Hermes Kelly 28 up for grabs

My Kelly bag fixation is a well known among my friends and my LSH (long suffering husband) tolerates it rather well. They have all learned, to feign a keen interest on my long, Kelly bag related, monologues.

Over time, I acquired a small (but beautifully formed!) vintage collection. The trouble with vintage is that because each bag is so unique, it’s easy to hoard and overbuy. How many Kelly bags does my wardrobe really need? Is it the right time to simplify and replenish?

Practicality aside, Kelly bags are an acquisition of love, either you love them or you don’t. Which makes it all the harder to let them go.

How to choose your Kelly bag
There are almost infinite combinations of size, colour and type of leather, but will focus on the basics

Retourner or sellier?
The typical Kelly addict will tell you in some detail that retourner bags are softer and turned inside out once stitched. You can easily tell a retourner bag because it has more relaxed  contours. Piping is also a give away detail.
Sellier Kellys are stitched on the outside and have hard edges, a much more architectural look. If that makes no sense, have a quick study of the photo below. Ok?

Comparison shot of kelly sellier (left) and kelly retourner 32.

Comparison shot of kelly sellier (left) and kelly retourner 32. As you can see, visually the retourner is smaller than the sellier. Both of these are vintage box with single rings.

Size 28 or 32?
Size of course matters and the most usual ones are 28cm or 32cm base. The proportion varies slightly and an experienced Kelly addict can tell the size from a photo. I have both 28 and 32 and like them very much. To be quite honest, there is not much difference in capacity. I generally avoid carrying too much in my Kellys as they are vintage and I don’t like to stretch them out.

1950's Kelly 28 sellier

1950’s Kelly 28 sellier. This has been redyed black and is beautifully shiny.

Other sizes, special uses
Naturally, there are many other sizes available, (35cm, 25cm, 20cm even tiny 15 cm.) The smaller ones look cute, though I find them more of a novelty rather than a ‘real’ bag. On rarer occasions one may also come across the Kelly pochette style, (which is quite a different design to the original Kelly, the pochette was adapted by Jean-Paul Gaultier especially for Hermès in the late 1990s) but can fulfil the role of a good clutch bag. I ask you, who doesnt need a Kelly clutch bag these days?

kelly clutch

kelly clutch, seen here used formally for a walk among leaves, as you do…I use mine more casually, capacity is little more than a big wallet, fits iphone, glasses, and card case. Oh yes – and lipbalm.

Choice of Bijouterie
Gold or silver? I have no preference, love them both- however I do know some ladies who feel passionately about that and are prepared to go to war on the subject. Rosie will not touch gold (so vulgar!) and Hetty thinks silver takes away from the authentic look.

Handheld or strap?
None of my vintage Kellys came with a strap, my own preference is  to carry  them “ladylike” style by the handle, no to twilly, yes to gloves! I have on occasion, borrowed my sisters ‘contrasting’ strap to test mine – actually the strap makes up for convenience what one may be missing in poise. A strap is really useful for travel, however still not keen on the look myself. I also dislike the “look” when people leave their bag dangling open and pull the sides out like wings. Cruelty to bags people, cruelty to bags!

Do you like charms hanging off your precious bag? Or the addition of a splash of colour with a silk twilly on the handle? I must admit to be rather the austere type – like my bags plain, nothing hanging on them. Many enjoy the addition of little extras though and a silk twilly can actually protect the handle from discolouration, as well. Here are some tips from silkpathdiary blog.

Silkpath diary Kelly with twilly
Choice of leather
Now that is a subject fit for a book, an encyclopaedia even, rather than a mere blog post. Hermes leathers are known for being superior to anything else, man has ever come across. Think of your lifestyle (do you live in a rainy place? Tropical? Snow?) and your personality (easy going? Doesn’t mind scratches and a lived in look? Or anything less than pristine drives you mental? Do you walk or cycle to work or get picked up in a Chaufer driven limo?) Subsequently feel free to ignore the ‘right’ leather and choose something you utterly adore. My only criteria is no reptiles, we have to have some standards! Whatever leather you choose, bi-annual maintenance is a matter of urgency. Education is key, as well as choosing the right products for cleaning and nourishing the leather. There is no point in having expensive, quality items if we are not prepared to look after them. Space is another consideration, many a Kelly bag has languished squished in an airless wardrobe. Our Kelly bags need regular outings to stay happy!

I could go on, but I take pity on our dear readers, plus my LSH is shouting at me to get off the iPad, and take a break – he is pouring me a glass of something deliciously festive – I hope you take a break too. I still have no idea what is the optimum number of Kelly bags a girl needs, but I do know I have too many. And Santa is bringing a new one for Christmas- apparently! Naughty Santa!

After much deliberation I will be rehoming my very vintage 28. She needs a loving home and get in touch if you have space for her...I am keen to find her the right place.

After much deliberation, I will be rehoming my very vintage 28. She needs a loving home and get in touch if you have space for her…Offers Over £600 but I  am keen to find her the right place please contact me for details. Perfect bag to take out to dinner- anywhere! (will be in touch after Christmas, thank you to everyone who send their offers through!)

© Ladysarahinlondon
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12 thoughts on “How many Kelly bags does a girl need? part #1

  1. Virginia

    A lady needs exactly as many Kelly’s as she desires and can afford!! I dream of a 32 or maybe a 35 with Palladian hardware (silver tone only for me). And, of course, color !! A sellier in Indigo would be lovely, a retourne in cylamen, or Rouge Hermes, and a nice silver/grey (graphite, paris grey?). Uncertain regarding leather, but I’m flexible (except reptile, also). Looking forward to your new Christmas Kelly reveal 🎅

  2. dottoressa

    Congratulation on your new Kelly. Santa is very good! I’m curious,too
    I agree with Virginia about the number 🙂
    And every colour is good,as long as it’s black! Just joking,I’d love to see navy/indigo,taupe,red…..
    You are buying vintage Kelly’s,so there is no reason for Kelly fasting and I could understand collectors passion….
    Maybe buying the first one is like opening Pandora’s box-one wants more 🙂

  3. Sue

    Firstly, Happy Christmas, LS! Wonderful post. I just never realised I have so many opinions about Kellys. Would particularly love a 28cm Retourner in polished dark green box calf leather. I think you just know when you have too many of anything – it starts to feel cluttered in your head when you try and visualise (?). So, I guess the actual figure is different for each person. Agree with you about no long straps or extra bits twisted or dangling from a bag, and also not over-filling. I saw in something Naomi posted that her Picnic Kelly has its very own overcoat, which IMO is the perfect solution to bad weather fears. As I cycle everywhere, and put my bag in the wicker bike basket, I often take a cloth to protect the leather from rain or scratches. My bags are not anywhere near as glamorous,though. I hope you love whatever awaits you on Christmas Day…

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      Thank you Sue, I cycle (almost) everywhere too and have waterproofed my Kellys.One can definitely have too much of a good thing, trying to clarify the tipping point, I think once you have no time to look after them all properly, or store them even, it’s time to rethink the policy. The renovations were a major eye opener for me.

      1. Archana Paladugu

        If I were to start my collection from scratch, I would do it by function ( size) and for pleasure ( color ).

        I would need 3 sizes – small, medium and medium-large.
        Small size should be red – because the color dresses up outfits. Serves for evening wear.
        medium : should be brown. It should fit just enough and work for everyday errands/travel/etc.
        Medium-Large : should be black. Should look elegant for work and day time. Should fit enough.

        For the clothing colors I wear, these 3 colors will suffice.
        If it were a Kelly, I dont think I need to be in the market for another bag for a decade. They last. They are precious. They are classic.

        I call this my 3-Kelly rule. 🙂

  4. couldashouldawoulda9

    i always think i would do a post but you do them so well on bags. a fellow handbag nut and i were talking about our latest bags and i had a eureka moment where they really are like old baseball cards and collecting is so much fun. I am still itching for a rubis perhaps in retourner but one can’t get too picky bc they aren’t offered up so often and something green – vert veronese won’t hurt. also I decided no epsom – my latest is an epsom bc you take what you can get but i decided the tactility just isn’t there for me so i might have to reconsider next time unless the color is the one I had wanted.

  5. happyface313

    🙂 I think one have as many bags as one can afford – time, space and money wise.
    And of course I’m a fan of color and if I could, I’d have from purple to pink and orange everything possible. Or maybe no. I had a black/pink Kelly. Now I have a vintage dark brown one and I love it. As it came without a strap (in those days apparently they didn’t have one yet) and I couldn’t get one form Hermès, I got myself a strap from LV that matches in color. So comfortable, especially when traveling.
    Congratulations on your new bag. I’m very curious to see it 😀


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