Relax—Take Pride in Your Beat-Up Bags

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This motto is a far cry from what I remember when I started my career in fashion years ago. While working at a magazine, I met a woman who stuffed her Celine luggage bag with tissue paper so it wouldn’t lose shape and rubbed dirt off of it with a spit-on thumb like she was scrubbing chocolate from a toddler’s cheek. When she placed it on a table, it was as if Zazu was presenting Simba to the world. At the time, it gave me a pang of insecurity. I could not afford a Celine luggage tote, and even if I could, I did not have the mind to treat it with such care.

But maybe the time for treating bags with preciousness is over. I’ve debated getting my Vuitton schlepper repaired, but I have also been looking at old photos of Mary-Kate Olsen and her beat-up bags, specifically her notorious Balenciaga mint green tote from the early ’00s, which remains in iconic fashion forum history. The then boho-loving Olsen strutted around town with her Motorcycle bag stained with a bull’s-eye of red wine splotched onto its bottom. The bag’s dirtiness was so infamous that it came up in a 2005 profile in W magazine. “The version she’s carrying today was originally mint green, but it’s so dingy, covered with stains, pen marks, and even a chewed-up piece of gum, that it looks almost gray. ‘It explains my life,’ Olsen says, sighing, when asked about her beloved accessory’s sorry state.

Even more derelict is her large black leather Kelly bag, whose bottom has faded from black to gray with scratches. Olsen has worn it universally everywhere: out and about in a pair of slacker sweatpants and in a fur jacket as she is grabbing a Starbucks coffee. In some cases, she has used it to hide her face from the paparazzi. Though the bag costs upwards of $10,000, she treats it like the overstuffed briefcase of a used-car salesman. 

Photo: Getty Images

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