What Does Your Bag Tell About You?

What Does Your Bag Tell About You?
What Does Your Bag Tell About You? – Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

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 or their impact on your personal image, it’s interesting to know how others perceive you through your bag style choices.

Every aspect about you, from your communication to your appearance, sends a non-verbal message to others. Even a lack of sending an intentional message is a message, sometimes even more powerful than a meticulously planned one.

Luckily we’re only talking about bags in here but the thinking process follows the same pattern regardless of what element about a person is under the lense: Status , health, wealth etc. I am always hoping that we would be past these judgements but sadly that is not the case. Perhaps it never will. However we can always make a statement with what we are wearing, or in this case, carrying.

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. This has a possibility to strengthen your relationship and take it from a conversational one to a deeper, more meaningful one.

Was I really talking about bags just there? Do they really have that much power?

Many accessories, especially watches, jewelry and bags, are considered desirable status symbols. According to the science of first impressions, status is important for all people, even if we don’t like to admit it. It’s more about how our brain organizes the information received, to put it in context.

I would like to add, that 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.

Some people feel drawn towards conventional values, and some feel more excited about disruption. 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.

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 also learn about the hidden, and perhaps even unintentional, messages that you are sending to others 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.

1. The Luxe 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 with a truly luxurious designer bag. Everyday aesthetics are close to your heart and you appreciate skilled craftmanship.

I read 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.

With the popularity of bag rental services and pre-loved designer bag market, these coveted gems are now in reach of more people than ever before. We can no longer assume that a person rocking a designer bag is automatically rich. We better hope that they didn’t shop themselves into debt with the current skyhigh prices, I’m sure that most people can’t just rock up and buy a designer bag without further planning.

Luxury bag titans Chanel and Hermès are known for insane price increases, sometimes in double-digit percentages. It has been speculated that rather than paying better wages or making higher profits, the aim is to out-price the middle-class buyers and therefore make the brand more appealing to the super-wealthy, who typically desire exclusivity. I don’t know about you, but I’m out-priced of this game!

2. Quiet Luxury Bag

Flashy status symbols and easily recognizable 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 a less-known or emerging brand. You prefer a frugal life-style and no-fuss approach to 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.

The downfall of these bags is that you can’t always be sure of their quality and if something goes wrong they might not have customer service to help you. But if you find a real gem, it will serve you for years to come. There are also many mid-range quiet luxury bag brands out there, who make fabulous quality and amazing designs, but skip the brash designer bag vibe.

My favorite is hands down British bag brand DeMellier that makes gorgeous designs that ooze style without screaming. Arket also has a lovely range of bag options that look super stylish without the insane price tag.

3. Cheap & Cheerful 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, going out, paying for experiences and good food. You might occasionally swoon over a designer bag but forget it as soon as you see the price tag.

Reality check: 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. With the money you spent on five cheap bags, that might even break in one season, you could have already had that designer bag you really liked. Think about that!

The best idea is to find a high-street bag that is still good quality, and that you will wear a lot. Shopping high-street is after all big fun and there’s a lot of choice. I always find that Mango, &OtherStories and COS make lovely designs at a fairly affordable price point. The quality is pretty ok too!

4. Backpack

You are always on the go and you want to keep your hands free. Hello fellow mums, cyclists and 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 in the tram 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, among other things. But as a super efficient alpha-female, you’ll have everything under control, no matter what time zone you’re in.

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. The content of your briefcase should reflect 100% your personal brand at all times.

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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.

Avoid bringing 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 Tote 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 you see them everywhere! And let’s admit it, sometimes you just need to carry an extra bag with you.

8. Plastic Shopping Bag

Spoiler alert: A plastic shopping bag is not an acceptable work bag in any job. 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 a lot on your bag, opt for a more sustainable canvas tote (see point 7.). You will probably get a freebie canvas tote from your business partners, from your company or as a gift with your purchase. You could also buy a charity tote to support a cause that you believe in. They’ll love to see you wear it and it’ll make you look more eco-friendly than a plastic bag. Being vocal about things that matter to you is a mega-trend and will put you in a right tribe in no time.

Thank you for reading my blog. Share your thoughts about bags and personal image in comments below. Is this all just over-thinking or do I really have a point in here? In which bag camp do you belong? I think that in my dreams I am designer bag type but in reality high street!

This post was originally posted on 17th February 2020 and updated on 18th March 2024.

Jenni @ I on Image - Content Creator Fuelled by Fashion

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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