After several years of featuring handbags that actually are hand-carried or that bear short straps that tuck them closely under an arm, accessory designers from Coach to Chanel are once again becoming more generous with the length of handbag straps, allowing the bags to be worn messenger-style.
For travelers like me, this is a most welcome revival of a practical and desirable design feature. With the strap worn across the body, instead of dangling from a shoulder, there is no danger of the bag slipping off the arm. The bag allows for completely hands-free activity.
The strap also functions to pull the wearer’s garments close to the body, and in that manner, actually can be an extremely flattering accessory. The bag itself may be relatively modest in size, as pictured below right; notice here that the strap is actually a chain.
[Chanel bags pictured in the December 2007 issue of Harper’s Bazaar;
photos by Camilla Akrans.]
But that same strap or chain across the body can interfere with several jewelry styles, and it’s important to see how the new trend in handbags may affect jewelry selection.
First, and speaking from experience, I can vouch for the fact that long necklaces, especially chains worn doubled or tripled around the neck, are a poor choice because of the very real potential for getting the necklace tangled with the strap or chain of the bag. It’s also distracting for the viewer to see those accessory details competing with one another.
Second, be cautious about catching the messenger-style strap on a brooch worn on the bodice or lapel. The result can be disastrous for the brooch. I’ve been there, done that too.
Better choices in jewelry to accompany this style of bag are shorter choker and princess-length necklaces and jewelry worn away from the bodice, such as bracelets. One important styling detail: The width and level of refinement of the strap or chain on the bag should serve as a reference for the size and level of refinement of the jewelry to be worn with the bag. Notice how Bazaar pairs wide cuff bracelets with the thick strap of the larger bag, but shows only fine design detail (which is actually on the garment) with the fine chain of the smaller bag.
Another great way to accessorize messenger-style bags made of softer material that conforms to the body is to pin one or more brooches directly on the bag.
Keep an eye on fashion trends and help your customers not only develop good working jewelry wardrobes but also use them creatively for maximum versatility and maximum enjoyment.