Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gail Carriger Demands More from a Tote

Periodically, I will go on an Epic Hunt, Fashionable Reader. These are shopping quests where I just keep searching, sometimes for years, for the perfect item. I can imagine Lord Akeldama might do something like. Accept no substitutes! Generally, this occurs when I already have something (or several somethings) that is/are working out but I really want the ultimate perfect item. What can I say? I'm a consumer.

In recent memory . . .

The perfect motorcycle jacket. I wanted a bi-color (red and black) retro motocross style, that fit the Rack. After two years hunting I found mine, which looks very like the one above, in Exeter at the Real MaCoy's for 15 quid. I didn't get the red and black, and the zipper's missing its tag, but I still have and love this jacket. The white stripes continue down the back, giving it a skunk effect, but also improving visibility on the road.

The perfect red retro bag. Needed to be the right red for all my other accessories, big enough to hold a paperback, shiny, and cute. Took me only a month to find, but I did get it online, and I paid mint for it. I was desperate, which must be my excuse.

Men's style hunter boots (sometimes called dressage boots in the US) but in a woman's size and cut. Inspired by pretty much every hero of every BBC costume drama, I have wanted a pair of these boots for nearly fifteen years now. I still haven't found them. What I ended up with instead are these steampunk-ish Sam Edelmen's which I love. So I'm happy to keep looking idly for the hunters.

Well, Fashionable Reader, the Epic Hunt is back on!

And I didn't even realize it until I was int he middle of it (that happens sometimes).

This time it is for a tote. And like the bra of yesterday's entry, I may be looking for the impossible. Although this is far less frustrating, as I do have a substitute tote I've been traveling with for the past ten years. (It's starting to fall apart, though.)

Tote must be . . .
  • Black
  • Look enough like a purse to pass as a purse for the plane
  • Leather (or something equally cool & strong)
  • Zipper top (for security overseas)
  • Smaller front secure pocket (to hold passport and ticket)
  • Back zipper-bottom pocket, or handle hook (to slide over handle of luggage)
  • Wide enough bottom not to tip over when put down
Things I'd really like, but seem unlikely . . .
  • Retro touches
  • Large front slide pocket (to hold a magazine)
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Single strap or strap hooks (doubles always fall off my shoulder) 
  • No flaps (flaps get in the way)
That's not too much to ask, is it?

Well I found one almost-perfect at Ross the other day . . . but in dark brown. And I found this one on Amazon, has almost everything I want, but it's not all that pretty. I'm keeping it in reserve if all other avenues fail.

I suppose I'm mostly having one of those moments when I notice fashion designers have gotten into a rut.
  • Luggage has to look luggagey. 
  • Totes have to have two straps. 
  • Pretty purses can't have all the extra functional bells and whistles. 
  • Heaven forefend we attempt to combine style and practicality.
Oh, I see, I'm having an Alexia moment!


  1. I am always on an Epic Hunt for the perfect B&W striped blazer. What can I say? I've watched Beetlejuice many, many times.

    Have you looked on Etsy for the Perfect Tote? I know there are some wonderful ones on there, thanks to a friend who is also always on the lookout for a Perfect Tote.

  2. I. Want. That. Red. Purse.
    Enough said.

  3. Jessica, it's not cheap at $66 but I can recommend it highly. Beautiful red color, well made, inner zipper pocket, nice size, lining is leopard print!

  4. I have been on the hunt for the perfect coat for decades. I'd rather not have a coat at all than compromise.

    I have given up on the perfect knee feet are tiny but my walking and hiking calves are mighty.

  5. The Namaste Hermosa tote serves me well - I supply my own laptop sleeve, and the lining is wipeable and water resistant. It also has little feet to protect the bottom, and the side pocket holds my ever present umbrella. My other friends swear by the Monroe, which is slightly smaller, but the Hermosa fits both knitting and laptop, and I've been very happy with it.

  6. The perfect, comfortable black knee-high boots. I had ones that I wore so often I literally wore the heels down to the metal. ~sigh~ And I thought I found their replacement but discovered that, now that I've gotten out of the habit of wearing heels, they hurt. A lot.

    And I agree with you: purses are horrible nowadays. Usually cute ones are completely and utterly useless for an actual adult to use. I finally broke down and bought a cute lunchbox that works really well as a purse:

    It's a pretty sad day when a lunch bag is more useful and cuter than most purses are...

  7. I'm always, ALWAYS on the epic hunt for The Perfect Formal Gown/Dress

    Must be -


    2: Must have sleeves or a jacket. Not a shrug or those tiny little coats. There's too much of a risk it won't hide everything. Jacket should fall at or below the hips. Sleeves should could at LEAST to the top of the elbows or to the wrists. No capped sleeves or 3/4s sleeves. The former makes fat arms look fatter. The latter looks too casual.

    3: As much as I hate them - one of those stupid empire waists. I think they make me look pregnant and make the dresses uncomfortable to wear. However, mom's crazy about them on me and sometimes it's just easier to make her happy.

    (What I'd prefer actually is what I call a "dropped V" waist. In the '80s I bought some dresses with this style. The waist was at the waist on the hips, but in the front and back dropped down into a V shape and the point of the V came down just an inch or two below my crotch area. It was way more flattering then the empire waist. Of course, I was 100 pounds lighter then, but I was still 30 pounds overweight.)

    4: Either a 1940s style or 1970s style. I hate the hippie styles of the 60s and as much as I love Lucy, I don't really think the 50s styles are for me.

    5: A sweet heart neckline, just because I love them. If I have to put up with a stupid empire waist I should at least have the neckline I want.

    6: Ankle length. I hate my legs and I hate wearing anything that shows them. But I need it up high enough I won't trip on it even if I take my heels off.

    (Okay, apparently original post was too big so I have to break it into two.)

  8. (To Continue)

    This is why I've been so depressed. I had a special ticket to go meet Barry Manilow and I wanted a really knock out gown. (Some people go in to meet him in old worn out jeans and t-shirts. Can you believe it?) Instead I had to have an old black dress I got at Burlington's altered a bit. (Even I had to admit it was a bit too big on me.) I hate that dress, mom adores it. (Which is probably what makes me hate it even more.) It's an empire waist, shows off my fat calves, V-neck, and I have to wear a shrug with it because of course it's sleeveless. I thought I looked terrible in it. Then of course the room I went in where he was had this big bunch of lilies in it and I'm violently allergic. Even he panicked when I said something.

    So hated dress and lilies. Great night, huh?

    Yeah, so that's my epic hunt. I've actually been doing it for years, since the first time I was to meet Barry back in 2009. That time I had to go with this "mother of the bride" dress from David's Bridal. Ug.

    I wanted to wear my purple vintage disco dress because even though it shows my ugly legs and doesn't have a sweetheart neckline I think I look good in it. Mom freaked out. You'd think she was Alexia and I had just dunked a big old chocolate cookie into my tea or something.

    ANYWAY - If you ever want to look for your motorcycle jacket again, Gail, there's this vintage store I know of - I haven't been in it because it specializes in motorcycle and surfer wear - plus I guess some skateboarding stuff too. It's called Captain's Helm.

    The original is in Oceanside but there's also one in my hometown of Costa Mesa. Actually not far from my house. But the Oceanside one is probably bigger. Heck, since they do the motorcycle thing I bet they might have the type of tote you want! I'm sure there must be totes that double as purses for motorcycle riding women.

    Like I said, haven't been there. I drive pass the one here going and coming from work. I kind of want to go but not by myself. Sometimes they'll have a pretty dress - way too small for me - out on their dummy that makes me want to stop and look. But some of the reviews I've read said their staff can have attitude problems and since I can have a really rotten temper I don't want to risk blowing up at someone.

    Who knows, they might have what you want available online. Then you don't have to worry.

  9. I've gone on an Epic Hunt for the perfect pair of penny loafers, and hopefully I found a good pair at JCPenney. I ordered them online and they should be coming sometime this week. I'm quite excited. :D Good luck on the perfect tote! My mom undertook a similar quest a few months ago.

  10. I'm about to restart my annual quest for a pair of good, comfortable tall boots that fit my calves and don't squeeze my toes. Oh, and also sleek enough that I can wear them with professional clothes. No doc martin soles (I love them, but not for the office), no dominatrix straps, no granny laces, no platforms. If I follow the usual pattern I'll try every department store and shoe store at two large malls, then give up. Maybe this year...

  11. The black bag right below the red one in the group of pictures, looks a lot like my Bagalinni which I use all the time and for everything.

    And if you really want to play, try plus they are having a sale.

  12. i'm currently desperately trying to find a new purse thing. i want something along the lines of a leather steampunk-able satchel, but not in the epic price range.
    yeah... wish me luck.

    in the hunt for your tote, might I recommend to your attention. That's where the current purse-thing came from and I've been very happy with it. But it's age is beginning to tell. I've had it several years and use it daily. it's a hard life for a bag.

  13. Getting a handbag or tote that combines style and practicality can be very very hard, and it has nothing to do with the price tag.

    I got my current red handbag in Melbourne when I attended Aussiecon 4.

  14. I buy Liz Lisa bags from Japan, but it is expensive to have them forwarded here, fair warning. But they do nice large bags that you can get a lot of stuff in that are not OPEN at the top. As a frequent rider of Northern California public transit, I detest bucket-shaped open purses with a single snap at the top or nothing at all because the fine art of pickpocketing is very much alive in SF and with a purse a hand can slip into, you may find yourself missing your wallet or smartphone without ever feeling it!

  15. I thought I was the only one!

    1) I recently (4 hours ago!) found one of my epic hunt items. I've wanted a pair of bone lace-up flat- to low-heeled boots for about a year that were also made by a somewhat eco-friendly and socially conscious company. I found them at Shoemania in Union Square, Manhattan.

    2) A vintage or vintage inspired shirt-dress WITHOUT an elastic waist. I can handle skirts with elastic waists, but I prefer my dresses have a well-sewn and sturdy silhouette. I would prefer it was made from silk, cotton, rayon, or tencel, but NOT polyester chiffon.

    3) My latest obsession is a maxi skirt with the versatility of a favorite pair of jeans. It would ideally have a good weight to it, nothing too light. I've been looking on steampunkemporium, and their skirts just seem a little too costume-like. I like the shape of Christian Sirano's neon skirt, but its definitely out my price range.

  16. For boots: Frye has some excellent boots! They all made in the US out of real leather so they aren't cheap :(. I've been lusting after 2 pairs for about 3 years. Although neither of them really fit my calves which always stops me from buying them! Boo.

    For tote: I really like Coach for purses, you might like their Jayden Carryall purse.

    For the record, neither Coach nor Frye know who I am I just really like their stuff. However if either company wants to send me free purses or boots (respectively) I'm totally open to that! :)


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