Form over function: The Fashion Edition

I fell deeply in love with this purse on first glance to the point where I probably would have been willing to shell out the $178 (marked down from $400!) even when I wasn’t specifically in the market for a new bag, because it was so beautiful and seemed so incredibly functional. But once I opened it up, the love affair was over.

Perfect color-blocking (not so much that it'll look dated when the trend subsides in a year); perfect bright punch without veering into Neon Territory; perfect silvery gray and ivory that are cool and pale yet murky enough to hide dirt. Crossbody strap for maximum ergonomics, comfort, and security. Cool looking hardware. Not too prominent a brand logo. SO LOVELY!

For you see, this purse had no pockets whatsoever on the inside. And those two flimsy external pockets were too short to hold an iPhone (as well as being prohibitively exposed and annoying to open and close). So it’s essentially a purse that size exactly right for a full-sized iPad, but with no room to carry an iPhone, let alone a stylus, headset, wallet, keyring, or anything else you might want to carry with you along with your tablet and I guess the condoms that fit easily in the outer pockets. Hair ties. I don’t know. Not a f-cking wallet or phone or keys, that’s for sure. Anyway, my point is this: what percentage of women do you think own an iPad, but don’t own an iPhone, AND are willing to shell out for a purse that’s very clearly an iPad-intended form factor? (You can’t totally tell from my shot, but it basically looks like a case with a shoulder strap and some detailing.)

Furthermore, this bag was also less than an inch deep inside, and just exactly wide enough for the standard size iPad, naked. Which means that I couldn’t carry my iPad in the bulkier hardshell keyboard case that makes it extremely easy to type during meetings. (Does it surprise you to learn that that’s my case of choice? It is if I’m actually going to do anything with my iPad that warrants bringing it along with me in a purse and not a full-sized commuter bag.) Grrrrrrrr^n.

I may sound ridiculous to whine about this one bag, but it’s not just this bag. I find this problem coming up quite often in the women’s handbag design. There are rarely enough pockets to keep all of your crap in a useful location that makes it easily accessible and unlikely to ding up the other glorious brushed aluminum items in your bag. I even tried to have one custom made once, but the gal who made it underestimated the size of the iPhone (and so did I since I had it made about a month before the first gen came out). So it fits the crappy feature phone I had at the time, but anything as tall as an iPhone falls out. I would LOVE to re-line a bag (all bags) with a custom lining that is an entire wall pockets for different items, including all the basics I mentioned above, plus a business card holder and some makeup. I even tried to have such a thing commissioned twice, but it’s hard to find craftsperson who will work with leather these days, and I don’t think I’m willing to invest the time to become skilled enough to solve this problem myself.

In the same casual Nordstrom browsing this morning, I also opened up a flat wallet made by HOBO International, a strangely named company that purports to make handbags and other small leather articles “designed by women for women.” The wallet I examined boasted a smartphone pocket, and it was advertised as such with a little card that said “smartphone pocket” with an arrow, in a way that would grab your attention when you opened the wallet (which any shopper is CRAZY not to do!). I tried putting my iPhone 4S in there in its incredibly thin case*, but of course it didn’t fit in this slim flat wallet. I tried removing the case as well, but no dice there either. And keep in mind that the 4S is thicker but shorter than the more current 5 ” I don’t think a 5 would have fit height-wise, let alone one of those crazy Samsung phablets that make me get all size envious. (Edited to add, the reviews confirm my suspicions.)

You may not appreciate the look, but you've never opened and closed a more satisfyingly clicky, solid, metal lipstick case in your life.Suffice it to say, I’m not buying the purse, but now I’m also mad at Marc Jacobs for not thinking this stuff through. Carrying my technology in a way that’s useful and accessible and fashionable matters a lot to me… to the point where I would probably spend full price for something that really accommodated that goal, even though that $400 price tag is crazy sauce to me, because I’m so frustrated at NEVER having owned a purse that makes proper use of space and fully addresses all my tech needs (let alone my Where Do I Put This Pretty Real Metal Designer Lipstick Tube So It Doesn’t Get Scratched By My Keys And Whatnot needs. Apple’s not the only one with great industrial design, ya know.). Do I put another period there, Chicago? ANSWER THIS USE CASE. GOD. See? Marc made me all capsy and it’s only Monday.

*Yes, I have a case on it. I’m disappointed in me, too. But I’ve shattered or chipped so many glass fronts and backs of so many iPhones now, and I drop the thing so many times in a given week, that it’s simply a requirement even though it saddens me to cover up such beautiful design. Gorilla Glass my ass.