More dash than cash: Bag lady

OH mid-December, time of Christmas shopping panic when, inevitably, you feel bad about “only” giving your mum that carefully-sourced vintage cape with original embellishments still intact and decide you need to add some novelty socks and a cellophane “gift box” of soaps you know, in your heart of hearts, will remain on the bathroom windowsill until March 2015, at which point it will be regifted to a distant cousin who was unexpectedly in the area on their birthday.
I’m not, as it happens, going to give you tips on how to avoid last-minute shopping disasters right now (well, maybe one: do try not to get drunk if you can help it). Instead I’m going to address a more cumbersome problem – the shopping bag.
Don’t get me wrong, there can be nothing more fabulous than tripping down a frost city centre street, arms bedecked with rope and paper beauties from Harvey Nicks, Selfridges and Boodles… but let’s face it, most of us are not a Delevigne and our bags are more likely to be plastic horrors from Primark and the Gadget Shop (does the Gadget Shop still exist? Do I no longer register its presence because I’m officially Grown Up?).
In this situation the only answer is to buy a little early Christmas gift just for yourself – a beautiful leather shopper. Not only can you stash all your purchases in its roomy depths, it is the perfect repository for your office shoes and jacket when you slip into something more sparkly for a “spontaneous” after work drink. A shopper allows you to be prepared. It has a Mary Poppins-type magic to it, that lasts far beyond the Christmas season.

The one that really caught my eye was this beauty from Rochas at net-a-porter (left). It’s £790, which would pay my mortgage for two months, however, and despite its buttery leather roominess, I think it would be difficult to entertain pals while living in a bag. A Rochas bag lady is, nevertheless, a bag lady. Far more affordable is this very similar number from humble M&S (right). At £85 you’re paying enough to know you’re not going to have to handle the horror of pleather, but you won’t be feeling guilty about giving your mum a t-shirt from the market while she covetously eyes your new shoulder candy.