The doctor (bag) is still in
The doctor bag is quite possibly one of the most popular styles in bag history.
The bag originally made for doctors to carry medical equipment for making house calls had rounded sides, a flat bottom, and a single top handle with a frame and clasp enclosure.
Its gaping frame was designed in a manner which made it easy for the doctor to easily see and access his medical tools. Years on, the doctor bag was redesigned with zipper enclosures and with two handles for easier carrying. And while doctors hardly pay house calls these days, the bag continues to be in use.
It was perhaps in the early 1930s, when Louis Vuitton designed a ladies’ bag (perhaps inspired by the doctor bag) called the Speedy, that the particular style gained mainstream popularity. Brands like Gucci, Goyard, Bottega Veneta and American brand Coach have their own versions of the doctor bag, which remain part of their permanent collection.
Women have preferred the doctor bag over others because it is relatively easier to carry, is more versatile, and is considered a classic and ageless style.
Here are some of my picks for the modern-day doctor bag:
Fendi Chameleon: Last December, I bit the bullet and made the decision to purchase a Fendi Chameleon bag. I was glad I did. The bag is made of buttery soft leather but does not scratch easily. It is not too heavy and comes with a detachable shoulder strap for hands-free carrying.
This bag has two interior open compartments divided by a third zipped compartment in between. I highly recommend this bag for daily use as it is very easy and manageable, and has so far survived the daily rough and tumble when I carry it, which is quite often.
Louis Vuitton Monogram Bouclettes Speedy: The Speedy has come a long way since its inception, but for this season, Marc Jacobs has created the bouclettes Speedy in ladylike pastel colors of rose, mint and pearl.
Made from vernis or patent leather with a matte monogram imprint pattern, this bag is out to make the wearer look more feminine without compromising the size and contents of her bag.
Chloe Madeleine Leather Duffel: An all-leather bag like this one in camel is a must for one’s collection. The bag doesn’t have many details that will make it look dated in a few years. It has clean lines, and is functional because of its exterior zippered pocket, which would come in handy for car keys. The rolled handles also make for easier carrying, should the bag become heavy.
Diane Von Furstenberg Sporty Drew Duffel: I find this bag extremely versatile. For those who find it unacceptable to carry a python skin bag, this is perfect, because it is actually made of leather and stamped with python-like scales.
The colors are very versatile, too. If you want to color block and be on-trend, keep the bag strap on for that pop of color. But if you are off to an important, formal meeting, keep the strap in the bag and you’re ready to go.
The Row Leather and Suede Doctor Bag: From Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s growing popular label comes this leather and suede bag, perhaps the only one among all those featured here that stays true to its original style. The bag has a hidden frame with a clasp which gapes open so you can see all the contents and have access to them without problems.
It looks very clean on the outside, with tastefully positioned but minimal gold hardware. The bag is quite expensive for something so “minimal,” but it’s a style that would not have been out of place back in the ’50s, or would not be even 10 years from now.
Ingrid Chua-Go is the publisher of www.thebaghagdiaries.com and is on twitter.com/thebaghag.
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