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?
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.
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?
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.
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!
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