This image of Phoebe Philo, shot by Daivd Sims for Vogue in 2013, is on its way to iconic status, if not already there. Iconic images become iconic because everyone can see themselves, or see something they want to emulate, in the image. Personally, I want to emulate everything about it, except that dog-sized bag sitting at Phoebe’s feet. A fashion writer who broke down the nuances of the image after it went viral referred to the bag as “a pet sitting at her feet. ” Admittedly, the name of the writer is lost on me, but her description of the bag is branded into my brain.
I am not a pet-sized-bag-type-of-person. Instead, I am here today to do something very un-Phoebe and write an ode to the little black bag, or the LBB, as I affectionately refer to it.
The LBB is the ugly stepsister of the LBD (“little black dress,” for those of you not up to date on your acronyms). The LBD gets all the praise, all the press. It routinely ends up on every “essentials” list to help a modern woman complete her wardrobe. The accompanying bag that ends up on that same essentials list? A clunky carry-all where your entire junk drawer can easily wind up in your bag and be taken with you anywhere you go. Because every modern woman needs everything she owns with her at all times to… I dunno? Fix a tire? Arrange a bouquet? Measure Ikea furniture?
The LBB is the rallying cry against our sore backs and lost tweezers. Its size alone quietly yet boldly asks you: what is essential in your day? What will you actually touch and use inside in that Velociraptor-sized work bag? Your wallet, phone, maybe a lipstick, keys, sunglasses, air pods if we’re being millennial about it and a tampon because you’re an adult woman who has finally mastered the art of always carrying a tampon. KIDDING. No one has ever mastered that art of always having a tampon within arm’s reach and that’s okay because that’s how we bond in the women’s bathroom.
Now, with these essentials, and only these essentials, tucked into your LBB you are able to MOVE. A novel concept I prefer to partake in rather than worry where I can set my massive pet-bag down (I do not have the connections or the wealth to set my Céline bag at my feet at all times and pray it remains in an acceptable state of presentation), or wonder if my bag will fit in a crowded subway or knock over someone’s artfully whisked matcha as I navigate a coffee shop the size of a phone booth.
Further clarity was recently shed on my uneasiness about the size of women’s handbags when I read this article from The Cut questioning exactly why women tend to resemble pack mules while men put their hands in their pockets and shrug. Our bags (and thus us) should not be solely responsible for keeping the world spinning.
Okay, I will come clean and say my work bag is bigger than an LBB because it must fit my laptop. But come Friday and through the weekend, I shed that bag and my work-self for something much lighter, and ultimately much more modern in my option, a LBB.