EARTH TONES

I feel like a bit of a fraud writing about bags as I have not used one myself on a regular basis for a long time. Due to lugging my body weight in clothes around the streets of London for many many years, I found that my back was getting so bad that carrying a bag only aggravated it further. So pockets it was. I literally carry around my phone, a card wallet and a lipsalve (always a lipsalve) in my pockets and have done ever since. However, this does not mean that I cannot appreciate a good bag when I see one. I can appreciate a fantastic bag as much as the next person and my goodness there are some fine specimens out there. A bag can make an outfit, particularly in the Summer when we are generally wearing less clothes - a white shirt, good jeans and a great bag is such a chic look.

In this post I have decided to show case some high-street winners. Of course, moving up the scale in price point, there are some wonderful bags but they come with seriously hefty price tags these days. Having said that, some brilliant handbag designers have emerged in the middle market too - from Sophie Hulme to Mansur Gavriel. For the real bag lovers amongst you, Graham St will definitely cover a variety of designers and price points in due course.

First up is this perfectly formed handbag from Arket. 100% leather and made in Italy, it has that look of quality that you would expect from an Italian made bag. Its strength is in its simplicity. I personally think that if you are buying a handbag from the high street from which you are looking for longevity, then go for something that is simple in design. It is much more likely to look high-end and will last a lot longer than something that has lots of design details.

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This next handbag from COS also meets this criteria. If you regularly follow Graham St then you will know that I am a big fan of COS bags. I think that they are masters in creating good quality handbags at affordable prices but which have slightly interesting design details that stand them apart from some other high-street offerings. This handbag is a case in point. In essence it is a simple, cross-body bag but the nubuck leather finish in sage green (huge colour for this season) and the boxy shape with adjustable strap make it look fresh and modern.

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The belt bag. You either love them or you hate them. They are the Noughties take on the 80s bumbag, and not necessarily for everyone. Often worn across the body, rather than around the waist, belt bags have taken the catwalks and therefore the high-street, by storm. I for one, think that they are great. My first furore into the world of belt bags was this Christmas when I was given a pink one from COS. As I have been heavily pregnant since, I have not been able to indulge as I would have liked as I have no waist to speak of, but as soon as I have had my baby, the pink belt bag is going to be my best friend. They are perfect for someone like me that does not want to carry around alot (most things go under the buggy) and does not like to carry heavy bags on their shoulder. I find that the bigger the bag, the more you fill it.

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At £20 this Topshop handbag is an incredibly affordable option. Of course it is not made from leather and if finances allow then I would always advocate buying the natural fibre. However, for manmade fabric, this bag looks very good. I love the muted pink colour and the tortoise shell perspex handle. It is more ‘fashion forward’ in design and so is quite a fun indulgence for the Summer without breaking the bank. It can also be worn as a clutch bag with the handle dropped down over the front - great for a wedding.

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Straw bags flooded our shops this time last year and they are set to stay for this Summer too. Of course, straw bags for Summer is no new thing, but in every shape and size imaginable, this is making the difference. I am loving seeing the humble straw bag reinterpreted in a more structured ‘handbag’ style. This Zara one below is adorable. Perfect for casual and smart occasions alike and its inherently neutral colour goes with everything.

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Last but by no means least, is this circular mustard beauty from & Other Stories. Although the shape is quite a strong design detail, it is still classic in its design restraint. Smooth leather with simple top stitching, it would be perfect as a Summer bag for any occasion. Mustard looks wonderful with neutral colours - cream and white in particular, but also with navy blue. If you’re off to a wedding this season then a navy blue linen dress with this bag would work beautifully. Equally though, worn during the day with wide leg linen trousers in khaki with a white t-shirt would look fantastic too.

NB - YES! Scrunchies are back.

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Click on the brand name to be taken straight to the shopping page.

Small, pale beige leather bag, £125, Arket .

Sage green nubuck leather box bag, £99, COS .

Leather belt bag, £55, Arket .

Dusty pink bag, £20, Topshop .

Straw bag, £29.99, Zara .

Circle, structured, cross body bag, £110, & Other Stories .

Photography and artwork by Alexandra Mooney .