Packing for London: The cross body experience

london_bridge2So I’m deep in the throes of planning my trip to London next month — and by that, I mean I’ve been Googling tons of places, printing out info sheets and Facebooking my friend Stacy regarding trip plans! I’m visiting her for a long weekend over Memorial Day, and she will be kind enough to escort me around the city and generally be an awesome friend! I’m so excited and nervous, I feel like I’ve swallowed a huge bag of Pop Rocks every time I think it!

And I’m thinking a lot. Obviously I need to iron down what it is I hope to see while I’m there — it’s going to be a whirlwind! I have three full days and then a half day in the city, and I want to hit all the highlights — basically everything I missed when I went the first time. Hyde Park is on the list, as is King’s Cross Station of Harry Potter fame. I want to hang out in Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, and I’d love to make it back to Buckingham Palace! Mostly I want to wander around, take as many photos as possible, talk to Stacy and just be in London.

And being in London is going to require a certain . . . wardrobe. Now, by absolutely no stretch would I consider myself a “fashionista” — I do all right and don’t usually get made fun of for my clothing choices in public, but I’m definitely not as “fashion-forward” as some folks. Definitely not as fashion-forward as Stacy. So one of the biggest dilemmas I’m facing at the moment is all about . . . my wardrobe.

I know. I’m dreading this. I’m really, truly afraid of my clothes sometimes. What I have is fine for my good ol’ American stops at Target or Kohl’s, going out to dinner or spending a day in the office. But hanging out in London, one of the world’s most fashionable cities? Uh, no.

My next dilemma? My anxiety over traveling abroad — and getting my purse stolen. Seriously, the last time I was in Europe, I carried around a really itsy-bitsy woven bag that stayed permanently glued underneath my arm. My passport, money and credit cards were in a leather organizer that hung from my neck — and was tucked into my shirt. We heard so many warnings about pick-pockets in Italy, we were terrified to have anything . . . exposed. And, sure enough, we managed to get back home without anyone stealing from us! WIN!

But this time? Stacy will be with me. And I’m not so sure Stylish Stacy will approve of my bulky leather neck organizer thing . . . and I’m not so convinced I won’t look like an idiot wearing it! But I don’t want to just throw on a random, casual shoulder bag. I’m not confident enough to carry all important documentation and the money to my name in something that a random person on the street could snatch right off my shoulder. Hi, Mom and Dad? Yeah, I’m at the U.S. Embassy. I have no ID, no money and no idea how I’m getting home. Could you, like, save me or something?

Today I found my solution: the cross body bag. You stick all that important stuff in there, slip it over your shoulder and run down to Kensington Palace. Perfect! So I started Googling around, perusing the endless online retailers who tout “cross body purses” on their sites. Of course, there are a million to choose from . . . and you can pay pretty much any price you want.

My only problem?

They’re ugly. Like, ugly. Completely unattractive, I-would-never-wear-this-in-the-States ugly. And my problem of not looking like a total goob in England resurfaces! I don’t want to embarrass my friend with my poor fashion choices . . . but I still need to stay organized and have all my stuff secure!

After my extensive and rigorous research, I’m left with a few options . . . and I’m still not completely sold on these, though they’re the best of the worst, in my opinion. Oy.

ELLE cross-body handbag in black, Kohls.com, $24

ELLE cross-body handbag in black, Kohls.com, $24

Tignanello Pebble Leather Crossbody Organizer Bag in hot pink, QVC.com, $52.80

Tignanello Pebble Leather Crossbody Organizer Bag in hot pink, QVC.com, $52.80

Kathy Van Zeeland Travelware KVZ Cross Body Organizer in peacock, eBags.com, $39.99

Kathy Van Zeeland Travelware KVZ Cross Body Organizer in peacock, eBags.com, $39.99

Sharif Adjustable Strap Organizer with Printed Trim, HSN.com, $54.90

Sharif Adjustable Strap Organizer with Printed Trim, HSN.com, $54.90

Tignanello Pebble Leather Crossbody Organizer in bone, QVC.com, $54.48

Tignanello Pebble Leather Crossbody Organizer in bone, QVC.com, $54.48

I’m leaning toward the pink Tignanello . . . mostly because, well, it’s pink (that’s reason enough for me to buy most things) and it has roomy pockets and a place for credit cards and cash (on the inside, closest to my body). One of those front pockets will easily fit my camera, too, and the style isn’t completely hideous. I think I could work it. Or at least try to work it! I haven’t written off the other styles, though, and the hunt continues.

Always with the Dooneys

crisp_dooneySo Dooney & Bourke is trying to get me again — they’ve unveiled a new line of handbags! I wasn’t crazy about their Shadow DB line from last year, but the new Crisp Anniversary line is gorgeous. I love the brown and cream combination! I really, really want a brown Dooney — I could easily wear it with many outfits to work; it’s a neutral, so it matches many of my “weekend” clothes; it’s classy but not stuffy; it’s . . . beautiful!

Of course, I absolutely have to behave myself . . . even in light of the fact that my favorite style of Dooney, pictured at right, also comes in a fuchsia combination. Fuchsia! Pink! God, I love pink. But I already have a pink Dooney — and between all the stuff I’m buying on Etsy (but not selling — how sad!) and the state of the economy, I’m going to officially sit on my hands now. But if you’re looking for some eye candy before the weekend sets in, check out the new line of handbags here.

The ‘Big Girl’ Bags

dooney2

I have a problem — a very big Dooney problem! I’m completely obsessed with these bags, as I’ve detailed before. They’re fun, classy and . . . expensive. Not ridiculous or extravagantly so, but still not really cheap. Of course it’s all about the quality and I know I’ll have them for a hundred and one years — or until I’m sick of them, which will probably never happen — but I can’t just that to justify spending the money in the “current economy.”

How many times a day do we listen to diatribes on the economy? I listen to quite a few, not to mention all articles that pop up in my e-mail and on my favorite blogs and websites daily. It gets pretty disturbing to read about the “fall out,” which just reminds me of an OAR song I like called, aptly, “The Fall Out.”

But once again, I digress. Here are my three Dooney & Bourke bags, with the left-most signature fabric bag being my most recent addition: a Christmas gift from my parents.

dooney1

They’re just fun! They make my stomach do a little happy flip when I look at them. Of course I rarely seem to actually carry them out in public, but I love to smooth my little fingers over their pretty surfaces! And the bright pink, rope-patterned bag has a special place in my heart: I bought it for myself with one of my first “major” paychecks from my post-college, full-time job.

It’s my Big Girl Bag.

We all have our Target satchels and freebie totes we use to lug stuff back and forth from school or work. We have our old leather hobos that we picked out a solid ten years ago, and we throw our wallets in there and run. They’re no frills — purely functional. We don’t have to worry if we drop them in the dirt accidentally or a pen explodes in the pocket or we get caught in a rainstorm unexpectedly. They’ve been through it all — they’ll be fine.

But Dooney bags are fragile. Not fragile as in you can’t actually sling them over your shoulder, but “fragile” in that you have to take care of them — not bend their handles all up or throw them on the couch haphazardly. And wearing a Dooney (or Chanel, or Louis Vuitton, or Vera Wang . . . whatever is your handbag drug of choice) makes me feel empowered and grown-up. If I need a purse to make me realize I’m an adult, I guess that’s a bad sign, but there’s just something about the feel of an expensive handbag that makes me happy. I’m not a shoe girl or a serious clothes horse, but I need my purses!

And I can’t wait to carry my new one come spring! Another reason to look forward to the end of a cold, rainy winter!

Purses, beautiful purses . . .

Fridays are dangerous. And times you have Internet access (and a credit card) on Fridays are incredibly dangerous! And times we’re in an economic slump and you really should be watching your expenditures and not blowing them on Aldo purses are extremely

Okay, you follow.

Better go get lunch before I get myself in massive trouble.

Quilted class

I absolutely love this quilted pink purse — it’s by Maxx New York (if it matters). The dome shape is super classy and stylish — and since I would have to carry it on my arm, I think that probably makes it even classier! I’m also a fan of the “pop blue,” but I would have to get the pink. Even if it required me to buy an entirely new outfit just to match it.

Looking at purses on QVC is pretty much an addiction for me — plain and simple. When I find myself with five, ten or fifty minutes to kill, that’s usually where I’m going. I’m a huge fan of “easy pay” and the like — buy it now, pay for it over a period of months. Thankfully I’ve been keeping myself from making a purchase that would actually require me to pay for it over a period of months, but that day will probably come eventually. I haven’t ordered one in forever . . . and I’m compensating for that by my constant monitoring of the new arrivals! Hey, in the tight economy we’re all facing, I think it’s back to merely window-shopping (or webpage-surfing) for a while.

Bag twin!

Okay, I think my pulse literally just accelerated times one hundred million. This purse from Aldo reminds me so much of a Vera Wang bag I’ve been eyeballing, it could be its bag twin! Well, it’s certainly not a knock-off — there’s enough of a difference there to make it an entirely separate bag. But it has the lethal black-and-brown color combination by which I’ve been hypnotized! And it’s . . . well, considerably less than the one I’ve been obsessed with, waiting and waiting and waiting for it to go on sale. Of course, it never does.

I don’t know what it is with the black-and-brown bag. I was taught from the age of, oh, five that there are a few colors that should never — under any circumstances — be matched together. Like navy blue and brown. Yellow and brown. Red and brown. Well, I’m sensing a pattern here . . . brown just isn’t really a great color partner. Sure, it looks great with whites, bright blues and even pink, but black? Negative. Fashion travesty.

Again, I’m certainly no fashionista, but I like to think I have a basic understanding of what will get me shamelessly made fun of by my friend and coworker Brandon. And black and brown together would (normally) do it.

But there’s something about this bag! I love it. I. Love. It. I have to have it. But I also need to really watch what I’m spending right now, what with the unstable economy and all . . . So torn, so torn . . .

Pink Dooney lust

Okay, I’m already back to the Dooney obsession. This is what happens on pay day Fridays at work — we’re all shopping like crazy. Not that I’m actually prepared to quite shell out the $195 (plus shipping) for this gorgeous pink purse, but I can dream about it!

I love the quilt pattern to this one . . . and, of course, my eye goes straight to anything pink. I’m going to compile a list of all the handbags I’m drooling over so I can make an informed decision when I decide I’m really ready to hand over my plastic for a new one.

My only apprehension in purchasing a “fancy purse” (aside from the obvious cost) is the serious fear of actually damaging the bag in my standard, run-of-the-mill traipsing about town. I’m in and out of my car carrying cans of soda, newspapers, magazines, other totebags, and my lunch so frequently, I hate having to think about whether or not I have newsprint on my hands before I close my fingers around the pristine, gorgeous white straps of a precious Dooney or other such fancy purse. Much to my sister’s chagrin, I’m all about the ease and comfort of what I’m wearing — it needs to look fashionable for work but stay in place, stay clean and stay unwrinkled for as long as possible. I demand the same of a handbag. And when I’m constantly worrying about whether or not the oil from my own fingers will discolor the handle of my purse — which is usually overflowing with random stuff — I consider this quite an inconvenience.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to buy it.