ShareThis Page

Straw bags are for more than the beach

| Thursday, June 6, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Paper straw rope-handle tote ($139), available at Talbots stores and
Wicker shoulder clutch ($129), available at Talbots stores and
Striped straw tote ($79), available at Talbots stores and
Tory Burch 'Megan' straw tote ($295), available at Nordstrom in Ross Park Mall and
Kayu 'Jen' straw clutch ($148), available at Nordstrom in Ross Park Mall and
Kate Spade New York 'chelsea market-small coal' straw tote ($348), available at Nordstrom in Ross Park Mall and
Tory Burch chunky straw tote ($235), available at
Tory Burch chunky straw clutch ($195), available at
Bop Basics city straw tote ($120), available at
Lands' End refined straw tote ($150), available at
Lauren Ralph Lauren tote bag ($128), available at Macy's stores and
Brighton 'Sierra' straw hobo bag ($210), available at
Foley & Corinna straw bag ($250), available at
Cole Haan 'Bedford' tote ($198), available at
Brighton Collectibles 'Felix' straw bag ($210), available at Ross Park Mall, other locations across the country, and
Brighton Collectibles straw clutch ($150), available at Ross Park Mall, other locations across the country, and
Brighton Collectibles 'Rowan' straw zip tote ($180/each), available at Ross Park Mall, other locations across the country, and
Brighton Collectibles 'Shauna' straw tote ($165), available at Ross Park Mall, other locations across the country, and

The straw bag has ventured beyond the beach.

What used to be thought of as a vacation-only purse has transformed into an everyday staple, perfect for this time of year.

“Straw bags give us the feeling of summer,” says Meredith Paley, vice president of public relations for Talbots. “They are lighter, too, which women love, especially after carrying a heavy bag in winter.”

Summer after summer, Talbots offers a straw bag, Paley says. This year's collection has lots of colors and shapes, from a striped tote to a clutch with a neon pink flap.

Straw handbags are popular in the summer because they are a seasonal fabric that pairs well with straw hats, espadrilles and all summer attire, says Kathi Hursh, Macy's by-appointment manager at South Hills Village.

“It's a centuries-old technology that never fails to wear well and has been made famous with the help of designers,” Hursh says. “A straw handbag carries history within its weaves.”

The trend in straw bags includes vintage-inspired pieces with a structured shape and wooden handle.

A straw tote bag is still a perfect choice for the beach, Paley says. A woman can throw in everything from an extra pair of shoes, swim cover-up or sweater, for those too-cool air-conditioned restaurants.

Having a lightweight bag is a must-have for summer, says Jessica Poland, store manager of Brighton Collectibles in Ross Park Mall. She says their bags are made from corn husks and crocheted paper, which makes them easy to carry.

“They are all-natural and eco-friendly, and they are perfect for this time of year,” Poland says. “Bags like this wouldn't be good for the winter, because they could get damaged in bad weather.”

Each Brighton bag is hand-made by artisans who weave them around wooden blocks. In 2012, straw bags accounted for 24 percent of Brighton sales from February to May, Poland says.

“Women like to have a bag for every occasion,” Poland says. “And straw bags can be carried everywhere from work to weekend.” style expert Natasha Pace appreciates the texture of straw bags, which is reminiscent of palm trees and beaches. She says go for color in your selection. She points out a big move toward retro-inspired shapes as a refreshing and needed direction after so much high-end sophistication. You can take these bags to work, she says.

“Rules? What rules?” Pace says. “So many laidback casual looks and even formal evening looks have transcended into our regular office attire nowadays. Think sequin top and transparent heels. Bottom line, if your office allows it and you're loving it, I say go for it.”

Straw style is a great addition to a wardrobe of purses, says Regina Gardiner, senior accessories editor for People Style Watch.

“The straw bag is not just for the beach, because it comes in more than a tote style. There are cross-body bags and satchels and clutches,” Gardiner says. “And they come in fun colors, as well as the natural hues you are used to seeing.”

The ethnic-inspired trend is popular in straw bags, Gardiner says. They can be very colorful and a fun accessory to add to an outfit, she says. “You just associate straw and wicker with summer.”

The trend in summer handbags includes not only straw, but raffia and organic materials, says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom fashion director.

“For summer, these are such great materials because they are basic and natural,” Andrews says. “You will see a lot of global-inspired bags and fun, colorful patterns. These bags come in everything from soft pastels as well as deep hues, magentas and cobalt blues. Match the style of bag to the occasion. A clutch is perfect for the weekend, while a more structured purse works for work. Take the tote on vacation.”

These bags also are less expensive than leather, and some have interesting embroidery and detail as well, from great sculpted handles to leather trims and embellished designs, Andrews says.

“They remind us of summer and are the perfect transition bag from spring to summer,” he says.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.