Every single day, I wonder if hamsters are sad that they don’t need to carry summer purses. Hamsters store treats in their cheeks. It’s a visual delight for us; for them, it’s highly convenient; for the world, it’s a pretty refreshing reminder that everyone saves a bite of Cheetos for later behind their back molars, okay. But because hamsters don’t use cellphones or keys or wallets, with their smile-sides as face pockets-for-snacks, they have no need to carry around a handbag. It’d be superfluous. And that’s not really a hamster’s thing!

Impractical humans, however, always have stuff. I’ll speak for myself as the ultimate schlepper: Even when I’m at my most pared-down, I still have a few things I need to carry with me from A to B. Also, everyone knows a handbag isn’t just about utility — it’s an accessory! It’s an aesthetic choice — a mood, even. A happy handbag can make your entire day, not just your outfit.

Two summers or so ago, when the straw basket was just beginning to become a “thing” again, I felt a rush of excitement about handbags in a way I hadn’t since forever. That 2010-era “It Bag” push had really tired me out: They were all SO expensive (the coolest ones were up there with a Manhattan month’s rent, easily), they were so tied to status, and they were ubiquitous. But the straw bag changed things. They came/come in an affordable price range and a never-ending slew of styles, they’re indestructible but also pretty, and though they too started to appear on the arm of everyone, they felt like the kind of thing that I’d never tire of. Even now, I have a feeling that straw baskets will be a forever fixture in my closet.

But, I could use a few new alternatives, something to switch it up with given that I can’t store snacks in my cheeks.

I rounded up a few options to scratch my itch. I wanted bags with just a hint of novelty, a bit of whimsy, the ability to withstand quite a lot of sand and the capacity to hold a snack as well as my wallet, keys, sunglasses and phone. I wanted a few that felt like sweet treats to make the day better, and a few that felt like worthy, quality, I-know-I’ll-treasure-this-even-when-I-don’t-use-it investments. Most importantly, these bags had to shout SUMMER.

As for my hamster friends, I thought about it after writing this, and I suppose I don’t feel so bad. They get to use my handbags as hammocks if they so choose.

Photographed by Edith Young. Modeled by Sunnaya Nash. Maryam Nassir Zadeh dress, Carel shoes and Becca Jewellery worn throughout.

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