Carry-on kits help weary travellers look and feel fresh

THE NIGHTMARISH possibility of lost luggage means carry-on tote bags filled to the brim with every imaginable item from eye balm to pyjamas. However, current limits on gels and liquids test even the most fastidious packer when it comes to maintaining your skin care while in the desert-like atmosphere of an airplane. Fear not. Cosmetics makers are squeezing this market opportunity into must-have carry-on kits for men and women, all below the 100 ml/100 g (3.4 oz) limit. Continue reading Carry-on kits help weary travellers look and feel fresh

Carry it off: beautiful luggage says as much about a person’s style as their clothes do

The most beautiful piece of luggage I have ever owned remains my least favourite. The navy-blue school trunk with its shiny golden clasps and my name painted on the top in white letters stayed in the attic out of sight during the holidays. But the time inevitably came when it was hauled down, the open lid releasing the unmistakeable tear-prompting smell of a new term. Continue reading Carry it off: beautiful luggage says as much about a person’s style as their clothes do

Plastic tax: paying for a shopping bag

In the annals of environmental calamities, it doesn’t quite have the same ring as a Hummer. According to environmentalists, though, the humble and handy plastic bag wreaks havoc: plastic bags are made from oil, and they choke both landfills and wildlife. Now, thanks to the efforts of Jacques Lalonde, a Montreal translator and self-described “ecological volunteer,” Continue reading Plastic tax: paying for a shopping bag

Handbags: Pocket History

Unlike clothes or shoes or jewelry, handbags add nothing to a woman’s appeal; no man was ever won by a beautiful Gucci slung over the back of a restaurant chair. And notwithstanding the ingenuity of designers in creating fancy clasps and adjustable straps and cunning inside pockets for cell phones, the function of a handbag could be filled almost as well by a shopping bag–with the difference that shopping bags don’t tend to accumulate loose aspirin tablets, crumpled tissues and leaking pens.


The history of the handbag parallels that of the women‘s movement, says Winifred Gallagher, author of a small, engaging appreciation called “It’s in the Bag.” Purses were invented in the Victorian era, when women began to travel on their own, and widely adopted in the 1920s for stashing the new mass-produced cosmetics (and cigarettes). In the 1980s they took on a new function as auxiliary briefcases, and grew in importance as fashion accessories and luxury objects and status symbols; Gallagher notes that runway models now commonly carry a couture purse, which was rare a couple of decades ago. These qualities come together in the “It” bag for all time, the Hermes Birkin. (The “It” bag of the moment, according to Gallagher, is the Yves St. Laurent Muse.) Yours for $6,000 or more, depending on materials. Or, not quite: there’s a waiting list, and it can be as long as two years.