Outerwear challenge plus: luggage edition

When Katerina declared her outerwear challenge, I knew I was in. Having spent last winter navigating sartorial doldrums in a +J down jacket, this year I’d like to get my cosy coats on again. To make it happen, first I have to crack the luggage code.

The reason for this is that my usual formulaic solutions are breaking down. The entire capsule needs a rethink, particularly for travel purposes.

The idea is to get back to using a single small bag on the regular, otherwise I lose things. Most of the time, what I really need is not so much a bag as an extra pocket, for keys, wallet, phone and face masks. Lightweight, compact, big enough for not much else, paired with a lightweight tote for carrying sundries. If I can keep the essentials in one place, I can leave the house in a timely fashion.

To solve the problem, here comes a no name harness bag bought from the Fez tannery, chosen in lieu of a bum bag, or fanny pack as I believe you call it across the pond. Those things look terrible on me, (insert joke here about Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple breasted etc etc.) so I opted to try its less bulky cousin, reasoning that where the bum bag led, the harness would surely follow as the chest bag du jour. I was right about that. A fringe trend at the moment, thanks to Virgil Abloh they threaten to come roaring back at any time, in which case I should get my wear in right now. As an unexpected benefit, surprisingly useful for taming any blazer or fitted jacket which no longer fastens.

So far, so good. I want to make it the default carry for the season and see how far the formula can go. To this end, I will be benching some of my other bags for the time being, including those favorites which are proving impractical right now, on account of everything ending up in the wrong place.

But there is a further handicap. The challenge is to put it to work with two oversized lightweight totes, neither of which have seen enough action. Both can be partnered with the harness in interesting ways, and I want to see how they perform in the context of the outerwear capsule.

  • Anello bag, purchased by Mr Edge in Japan. Popular in the Far East, apparently, and by popular, I do not mean the same thing as fashionable. Ubiquitous would be a better word for it. Luckily for me, nobody else round here is carrying one. Handsome, well made, hard to wear. Needs time in circulation in the interests of marital harmony.

  • Promotional piece by my friend at ByBrown. Not exactly a bag. More like half a vest that functions as a giant pouch. Looks incredibly cool, unsuitable for load bearing. Useful for carrying ultralight puffer vests, empty shopping bags, small items from the chemists. Bonus layer of weatherproofing. If I can figure it out, it might just come into its own. At the very least, I shall wear it today to collect my Uniqlo order, and report back.
  • The fallback: Quilted tote by JW Anderson, another from the Qlo. Showing wear, but good enough for groceries. The default for when I can’t make either of the other two work.
Wish me luck!

Update: this unlikely device exceeded expectations. Added a couple of surreptitious shots from today’s outing. Pleasantly shocked and amazed.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    It looks and sounds like you have it all figured out visually, Rio! And over these layers, the sling bag and tote look great!

    As an urban walker who in on foot most of the time too, I carry a lot of stuff in tote bags. My faves are from the Museum Shop and I have two Van Goghs :)

    Personally, I would be uncomfortable carrying my shopping totes like this. I could do so up to a certain weight, and then I'd have to shift to shoulder carrying, and one on each side. But if you can manage, this looks fab! That said, shoulder carrying will look good too. The pop of cobalt with your black and white outfits is divine :)

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Angie, thanks! There’s always a moment when trying something new that I’m wondering, will this actually work? Once I’ve tested it a bit, I know I can form a habit around it. 

    Spot in about not carrying too much load. One of the reasons this counter-intuitive object seems to work in practice is that in spite of the size, it’s not particularly tempting to load it up with heavy items. Those will go in a dedicated shopper on the bicycle rack. I should know better than to doubt though. ByBrown is good at testing her products. 

    And spot on about museum shop merchandise. Tees, totes and now face masks… Exit through the gift shop!

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 2 years ago

    I double up a large + small bag all the time, although the small is more likely a crossbody than my belt bag. Most of the WIWs with the belt bag were early this year, maybe March. I think I had the double bags frequently in my August WIWs.

  • slim cat replied 2 years ago

    Looks cool on you - truly unique look with practical function ;) .

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    Ah yes, Rio. Bike rack shoppers. PERFECT Dutch solution! That takes the pressure off traipsing it all on the body. I am sans bike and with doggies in tow........I have to use my shoulders! And a torn one too :(

  • Janet replied 2 years ago

    I like the layered bags here and the blue is really good (totally predictable that I would love that blue, right?). It can be really challenging to figure out bags. I have some mild shoulder issues so I have to watch balance and weight. I’m liking smaller crossbodies, sling bags, and backpack styles these days.

    I have a half dozen of those reusable shopping totes that fold up into little pouches. On days when I’ll need one, I try to choose one that sort of goes with my outfit, LOL.

  • Irina replied 2 years ago

    Oh, such a cool look! Love it! I really like sling bags but yet to try one.
    For now I mostly wear crossbody bags.

  • rachylou replied 2 years ago

    I am intrigued by the half-vest tote. Just to throw another option into the fray… I’ve been seeing these ‘cropped tank top’ bags that I kinda want. I’m all about small and hands free. I was using waist bags, but my best one is wearing out. It lay flat - not like the fanny pack bustle…

  • Jonesy replied 2 years ago

    This is a very good-looking harness bag! Quite chic and if it's practical as well, perfection!

  • Jaime replied 2 years ago

    What! The vest carries your (light) groceries! Ok, I am officially awed. I think you need a baguette sticking out of it somehow.
    The black harness is perfect on you, truly. I have the Uniqlo/JW Anderson bag in plaid :) . Waterproof and zippable = perfect for the beach.

  • Jenni NZ replied 2 years ago

    Well I love the blue especially! Such a great colour contrast with your black.

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Slim cat, Irina, Jonesy, thanks! It’s a nice thing. I’m glad it’s coming into its own at last.

    Stag, cute bags. I can see why the second one appealed to you. 

    Angie, yup, it’s amazing what you can carry on a bike. Which is just as well, because it’s all but impossible to park a car around here. And the doggies do love to ride in the baskets.

    Janet, I tried with those foldable totes, but I kept losing them! And you should see me rummaging around for That face mask to match the outfit! You’re right, it’s complicated. Balance can make all the difference.

    Rachylou, I am all for hands free solutions! I like that this arrangement  can be worn under my coat. Now is a good time to find chest bags. We should do a survey on the various belts and harnesses available.

    Shevia, hehe. I am so going to accessorize with a baguette. I was wondering how it would look stuffed full of toilet rolls. How does your JWA bag have a zipper? Mine has none. I want a zipper. 

    Jenni, thanks! It looks a bit like cobalt on the screen, but in fact it’s closer to turquoise. I like the bright accent with the black too. I have loads of black at the moment. It’s good to lighten it up.

  • replied 2 years ago

    The blue piece - not sure what to call it  - is quite incredible and unique.   I do think it will work best stuffed with panic-purchased toilet rolls .  Or the baguette idea is good too.  All kidding aside, it has merit and is interesting !  Toting around things has become an issue for me since the pandemic hit.  All I want are pockets to put things in that don't look stuffed full or hanging down with the weight of my keys etc. Purses seem so superfluous or even prissy much of the time now  .

  • Katerina replied 2 years ago

    Wow, I love the vest bag! And what a creative way you have put it in action in this outfit! I remember the leather coat - one of my favorite. 

  • replied 2 years ago

    Looks super useful to me!

  • Sally replied 2 years ago

    I never had the idea of using different bags. It makes sense to distribute the weight across the body though.  I love cross body bags and never carry handbags.  Yours are better though because you can fit more in.  If I was walking to work or public transporting, I would definitely go for that.  The cobalt blue is gorgeous and looks like it is part of your outfit contrasting with the black.  I used to bike to work (and may start doing it again when I don't have to drop my son at school).  I use panniers on the back of my bike plus a backpack but you could ride with your bags.  

  • Mary Beth (formerly LBD) replied 2 years ago

    First of all, shout out for your Hitchhiker reference.   You are my tribe.

    It never occurred to me to layer bags in any sort of fashionable way!   I don't think this is for me, though, because I try to be careful with not having too much weight suspended from my shoulders/neck.  But I'm excited to see WIWs for the trend.

    I'm also in favor of anything that would anchor down my can't-fasten-them-right-now toppers.   LOL.

    These days, I wear a small crossbody and I've been gradually adding clothing with reasonably-sized pockets to my wardrobe (when I can find 'em).

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Lisa P, I hear you about the lady bags. Still fashionable here, but I’m not quite feeling it at the moment. It might only be a practical concern, while I get used to the new normal.

    suntiger, thanks! Katerina, I’m really enjoying this coat this season. I was afraid it would feel the same as the lady bags right now, but I love it over the gigantic pants and trainers. 

    Sally, load distribution is a major consideration. To be honest I’m a bit nervous about that shoulder strap on such a huge bag…

    MB: two truisms. Douglas Adams is a hero of English literature. And womenswear needs more pockets. 

    Interesting point about layering bags. I like to feel the bag coordinates with the outfit, and I often adjust straps to get the fit right. But come to think of it, this arrangement is new to me too. I had the idea a while ago, but the complexity has kept me from using it. Now I see how it can work, I’m tempted to give it a go more often. 

  • UmmLila (Lisa) replied 2 years ago

    I want to know where you keep your towel.

    They are quite essential for galactic outings.

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    UmmLila: isn’t it obvious? In my giant pocket, of course!

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