At least back then I never had to worry about it matching my outfit.

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcp_dmoz/3497114253/”>marcp_dmoz</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

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