Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gail Carriger's Epic Tote Hunt Revisited

(I posted this originally in September of 2011, and two years later, I'm still hunting. Sigh. Sometimes I am lured into almost finding it and then the quest continues . . .)

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 this. Accept no substitutes! Generally, this occurs when I already have something (or several somethings) that is/are working out OK 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 was missing its tag (I had it replaced entirely with a  YKK), 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. Do far three people have tried to, literally, buy it off my back.

Lux De Ville Sin City Kiss Lock Bag Patent Vinyl $80

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. What I ended up with instead are these steampunk-ish Sam Edelmen's which I love.

In the end I found the hunters this last year in both leather and fake. I bought the fake but never wore them because I would wear the Edelmen instead.

Well, Fashionable Reader, the Epic Hunt continues!

I didn't even realize it until I was in the middle of it (that happens sometimes).

Tote, I may be looking for the impossible. I do have a substitute tote I've been traveling with but it's neither nylon nor leather, so it (like all the others) is beginning to shred and fall apart.

Tote must be . . .
  • Black
  • Look enough like a purse to pass as a purse for a "personal item" carry-on
  • 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 strap (to slide over handle of rolling luggage)
  • Wide enough bottom not to tip over when put down
  • Or so floppy in folds away into nothingness
  • About 20" long by at least 10" deep 
  • Not tippy when set down!
Things I'd really like, but seem unlikely . . .
  • Retro touches
  • Large front slide pocket (to hold a magazine)
  • Single strap or strap hooks (doubles always fall off my shoulder) 
  • No flaps (flaps get in the way)
  • Light colored interior, so I can see inside
That's not too much to ask, is it?

Well I found one almost-perfect at Ross . . . but in dark brown. And I found this one on Amazon, had almost everything I wanted, but not all that pretty.

I bought it and then returned it because it was way too small for my needs.

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 any functional bells and whistles. 
  • Heaven forefend we attempt to combine style and practicality.
Oh, I see, I'm having an Alexia moment!

So what about you, Fashionable Reader, any Epic Hunts on at the moment?

Epic Hunt successes you'd like to brag about?

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.


  1. This may seem like an odd suggestion, but have you tried diaper bags? There's been a movement recently to make them look less like diaper bags and more like messenger bags, totes, or large purses.

  2. How about this? It's bit gothic, but...

    1. Fake leather, it'll fall apart in three uses. Sad but true.

  3. You totally need a diaper bag!

    like this!

    1. Diaper bags are almost there except they lack the key handle sleeve. Everything not luggage specific lacks the key handle sleeve.

    2. is the handle sleeve the thing that would hook onto your luggage?

  4. Except for the leather look, I think this one might have everything you need.

  5. Our JuJuBe diaper bag could be extremely easily modified to change the diaper pad sleeve into the back sleeve for a rolling bag handle to go through. It'd just take one cut and some bias tape over the raw edge. One note, though: the front flaps are magnetic, which is super except when you're wearing it and you brush against anything ferrous.

  6. I'm on an Epic Hunt for flattering ankle-high boots. I need them to be a color that will match most of my wardrobe, regardless of season, and with a low heel, but not completely flat. I wish you the best of luck with your Epic Hunt! And Happy New Year!

  7. I went on an epic hunt for a pair of long casual boots. I'm flat footed so they either had to have enough support or take my orthotics. I'm short, so too long and they're get in the way of my knee. I wanted a casual look in particular and I had big calves, which have only got bigger since I've taken up tap dancing. After finding that last fact out, after a three year search I gave up and git a pair of ankle boots that look a lot more formal than I was after - but at least I can do the zips up.

  8. I also engaged in an epic hunt for a leather bomber jacket with a Steampunk feel and ultimately found the perfect one. It fit beautifully and felt lovely but after starting my dancing, my rack grew 2" (they promised the opposite would happen) and I can't do the zip up anymore. :(

    1. Oh, Salsta, that's EXACTLY what happened to me! 2" might not seem like much, but when you are already huge, suddenly the fact that few things fit turns into nothing fitting at all!

  9. I have a Petunia Picklebottom ( diaper bag, which I got at Nordstrom Rack about 2 years ago, that came with clip-on straps that can be used to secure it to a stroller--possibly adaptable to luggage. Actually, come to think of it, the hobo strap (about 6" long, as opposed to the cross-body strap--it comes with both, interchangable) would probably just loop over a roller luggage handle.

  10. My friend Andrea just started her company and she does bags and jewelry, I think the Sheiga bag is quite close to what you are looking for!tienda-sheiga/ckkb and she does custom work so you can ask for pockets and zipper and materials.
    She works with leftover material from local big companies, so she has access to quality material at a reasonable cost (and less landfill for everyone).
    In the "Almacén" section you can see some of the textiles available. She also uses leather.
    The downside is she's in Spain so I'm afraid the shipping would cost almost as much as the bag :(

  11. Miss. Carriger, may I recommend this to you? I have many of their bags and they are usually washable (after taking out the reinforced bottoms, wear like iron, and while this is the black you requested, you can usually get it in other fun prints. Not cheap but will not fall apart after two or three uses.


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