I have long been an advocate of the cross-body bag. My fondness for the design stems from years of taking public transportation to work back in my student days when I lived in the Chicago area. The immediate benefit of a cross-body design is that it allows the bag to be carried hands-free. But the confidence a cross-body design conveys, in my view, goes beyond that convenience.
Having the long strap of a purse arranged cross-wise over my outerwear, the top of the bag in view and the bag close to my body, gives me confidence that no one can reach into the bag and steal its contents. With few exceptions, my cross-body bag design of choice has a top zipper to provide an extra sense of security. It takes more effort to unzip a zipper than to turn a clasp on a flap-style bag. The cross-body bad is perfect for travel.
Reading the March 17, 2019 issue of Parade magazine, a supplement to many newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, I read a blurb that gave me a new perspective on defensive purse carrying, this in a small piece headed “Meghan vs. Royal Fashion Police.”
Noting that the fashion choices of the former actress who became Prince Harry’s wife “are a refreshing break from the style dictated by royal protocol,” the article references, among other choices, her messy bun, her refusal to wear pantyhose, and her cross-body bags.
Illustration: Breaking with royal protocol with a cross-body bag from Australian designer Oroton at an event in 2018.
A do recall noting that Princess Diana routinely carried a clutch-style purse that matched her ensemble. I attributed this fashion choice to the refined elegance of the design and the likelihood that a royal likely needs to carry not much more than a handkerchief.
There’s more to the choice of a clutch than that, according to Parade: “Royals often carry clutches as a way to avoid shaking hands with members of the public or to use to cover cleavage as they climb out of a car.”
While I don’t anticipate most of us need be concerned about the need to shake hands with too many people, positioning a clutch to prevent an undesired peak of cleavage might be a skill worth mastering.