OK, so this is En Brogue. The flat shoe blog. Occasionally it’s about socks, once or twice shoelaces, but for the most part it’s all about the shoes, right? Well I don’t know about you, but I always match either my socks or my shoes to my bag, which makes them integral to my entire footwear wardrobe. Also, I’m very particular about what kinds of bags I like. Plus, loads of you ask me on Instagram where my bags are from so I thought it was time for a blog post on bags. Guys, it’s time!
Bag, Cambridge Satchel Company (old, see cambridgesatchel.com for similar) skirt (old), COS; shoes (old), Belle by Sigerson Morrison
Before we get into the actual bags (patience, people), let me explain what makes the perfect bag for me. Firstly, I’m mad for a cross body. I have a degenerative spinal disease called ankylosing spondylitis (one of the reasons I wear flats but don’t worry, it sounds worse than it is!) so not only does a bag have to be easy to carry, it has to be small enough that I can’t overfill it with too much crap. I’m also a big fan of rucksacks, but let’s save that for another post.
Second, I like a simple bag. I hate lots of brass and buckles – the more simple, the better – but that’s not to say that I won’t go for a print or a bright colour. My personal collection is a mixture of subtle blacks and olives, with a few statement bags in monochrome prints and bright yellows.
Also, ideally, I like to know where my bags have been made. There are lots of smaller brands out there that use sustainable leather or small artisan workshops, which is much more appealing to me as a consumer than the mass production of the high street. This is also has an effect on the price though – you’re going to have to invest if you want a good leather bag, but then it should last you decades if you look after it properly. I’m not talking the prices of designer it bags, but do think about saving up if you’re looking for something special and hardwearing. Plus, it’s a leather bag – if you think about the materials and labour involved in making it, it really shouldn’t cost any less than £50 (depending on size). I’m not saying I don’t ever shop on the high street (see below) but I’m more interested in niche sustainable brands.
Bag, Demellier London; trainers, adidas; dress, COS (all old)
Finally, I’m all for practicality, obviously, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be black or brown and large enough to house your entire make-up collection, a spare pair of shoes and the kitchen sink. Pick something that is really ‘you’, and that gives you the same buzz that a special pair of shoes does. I don’t have loads of bags, but I really, REALLY love all of them because I’ve put a lot of thought into how they will work for me, size-wise, and how well they will fit with my wardrobe.
So here you go, my guide to the best, quality cross body bags out there at the moment.
Small tote in mustard, £252 (baiabags.co.uk)
Regular followers of my Instagram account will be familiar with my Baia dalmatian spot bag (above, top), which I wear all the time. I LOVE it. It’s the perfect size and houses a small wallet, phone, sunglasses, a few bits of bobs of make-up, dog treats…I think I’ve even managed to squeeze and umbrella in there. It’s been so popular that the brand recently brought it back as part of its ‘classics’ range, which is available every season. If this style is too small for you, consider upsizing to the ‘Midi’, which is the same bag, only bigger, and is available this season in a beautiful bright yellow suede, as is another of my favourite styles, the small tote, seen here being worn by the blogger Margaret Zhang (it’s a tight squeeze, but I do wear mine across body). Baia bags are all designed in London and made in the UK.
Cambridge Satchel Company
Cambridge Satchel Company saddle bag, £150 (cambridgesatchelcompany.com)
Don’t be fooled by the name – this British brand now makes far more than just satchels, and I love the smaller sized cross bodies like my saddle bag (top). This brand plays an absolute blinder when it comes to colour choices. I mean, who knew you could get a Breton stripe bag?! Totally smitten. It makes all of its bags in the UK (it even has its own factory). Something I also love about this, and all of the brands I have featured here, is that they shoot the bags on models either on their websites or Instagram feeds, so you can see exactly how big/small they are. This is vital if you’re having to consider your old lady spinal disease!
Left, Diplo satchel, £280 (mhulot.co.uk)
M Hulot got in touch with me after I first posted about cross body bags and kindly offered me one of theirs to try. It is GORGEOUS! This is another brand that is made in the UK, and I love the rustic quality of the leather which just gets better and better with age. The style I have is no longer available, but I love this soft buttery satchel that’s from the current season.
Lost Property of London
Lost Property of London micro ‘Arlington’, from £255, and standard ‘Arlington’, £380 (lostpropertyoflondon.com)
I’ve been swooning over these bags on Instagram for years now, and I love the story with this brand. Their ethos is to use ‘zero waste’ techniques – including salvaged materials – but its suppliers are all top notch, so the quality of the bags is great. They also use vegetable tanned leather, which is much better for the environment than other techniques used to colour leather. And one of the things I love most about Lost Property of London is the amazing colours, so it’s obviously a brilliant technique, too! This style, the ‘Arlington’, comes in three sizes.
Right, The Manhattan, £225 (demellierlondon.com)
This brand used to be called Milli Millu but it recently rebranded to Demellier London. The bag I’m wearing here is no longer available but I REALLY love it! There is a similar sized style for the news season called The Manhattan and it comes in 10 different colour options (my favourite is this dusky pink) and they also do complimentary monogramming. Demellier has a number of high profile fans, including princess-to-be Meghan Markle.
I’d love to know your favourite bag brands – leave comments below!