Windy Aulia makes a case for bags with chain straps

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

"The Furla 1927 is a mini cross-body bag crafted in smooth, soft leather that features a chain-and-leather strap. This model, which can also be carried as a shoulder bag, is characterised by the iconic metal turn-lock closure with the Furla logo on the front."

Legend has it that February 1955 marked the start of fashion’s fascination with handbags and the woman responsible for that was none other than Coco Chanel. Her intention was to free up a woman’s hands by adding a strap to a purse so it could be slung over the shoulder. To that end, she designed a geometric bag with a flap and adorned it with a chain strap, inspired by the tiny chains used to weigh down the hems of her famous boucle jackets so that they would hang perfectly.

Little did she know then how profound an impact that bag would have on fashion; Chanel’s iconic 2.55 is still deemed one of the most successful bag designs to date. Today, a boxy bag with a chain strap is a staple in fashion, with brands offering two or more of their own interpretations each season. It is no longer reserved for a couture-wearing lady; instead, it has become a bag for the everyday.

So how should you wear it? First, know that this is not a bag made for the kind of woman who feels the need to carry her entire life in a bag. Now that that’s out of the way, avoid pairing it with a classic skirt suit at all costs— unless you prefer to be called “Madame” instead of “Mademoiselle”. Also, match the bag to the vibe that you want to project with your ensemble.

For day, carry it short and on the shoulder. Elevate a denim-shorts-and-tee look with a punchy, brightly coloured bag like this mini cross-body bag, the Furla 1927. The beauty of the chain strap is in its versatility: You can double-loop it or tie it into a knot and hide it beneath the flap to wear the bag shorter, which makes your outfit look feminine, even demure—especially if you pair it with a fitted cashmere top and a leather pencil skirt, a look we’ve been seeing on the spring/summer runways.

An evening soiree calls for the bag to be carried like a clutch. The transformation is easy enough: Simply tuck the chain inside the bag or fashion the strap into a tiny top handle and conceal the knot beneath the flap. You can opt for one in a mini size that can easily pass as a minaudière. Pair it with your gown and you’re ready to party.

At the weekends, wear the bag long and cross-body style over a Breton top and jeans or a breezy summer dress. It’s for you to go hands-free so you can let your hair down and play. No more dancing around bags. Mojito, anyone? ■