With weekends of beach time ahead of me, I needed a bag to show off at the shore. So I headed to Canyon Beachwear, where I found a tan “Starfish” tote by Jellyfish. This offset my bright-blue bikini perfectly. Made from straw, the bag was super-light, though the wooden starfish clasp was sturdy. And the tote lay flat, so it could easily be stashed in a suitcase. 1136 Third Ave., nr. 66th St.; 917-432-0732.
After a quick train ride south, I went to Escada. While shopping among ritzy Spanish women with deep tans, I noticed a cute white canvas bag. $690 is a slightly outrageous amount to pay for a soggy fashion-magazine carrier. But with its elegant floral pattern and brown leather trim, this bag could double as my new summer purse. Sadly, I knew it wouldn’t stay white for long. 715 Fifth Ave., nr. 56th St.; 212-755-2200.
Next I tried my luck at Calypso, where the best option was a bright-blue pouch I’d spotted at the beach the weekend before. Though I liked the coloring, the metallic sequins and beading were just too much. The silver trim and tassels were more Monaco than Montauk, my more realistic destination. 935 Madison Ave., at 74th St.; 212-535-4100.
My last stop for the day was Hayden-Harnett’s Greenpoint boutique. The most tropic-ready bag was this clear tote priced at $133. Made of plastic, it could endure a dip in the ocean—or a puddle of Diet Coke. And the orange and yellow sunburst pattern added a cheerful punch of color. But since I owned the same print in a halter top, it was overkill. 211 Franklin St., at Freeman St., Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 718-389-1750.
The next day, I headed to H&M. Though most of their satchels were more handbags than beach bags, I did find this army-green cotton one which would totally be at home on the sand. What struck me most, though, was the neon-pink trim. Sure, I was all about neon—for spring. But by now, it’s a little played out. 640 Fifth Ave., nr. 51st St.; 212-489-0390.
Determined to discover my dream tote, I wandered into Pucci’s narrow Fifth Avenue shop. Scanning the inventory, I saw a bag perched on the highest shelf. I couldn’t get enough of its plush cotton—it could double as a pillow for catnaps on the sand. And the swirling mix of plum, periwinkle, and sea foam made it look more like an abstract painting than a purse. It was just begging to be taken from the ocean to boardwalk cocktails. 701 Fifth Ave., nr. 54th St.; 212-230-1135.
Across the street, I sampled Henri Bendel’s new Chocolate Bar Café before hitting the accessories department. There were three beach bags to try out, but the best deal was the clear plastic one with blue cotton twill by Twelve. I really liked the handy front pocket—perfect for an iPhone. But I didn’t feel comfortable with everyone being able to see my trashy tabloid stash. 712 Fifth Ave., nr. 56th St.; 212-247-1100.
Home & Haven
After mistakenly taking the F train home, I wound up in Carroll Gardens. On the long walk back to my apartment, I decided to browse Home & Haven. For a home-décor store, the beach-tote stock was surprisingly robust. This satchel, crafted by an unknown African artist, was made of palm leaves with a brown leather trim. Priced at just $80, this would probably be the perfect birthday present for my rather traditional mother. 177 Smith St., nr. Wyckoff St., Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-875-1775.