chic ~~ the straw handbag

It is mid-May and it is time to enjoy the warm, sunny days…when it’s not freezing.  I have thought about my summer handbag(s).  And while I love carrying my red, pink, or orange leather bags during the summer months, nothing says cool and chic during this time than a straw handbag.

Of course I adore the vintage variation…the straw “pocketbook”, if you will (recently saw this style at TJMaxx for under $20.00 and Kate Spade as some similar looks).  I inherited my Grandmother’s  “Made in Hong Kong”  coated straw purse long ago and I love using it.  However, the handles are fragile so I am careful not to use it too often.  I am still trying to figure out a plan for saving or replacing the straps.

I recently found this flawless gem at a resale store…she’ll be in my Etsy shop soon.  Love the handles:


As much as I love the look of the vintage straw pocketbook, their styling is not always advantageous.  For example, being able to wear a bag on my shoulder is important for day-to-day function.   This straw bag from Talbots fits more with my modern chic style:

Paper Straw Rope-Handle Hobo

Adore!!  Alors…I do not want to spend the money because heaven knows, as do most of you, I have more than enough handbags and I have spent more than I care to share on them through the years.  Nevermind that they were always a “GREAT” deal.

But, as you can imagine, I had a hard time getting the Talbots bag out of my noggin.  I decided to look around on Etsy to see if I could find anything like it.  I knew from my exhaustive “purse searches” that there were a couple of vintage brands that made some very “now” looking straw bags (Etienne Aigner and John Romain to name a couple).  While doing a search I came across this beauty by Susan Gail:

Vintage Susan Gail Large Straw Tan Leather Shopper Tote Handbag

Hobo-ish and very neutral.  Only $30.  Done.  I haven’t used it yet but it is on my agenda for the end of the month.

I love the guidance given by Ms. Darxiaux in her book “A Guide to Elegance” on how to wear/select a straw bag:

“For the summer, a beige straw handbag, which can be of a rather coarse weave if you spend your summers in the country, or of a finer texture, such as Panama, if you stay in town. In any case, a straw handbag is an indispensable accessory to summery cotton and linen dresses.”

She’s French so she should know.  Really, how can you not think of France when you think of straw totes and handbags?  I usually envision women of Southern France touting this style mais au contraire!  In her book, “Parisian Chic”,  Ines de la Fressange listed a straw bag as one of the “essentials” for the Paris woman too:

“Your summer friend, à la Bardot in Saint-Trop’.   Parisiennes carry theirs around town, for a touch of offbeat chic.  A guaranteed style statement.”

With everything “straw bags” running through my mind, imagine my surprise when I attended my neighbor’s (Ellen Alive!) craft show/bazaar and there was a vendor there from Kenya selling…can you guess?…straw tote bags!  The prices were super cheap so I snapped up a couple…one for me and one for my mom.  A few days later I contacted the gal to see about getting some more as gifts.  She ended up coming to my house with her “stash” so I could give some friends the opportunity to shop too.  These are great to use as grocery totes or take to the beach.  But stylish enough to use as a summer handbag.


One of my selections:


I will be using this as a tote this summer.  A couple of others are stashed in the car for grocery shopping.  This plan is two-fold: 1. To pretend I am shopping in French outdoor markets and 2. To save the planet.  In that order.

Do you change up your handbag for summer?  Do you like the look of a straw bag?



27 thoughts on “chic ~~ the straw handbag

  1. Heather, you really are a woman of beautiful bags. Each post gives us some beauty, some little gem. These straw bags I love, you just buy one. I really like the third photo, it’s beautiful. You are special, you are a daily surprise.


    • I love the third photo too (the straw and red)…so classy! However, I recently bought a red bag and I didn’t want two of them. I am very happy with the one I found on Etsy and I am looking forward to using it soon. Thank you for your kind comments!


    • Thanks, Tamera. I love the ones with flowers on them and the pocketbook ones that have seashells on the front. Do you know which kind I mean? I LOVE the hobo I got too. : )


  2. I loved the straw tote bags I saw at a fleamarket in Bordeaux last year, but not enough to pay the price they were asking. I love straw bags and linen clothes to celebrate spring and summer, but you don’t see a lot of straw accessories here in Britain – I think it’s too damp to trust they will last?


    • I live far enough North that seeing straw bags isn’t a common occurrence here either. Once in a while I will see a sharp dresser sporting one…or more commonly a linen handbag. I always like it when I see it on others.


  3. I have two Kate Spade wicker handbags. I suppose they’re considered vintage now. But when I bought them, Kate was actually designing the collection. Time to get them down. My black patent is looking too heavy for the season!! Love, love your new lack tote. So chic!!


    • Kate Spade makes darling straw bags. I have also noticed some cute Michael Kors ones. Yes, you need to get them out and love them.


  4. Love your bags …. you’re like me *smile .. your straw bag is more beautiful then the modern version.
    By the way … I have watched all the Annika Bengtzen movie – brilliant, I can’t understand how I missed them last year when they was aired over here, probably too busy with my blog. *smile Wish you a pleasant weekend.


    • Like minds, like minds.

      Happy you enjoyed the Annika series. It was fun seeing a show set in your homeland. : )


  5. And I thought your modelling days were over! But no! Love the pose. I am so lazy that I still lug my black leather bag around if only because it holds all my junk. However, I do have a couple of straw totes that I use to store stuff in around the house. Having seen your lovely bags I might dust one of them off and take it for a spin.


    • The photo was taken last year…in the height of my JCPenney modeling days (teehee!). I think I was swatting away a bug or something. I hope you do dust off one of your straw totes and “lighten” up for the summer. : )


  6. I can see you now strolling the aisles at Village Market whistling a snappy French song, your straw bag at the ready wearing a beret. I’ll pretend I don’t know you. hehe


    • Good plan….however, even I do not possess enough imagination to change the Village Market into a French one.


  7. Yes, I use a light colored weaved hobo bag in the summer. I’ve had it for about 4 or 5 years and it is getting a little worn looking. Right now I’m using a bright bag with a shoulder strap so I can cross body and have hands free. Once June comes I’ll switch to the straw bag. I almost bought a white Coach bag at a second hand store for $75 but ended up getting the faux leather (melon) for $35. I may still go back and buy that Coach bag if it’s still there. We can never have too many, right? Thanks for sharing your finds.


    • My red leather bag I got in the Spring has the cross-body option…I love that. White bags scare me. I would always be fearful that I would get it marked up and it would start looking ratty tatty–like in 2 days. Sounds like you are braver and chic-er than I. Maybe the Coach bag has your name on it?


  8. You look like you’ve just stepped out of a Doris Day movie 😀 Lovely!
    I love your new tote and I know why you like it!! Every summer I think about getting myself one of these 😉
    Great choice! Have a very HAPPY weekend! 🙂


  9. Pingback: chic ~~ at play with my “new” summer handbag | vintage french chic

  10. I was obsessed with the same Talbots bag! I looked at about 2000 (!!!) bags online, from ebags, Kate Spade, NM, zappos, amazon, j crew… but found nothing I liked as much. So then, I went back to to buy it, and it was GONE! All sold out! ha ha So, on a whim, I decided to peek in my local Talbots store, and sure enough, they had about 3 left! Whew! And it was the last day of their Spring 30% off sale, so extra score! I love it, and am happy I bought it. I wear it with the red patent Farrah gold ladybug slides in “poppy”. I’ve gotten lot of compliments on it, so, it was worth the trouble! 🙂


    • YAAAY! Good for you…so glad you found it and got it. If you obsess about a bag that much…it MUST be had. It is a super sharp looking bag. I had to talk myself out of it 100x….seriously. I am very happy, however, with my vintage Susan Gail. Thanks for stopping by!


  11. Just for fun… This is really the only other bag I considered. It’s designed so well, it could totally fit in with your classic straw bags Hall of Fame! It was only $15 plus S/H! It was a steal, but I think I was afraid it a.) might be too small and b.) might take too long to arrive from Canada (I needed the bag for an outfit for an event). Plus, finding items in the right shade of red is difficult to do online. I needed to see it in person. It just sold 4 days ago, and time will tell if I regret not snagging it as well for only fifteen bucks, but some lucky person on ebay got a great deal! Some even smarter handbag designer should come out with this look again!


    • Yes, that was super cute too.

      Sad little confession time…I bought the Talbots bag after your last comment. Sucker for sales…what can I say? I am demented.


      • But I got the sale price AND 15% off for Birthday month and another 5% for using my Talbots card. They should have just given in to me…good grief.


  12. Pingback: french friday ~~ a vintage french chic giveaway | vintage french chic

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