I’ve been toting around a Forever 21 crossbody bag that I got for £18 in Glasgow for over two years now. (Before that I had a £10 Primark bag that predictably lasted about 5 months.) I’ve been looking to upgrade my bag for the better part of a millennium, but nothing was meeting my specifications. I wanted a crossbody that could fit a decent amount without being too big, I wanted it to be black, I wanted it to be simple (i.e. sans fringe or bling), and I absolutely needed silver hardware. Gold metals do not enter my home, and I see so many otherwise beautiful black bags that are ruined by gold hardware. This is really a matter of personal preference, but it’s one of those things that just is a dealbreaker for me.
Discovering Montreal-based company Matt and Nat was a revelation for me. Their pieces are simple, attractive, and functional; they have silver hardware; and they’re vegan. I’m a meat-eater, but I draw the line at wearing dead animals on my body. That just seems needless. And of course I loved that they’re a Canadian company – they even have a bag named after my old Montreal neighbourhood! Matt and Nat pieces are also quite reasonably-priced for the quality and their commitment to sustainability.
After browsing their website I finally decided on the Elle bag, which met all of my specifications and basically looked like an upgraded version of my shitty Forever 21 bag. I held off ordering for a very long time, but finally the old Forever 21 bag disintegrated completely and so I bit the bullet.
Matt and Nat Elle compared to my Forever 21 bag:
You could say I know what I like!
The Matt and Nat Elle bag has one outer slot and three inner pockets, one of which zips. The back pocket and middle, zipped pocket both have smaller pockets on the side perfect for holding little things that tend to migrate to the bottom of the bag if not adequately contained. There’s a magnetic flap which covers the three main pockets, which I think is very cool.
I’ve had this bag for about two months now and I’ve found it great: it’s small enough that I don’t feel weighed down but large enough that I can reasonably bring everything I need with me; it’s very sturdy and well-made; the way it’s organized makes sense to me; I think it’s a sharp-looking bag. With bags I favour simplicity 100% of the time, and this is a simple, versatile piece that I can wear with anything.
When you see the random junk I’ve been hauling around in here, you’ll see why I limit myself to a smaller bag.
Earbuds – I have these tucked into my bag at all times because the worst thing ever is to leave your house for a long commute without earbuds. These are just the default Apple ones, which fit my ears well. (I think I have small ear holes, because a lot of earbuds really hurt!)
Bic pens – These are the cheapest, most common ballpoint pens and I adore them. Real stationery nerds probably think I’m uncultured swine, but they write so smoothly! I buy them in bulk and keep multiples in all my bags. It is never a good idea to be without pens!
Mini notebook – I mainly make notes on the Evernote app on my phone, but I’ve been out and about and wished I had a notebook handy plenty of times so I just keep one with me. I don’t use it that often, but it’s teeny tiny so I figure why not. My friend Ashley did the hand-lettering on this years ago!
TTC tickets: Funny story! After I graduated high school, I kept buying student tickets for public transit because I figured nobody would know the difference. In the past five years, that theory has proven true 100% of the time. I actually switched to paying adult fare in the past year, figuring that I was pushing my luck, but out of habit I went to my corner store and asked for ten student tickets, so I’m working my way through this stack of them.
Wedding keepsake: When my friends got married, all the guests got these little paper hearts infused with seeds. I tucked mine into my bag for safekeeping, where it has remained for the past two weeks.
Movie tickets: I’ve known for over a year that I would be seeing Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk when it hit theatres, since Harry Styles is in it and obviously I support anything he does. My brother and I saw it on Saturday, and then we went and saw it again with my parents on Wednesday. Before the positive reviews started coming out, I didn’t necessarily have high hopes for it, but it was great: so expansive, intense without being manipulative, and singular in its lack of focus on character backstory. Beautiful cinematography, music, and sound-mixing too!
Phone: I always put my phone in the front flap for ease of access. It’s a white and silver iPhone 6S with an unnecessarily expensive case from Sonix. (My entire iPhone-owning career I have only ever bought cheap $10 cases from mall kiosks, but I saw this case from ACROSS THE TELUS STORE and knew I had to have it. Roses are my birth flower and I have two rose tattoos!)
Programme and receipt from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: I went to the MMFA with my friends Katie and Caitlin when I was in Montreal earlier in the month and I have not cleared my bag out since then.
YSL Lipstick: Lest you think I have managed to only hoard one lipstick in my bag, this is the only lipstick in this pocket.
House key: Self-explanatory. No idea when or where I got the keychain.
Disposable camera: Every summer I like to buy a cheap disposable camera. It’s a lot more fun than the instant gratification of iPhone pictures. I only have one picture left on this roll and I am hemming and hawing over what is special enough to photograph before I get the film developed. The last camera I got developed was disastrous: only seven of the photos turned out. I’m hoping this one fares better, because I took a lot of pictures at my friends’ wedding.
Wedding officiating script: I do not need this anymore!!! I also didn’t even use this copy on the actual day of the wedding, so it was a waste of printer ink.
Thank you card: My friends wrote me a card and bought me a bottle of rosé as a thank you for officiating their wedding, which was super sweet because I was absolutely buzzing to do it just for the extreme and utter honour of it all. The rosé will make a lovely sangria!
Grocery store receipt: I bought a bottle of water for $0.89. Exciting stuff.
Sunglasses: I knew I became a real adult when I bought prescription sunglasses! These are the Sunset style from EyeBuyDirect. I got them during a BOGO with a pair of clear frames. The case came with them.
Lipstick: Told you! Here I have two Revlon Balm Stains, in Lovesick and Romantic, and a Buxom lip pencil in Hush Hush. (This one lives in my bag pretty consistently since it’s my favourite everyday lip colour at the moment.)
Wallet – This is the Matt and Nat Vera wallet, which I got for 40% off at Marshall’s. (I bought this pre-bag – it was my first Matt and Nat piece, and what convinced me to bite the bullet on the bag.) It’s simple, but I like the front flap detailing. It has enough slots for my cards (a perpetual struggle for me in the era of loyalty cards) and a zippered-off compartment for change. Those are my wallet must-haves, so this works very well for me.
Card holder – I put my most-used cards in this so I don’t have to cart my whole wallet around at all times, and just for general ease of access. This was $30, which I feel is slightly steep for something so tiny, but card holders seem to be pricey in general. Most of the ones I’ve seen online are real leather, too, which is a no-go for me, so I decided to just go full throttle with the Matt and Nat theme and throw Max into my cart when I ordered my Elle bag. I like that this one has a middle pocket that you can stick bills into. I don’t know how I ever got by without a card holder – it’s so convenient to have all my must-have cards in one tiny wallet that I can easily slip into my back pocket when I don’t want to carry around my whole bag. For the record, I have my driver’s license, debit card, credit card, and Optimum card in it.
MMFA ticket: There really is no rhyme or reason to where things end up in here: why did I not tuck this ticket away with the MMFA programme and receipt? Who knows! Anyway, if you happen to be in Montreal soon, the Revolution show is very cool. Most of the MMFA is free, and the exhibitions cost $15. This ticket also got us into the Jean Paul Gaultier wedding dress exhibition, which was very neat as well.
Blotting papers: These are from Joe Fresh and they work as well as any other blotting papers. I mainly use them on my nose, which is the only part of my face that gets oily.
Compact mirror – I have many of these Sephora mirrors that come with gift cards, as you probably do too. At this point I just have one in every bag I own so that I never have to switch them over. Maybe one day I could get a cool/cute/pretty compact, but when I have like 900 of these lying around what’s the point?
So, today we have learned that I hoard receipts. Based on all the junk I carry around in my bag for indeterminate amounts of time, you can probably see why I deliberately go with small bags. Can you imagine the strain on my shoulder if I had a big bag? NO THANK YOU!
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