What Does Your Bag Tell About You?

What does your bag tell about you? Personal style advice from image consultant Jenni at I on Image
What Does Your Bag Tell About You?

What Does Your Bag Tell About You?

Your bag tells a lot about you. You are making a huge style statement with your bag, regardless of it’s value and purpose. Even if you are not interested in bags, it’s interesting to know how others perceive you through your style choices.

From my previous articles you know that people make snap judgements on your appearance in seconds. This goes back all the way to caveman times and all humans are programmed to think this way. The thinking process is entirely unintentional and we shouldn’t feel guilty about it. But being aware of it is crucial.

In a nutshell, the purpose of this thinking process is to determine whether the person you meet for the first time is a good ally or an enemy. I will link the articles below this chapter so you can jog your memory.

Read the whole article about the science of first impressions

Bags As Status Symbols

Your accessories have a crucial impact on your personal image. These small details can tell more about you as a person than your whole outfit. Or they can catch someone’s eye who is very much interested in the same things as you are.

Many accessories, especially watches, jewelry and bags, are considered as status symbols. According to the science of first impressions status is important for people, even if we don’t like to admit it.

It’s not even about snobbery and expensive design items. Even a cheap or a non-branded quality bag tells a story and makes you belong somewhere. On a deep level everyone wants to be a part of something, whether it’s a social class, ideology, profession or a group of people sharing a personal interest.

Within each group people tend to value similar things and dress in a similar way. In image consulting terms it’s like reaching out an olive branch of similarity.

Read more about the high impact of your appearance

What does your bag tell about you?
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Different Types Of Bags & Their Impact On Your Image

In the next chapter I am helping you to understand that every bag choice tells something about you. You will learn about the hidden, and perhaps even unintentional, messages that you send with your bag choice.

I am also giving you some bag etiquette tips on bag choices that are not typically accepted as appropriate work bags, such as sports bags. This is because I understand that you lead a busy life and might not always have the time to go home in between activities.

Of course you want that your choice of accessories is fully aligned with your style intention. The specs of this are entirely up to you. You have full control of your personal image.

Style lessons in blog: Learn to set your style intention

1. Designer Bag

High quality items, belonging and having a status are important to you. You have worked hard for your money and like to reward yourself. Everyday aesthetics are close to your heart.

I recently learned some very interesting facts about how designer items influence your career, including your salary. The influence of logos in sight is positive (I honestly didn’t expect this), so splurge on that expensive bag and keep the logo visible.

But if you got it as a gift, keep it to yourself. People will not be impressed by your designer items if they learn that you didn’t use your own hard-earned cash to buy it.

Read more about the University of Tilburg study (2011) in Pretty Business World blog.

2. Non-Branded Bag

Status symbols and branded items have no value to you. You prefer to make an understated style statement by wearing a non-branded bag or a bag from an unknown brand.

You prefer a frugal life-style. Form and function are more important to you than big names and big price tags. In an ideal situation you’ll find a bag that has it all, except the name.

The downfall of these bags is that you can never be sure of their quality and if something goes wrong they have no customer service to help you.

Personal shopping tip: I found two of my best non-branded bags in Italy. Florence and Venice have many small artisanal leather goods shops that sell wonderful quality in an array of interesting colors.

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3. High Street Bag

You love fashion and like to be trendy without spending too much. When you see something that makes you happy, you are delighted to see that you can afford it there and then.

Other things are more important to you: Family, friends, travel, experiences and good food. You might occasionally swoon over a designer bag but forget it as soon as you see the price tag.

There is no point going in to debt over a handbag but you might also want to think about making your style choices more sustainable.

Green Style Advice: How to be a sustainable fashionista

With the money you spent on five cheap bags, that will most likely break in one season, you could have already had that designer bag you really liked. Think about that!

4. Backpack

You are always on the go and you want to keep your hands free. Hello mums, hello cyclists, hello commuters.

Schlepping a laptop, books or other heavy items on a daily basis puts a strain on your body. A backpack is an ergonomic choice and highly recommended if you are suffering any back, neck or shoulder problems.

Make sure that pick-pockets don’t have the access to your valuables behind your back. The easiest good deed of the day is to tell someone that their backpack side pocket is open and therefore vulnerable to thieves.

Remember to have some courtesy to your fellow-commuters. Nobody likes to be suffocated by your backpack in an already busy train.

5. Briefcase

Always be selling, always be closing. You mean business and there is no space for frivolities in your life. A sleek briefcase will carry all your essentials up to the C-suite where you belong from the day you were born.

When you look like a leader, people will expect you to act like one. At this stage there’s no more room for slackers. People look up to you and your job is to deliver their expectations.

Keep your briefcase contents neat and organized. Calcified mints and ancient chap sticks belong to the bin. Your old receipts should already be at your accountant or at HR waiting to be reimbursed.

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6. Sports Bag

The gym is your second home and you love to stay in shape. You are often wearing sneakers and you have done several charity runs in your company jersey.

Air your bag frequently and wash your gear after every use. Store your shoes and all wet or damp items (hello, marinated gym towel) in a special compartment or in a plastic bag.

Don’t ever bring your gym bag to the office canteen or to a restaurant. People will assume that it contains workout clothes that don’t belong to a place where people are eating.

Avoid storing work-related items in your gym bag but I understand that sometimes you have no choice. Then use a bag organizer or a plastic bag to keep these items separately.

7. Canvas Shopping Bag

Canvas shopping bags have become very popular freebies and by now everyone has at least five of them. Carrying your company’s canvas tote shows that you’re a team player and your business partners love to see you toting theirs.

There are also many really nice designs that you can buy to support your local businesses, events, charities, causes, cultural events and artists.

Canvas shopping bags have a strong eco-vibe with a warm sense of belonging to a community. While these are actually not appropriate work bags, they will help you to show your softer side.

And let’s admit it, sometimes you just need to carry an extra bag with you. This is a good way to show that you care while getting on with your daily life.

8. Plastic Shopping Bag

Spoiler alert: A plastic shopping bag is not an acceptable work bag. Nowadays it’s hardly acceptable to use a plastic bag to begin with let alone to use it as your actual bag.

Living in a very rainy country (The Netherlands) I do recognize the need to occasionally use a plastic bag to protect your valuables from getting soaked. Avoid single use plastics and re-use your plastic bag for your gym clothes for example (see point 6.)

If you don’t want to spend more than 10c on your bag, ask for a free canvas tote (see point 7.) from your business partners or from your company. They’ll love to see you wear it and it’ll make you look more eco-friendly.

Read also: 9 Tips For Finding The Right Handbag

Thank you for reading my blog! Share your thoughts about bags and personal image in comments below.

If you need a hand buying your bag, don’t hesitate to give me a shout. I am ready to go shopping with you or to give you an online consultation on best handbags.

Image Consulting and Personal Styling Blog Post Signature Jenni at I on Image

32 thoughts on “What Does Your Bag Tell About You?

  1. Enn says:

    I think I’ve had the same bag for over a year now! I need to update it! Thank you for this!

  2. I on Image says:

    Thank you Bexa, so sweet of you say! High street has a lot of great options. It’s a limited belief that only designer bags are great. If a bag has your name on it, it really doesn’t matter what price range it is xxx

  3. I on Image says:

    Glad to hear you enjoyed this Fadima! High street has so many amazing options. I have a River Island bag that I really really love, despite it’s almost a designer copy. It’s still gorgeous xxx

  4. I on Image says:

    Thank you for reading Lisa! Happy to hear you enjoyed this post. Best bags are just what you described there. Enjoy yours for years to come xxx

  5. Lisa's Notebook says:

    I think you and I are so similar, Jenni. My favourite bag (which sadly fell apart a couple of years ago) was one I found in a Florence street market too! Now I have a maroon shoulder bag which goes with everything. It’s not a designer bag but it is Italian, they have such style without all the gltiz, perfect for any occasion. Loved this post, thank you for sharing 🙂

  6. nortoncharity says:

    I love this post! I always love having different styles of bags to switch out from time to time too.

  7. sseigler2 says:

    I never really put much thought into this even though I switch up bags all the time for certain situations. I primarily use a nonbranded backpack purse. However for certain events I will grab my Coach or Dooney and Burk. If I’m going out, cute flirty bag that is eye catching. I live this post and never thought of it until now.

  8. Fadima Mooneira says:

    Cool post. I loved high street brands when it comes to hand bags. But I do have some designer brands (these are the bags I bought for myself as a reward for my hard work). However, I am not very particular about brands. I just wear whatever I can afford and comfortable with.

  9. Rayo says:

    Such an interesting post, I am someone who opts for high end street bag. Use the bag for a few years and get a new one as long as it last

  10. Kristin Harris/Tales from Home says:

    I admit that I have never really given much thought to my handbag. O just sort of get what I like at the time and then use it forever haha. I will definitely have to put a bit more thought into my next purchase though!

  11. Bexa says:

    I always buy my bags from the high street, I don’t think I could ever afford a designer bag. As long as the high street bags last a few years, are practical and good quality then I’m happy. Thanks for sharing Jenni, this is a really interesting post! <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  12. I on Image says:

    I totally agree with you Teresa! I have a couple of cheaper bags for going out and special occasions. They don’t get so much use so it’s ok. But for every day use I want a bag that lasts. Then I invest in quality.

  13. ✨Teresa Maria | Outlandish Blog✨ (@TeresamariaThe) says:

    I’m definitely one for designer bags. For too many years I spent money on fast fashion bags and endured the straps falling apart after just a year, the faux leather cracking after just couple months, and the bags just looking awful after very little time. Quality is more expensive, but it looks better, lasts and you don’t need many of them.

  14. I on Image says:

    That’s a truly wonderful minimalist and sustainable way of accessorizing! Best bags last for a long time. Keep it up Ellie xxx

  15. Ellie says:

    I found this so interesting – as someone who only has literally about 4 bags, a clutch and a leather backpack, I tend to buy high end bags but use them for like ten years! ??

  16. I on Image says:

    Lol, finding a man can be easier indeed Madi! You are now in a transition period when you are adjusting to a new lifestyle with bigger kids. I recommend a small-ish crossbody bag that works from day to night. You will have your hands free but enjoy the lighter load.

  17. Karalee says:

    I normally use high street bags, but with my last one the strap eventually broke. I have always been wanting a designed bag, but I know I would want it to be from a sustainable brand

  18. madidearson says:

    Love this post! I get so frustrated with bags. Now that my kids are grown a little, after years of carrying half of the house every time we were going somewhere with them, I just HATE carrying big bags. I always look for ones that are minimalistic but can hold all the essentials, and that I can carry in a comfortable way (I need to have my hands free). I have one that I like but it’s not the ONE yet:) finding a man was easier…
    I think I am somewhere between nonbranded and highstreet. I am definitely not in the stage of my life where I invest in designer bags. I like them to be pretty, comfy and of reasonable quality, so they are more sustainable.

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