Bag yourself some spring arm candy
As I imagine you will have noticed, there are still - despite the recession - so many It Bags (or, as I prefer to call them, Iconic Designer Bags, or IDBs) that the only people capable of distinguishing a genuine IDB from what is simply a gorgeous bag from, say, Reiss, LK Bennett or River Island, are the accessories editor at Vogue and the interns who take care of the accessories cupboards at the glossy mags, all of whom have an encyclopaedic knowledge of every top handbag collection, from Anya Hindmarch to Tod's, via Lanvin and Mulberry.
Designers, naturally, have a commercial imperative to make us dissatisfied with our current handbag; to make us feel we have to buy into the next big style or risk looking off-trend and passé. But why a significant chunk of the female population should be prepared to pay upwards of £800 for a handbag which will often be obsolete - in trend terms - by the end of the season, is still slightly baffling.
But then, I remind myself, we have all grown to truly love our mega-fabulous handbags. Part of our affection is because our handbags do not judge us. They don't care about our age: a 60-year-old can rock the Lanvin Mini Pop as well as any 25-year-old. And our handbags don't demand we be a size six to look good with a piece of ritzy arm-candy hooked in our elbow: a size 18 can be as fashion fabulous with Smythson's Nancy Tote as a size eight.
Add to that the fact that most women, me included, carry our life around in our handbag - bad news for our neck/shoulder muscles; excellent news for osteopaths and chiropractors - and our addiction to IDBs suddenly seems less irrational.
If you are buying an IDB for spring, the ones that have longevity are a better investment than this season's must-have: a quilted bag from Chanel will never really go out of style and is an heirloom for your daughters or granddaughters; the Mulberry Bayswater is a modern classic which will look as good in 10 years as it does now, as will an Hermés Kelly or Birkin, providing your constitution and bank account can withstand the shock of the price - from £5,680 for the medium-size Birkin.
The high street is, predictably, more trend led, with big, squashy hobos; structured totes; shiny doctors' bags; strappy satchels; cross-body bags; 1950s frame bags; small or oversized clutches, and endless quantities of fringeing as decoration.
River Island have carved a niche with their desirable, pricey looking designer-lookalike bags, while Reiss, Jigsaw, Hobbs, LK Bennett, Zara and Banana Republic are all good hunting grounds for well-made, stylish bags that punch above their price tags.
Whatever your budget, we have found you the pick of spring's arm candy.