When I’m invited to elegant lunches or cocktail parties with members of West London’s elite, my bijou Hermes Kelly bag is a must-have. It’s in vibrant yellow, high visibility, and has enough room for my phone, a small umbrella, a card holder, and not much else.
It allows me to walk around in style for a few glamorous hours, undisturbed by the trappings of everyday life, as if I’ve never left school or Pilates straight before. The requisite Kelly top handle certainly isn’t “laughably capacious.”
That’s a phrase currently circulating on social media, thanks to the latest series of hit TV drama Succession, which charts the lives of the ultra-wealthy Roy dynasty.
Chef Roy’s husband, Tom, uses it derisively to describe the Burberry bag that a party guest wraps around.
Talking to his cousin Greg, who brings his date Bridget to his billionaire uncle Logan Roy’s birthday party, Tom mocks the size of the girl’s squishy handbag and jokes that she should carry ‘flat subway shoes’ in it.
In other words, Burberry’s pedigree defines her as not very rich, but rather someone who has to take the subway. As a result, oversized bags have come under fire as the latest fad.
But true fashion insiders will attest that big is fine—as long as it’s daytime. In fact, the coolest brands—everyone from Bottega Veneta to Balenciaga—have gone big when it comes to bags this season.
But you have to go small for social events. So the real step is to use several designer bags.
Start large, and keep one inside the other like Russian dolls. Each outer shell is shed as the day goes on. Then you’ll be ready to tackle whatever event comes your way – including an encounter with Logan Roy.
I’m 5’9″, so I can get away with carrying something very commodious. And my motto is as big as you can – in life as well as in handbags.
Right now, I’m using a perforated leather Fendi bag with tortoiseshell handles, but anything spacious and weatherproof is fine. Louis Vuitton oversized brown plaid is another favorite.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to either of these, Arket or Other Stories on the High Street make roomy tote bags at more wallet-friendly prices.
Both Vuitton and Fendi are at least 40cm wide, and I’ll bet they’re just as big – if not bigger – than Bridget’s poor Burberry.
My bags are often the subject of cute ribbing, too. When someone goes silent on social media, my friends joke that I must have stashed them in one of my big suitcases. That said, those same friends have come begging to borrow a bag from me on more than one occasion. .
In addition to my selection of smaller bags, inside the larger bag you’ll find snacks for my kids, a half-eaten protein bar for me, and a book (I’m always convinced I’ll find an extra half hour).
There are no flats I’d wear for me, even though they’re all I’d wear at my height.
I’m 5’9″, so I can get away with carrying something very commodious. And my motto is as big as you can – in life as well as in handbags. Pictured: Shruti Advani
Pictured: Burberry’s Caliphate bag
The second largest bag inside My Fendi is a Louis Vuitton men’s laundry bag. In this, I stash hand sanitizer, a packet of wipes, sunglasses, hand cream, Rescue Remedy spray, and my AirPods.
I recently added Pantene’s travel-size dry shampoo, as well as a pair of leather gloves.
The next handbag in my arsenal, like the Hermes Kelly, is ornate, often expensive—and matches the day’s outfits.
These will inevitably be the ones with lots of buttons and zippers, in an eye-catching color or featuring beautiful embroidery. The kind of bag that seems completely impractical—and often ends up (top tip!) on sale as a result.
Inside the Kelly bag (or whatever the day bag is) is a small, black, quilted Chanel card holder.
These are among the cheapest items in any designer’s range, but they are undoubtedly the most useful. Mine is so old that the leather has become beautifully smooth… thus it has stretched beyond its original size.
It has different slots for my driver’s license, store loyalty cards, debit and credit cards.
That means I never fumbled with that annoying person at the turnstile on the subway, looking for a card to tap on, while everyone else just wants to catch the train.
And yes, in London everyone uses the Underground to get around the capital, so there’s no point in mocking it like Tom in Succession.
My local station serves celebrities as well as less fortunate mortals. On the one hand, I consider it a blessing of life that I never have to “take the subway” when visiting the Big Apple. A big bag might save your life if you ever find yourself forced to take a ride on one of these; Use it to ward off potential thieves.
So while Bridget in Succession wasn’t wrong with owning or indeed carrying a capacious bag, she broke the golden rule of high society: Always check your oversized bag (with your coat neatly folded inside) in the cloakroom. And remember, never take the outer bag into the inner circle.