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