Why We Should All Start Carrying Baskets Instead of Purses

My style tip for summer: Ditch the handbag for a wicker holdall.

Though the Hermès Birkin is the crown jewel of purses, it seems few remember that the bag Jane Birkin usually carried was far more humble. Birkin actually spent much of the sixties and seventies with a wicker basket slung over her arm (and Serge Gainsbourg on the other). The basket-as-bag defined Birkin’s insouciant style — never try-hard, always chic —and I think of it as one of the best accessories in sartorial history.

But in the muddle of the past few decades, the basket has played second fiddle to the now-iconic Birkin bag — and it’s a shame. The wicker bag is unassuming, a perfect accompaniment to breezy summer looks. (Or you can take a cue from Birkin, who carried hers in all seasons, pairing it with floor-skimming dresses or a fur coat and flared jeans). Pinnacle of luxury it’s not, but what it does telegraph is certainly more important: an easy sense of style, one that doesn’t pin itself to labels and price tags.

It’s rather difficult to track one down; your best bet is to look on Etsy, or in fair-trade shops like Ten Thousand Villages. (I’ve found nine options for you; buy them below!) Once you’ve settled on one, don’t be afraid to pair it with outfits both high and low. It adds a bohemian flair to casual looks, but also takes fancier frocks down to earth.

Dare I say the basket is the new status bag?

[1] Rare vintage Chanel basket crossbody bag, $4,680 at Portero.

[2] Rosa Mosa ball basket bag, $244 at Urban Outfitters (online only).

[3] Vintage wicker basket purse, $40 at Etsy.

[4]  Vintage 1970s wicker basket purse, $45 at Etsy.

[5] Vintage straw/raffia tote, $22 at Etsy.

[6] Vintage straw cylinder market bag, $29 at Etsy.

[7] Vintage wicker picnic basket/sewing basket, $45 at Etsy.

[8] Handmade palm leaf tote, $39 at Ten Thousand Villages.

[9] Hermès Farming picnic bag, $7,800 at Hermès (in-store).