Where Life Meets Style — My bff, the murse

Aaron Leth

I was flipping through the October issue of the Rake magazine, casually sipping my jumbo-sized latte, when I found a fashion spread on men’s bags. Christy DeSmith usually does the fashion reporting, and she brought up so many good points on this topic I had to share.

First, we all know what a “murse” is, right? Well, for those of you who don’t, it’s the combination word of man and purse some betch put on the trend a few years ago, simultaneous with the “metrosexual” trend (ugh) and similar to the celebrity couple-naming process: Gyllenspoon, Bennifer, capische? Or you could do what that famine-baby-stealing woman Angelina Jolie does, and just keep it at Jolie-Pitt; but that means it would remain a very PC “man-purse.” Lame.

Although, if it seems like the ladies are taking a bitter backseat on this one, think again, because they frequently come up in the origin of the murse. As DeSmith said, ladies have often borrowed menswear trends with ease and have adapted them as mainstream styles that repeatedly show up season to season. So pray tell: Why have men not made the same leap?

It’s a fine line, but I think the bag is the one area in which we have. I can report that all the 2008 spring shows had heavy androgyny: Think capris, bright florals and cowl necks. And, of course, more androgynous bags to keep up with murse mania. But so many of you are afraid to carry a larger, nonconformity “bag for men” because of a fear they’re too feminine or TOO fashion-forward.

It’s a valid point, but fashion history buffs know that often men in previous centuries were looked at more scrupulously as style arbiters than were women. There’s no reason we, as manly men (haha!), can’t embrace a trend like the murse. For your consideration, here are some tips to help you along your way, and trust me, it’s not easy:

1. Study the shape and color and always see a bag in person. Never order online. I once bought a Marc Jacobs calfskin tote on Bluefly.com, and when it arrived, it was literally as tall as my legs! No joke, friends. Thank your lucky designers for 90-day return policies! I think the best men’s bag shapes and colors are neutral (gray, black, white, tan) totes or brief bags, a combo of a briefcase, bowling bag and a regular bag.

2. Don’t buy a women’s bag. If you want to be trend-right, don’t try to force it too much. Style happens most eloquently when it isn’t planned. One of my friends has a knack for finding women’s bags that are very masculine, but you’re not him, so don’t buy one. With a trend, it’s kind of like what Tim Gunn said on his show: If you’re going to dress like you just got out of bed, don’t get out of bed. Translation? Don’t buy a women’s bag, unless you’re asking for the awkward looks from suburban housewives, armed with fanny packs and juice boxes, trying to protect “the children.”

3. Save up and buy one high-end if you really want one. While I found my favorite bag at J.Crew, it was still $100. But the people who take this trend seriously are luxe designers, namely Prada and Gucci (the same names that are also some of the most successful in their craft!), and it will be something that lasts a lifetime. While people scoff at bags costing a grand or more, it’s slightly unfounded because the bag becomes an investment, as well as a status symbol. Multitasking! That-a-way!

That’s all. I hope all you homies find this useful. If you want to find your own murse, check J.Crew (duhÖ), Off Saks, Fossil at MOA or TJ Maxx in St. Louis Park. TJ Maxx? I know, but this one is MAJOR! It has the special “Maxx runway” outlet – the only TJ Maxx to have one in the cities – where one is able to find such heavy-hitting designers as Marc Jacobs, D&G and Alice + Olivia at staggeringly low prices! If you have a free day, make the style sojourn. But be prepared for some scary TJ Maxx shoppers, too. Remember: You’ll be in the suburbs at a discount store. Just sayin’Ö