During lockdown fashion became somewhat of a non-starter… it definitely wasn’t our priority! Instead, we embraced tracksuits and comfort as we allowed our favourite high heels and handbags to fall to the back of our wardrobes. After all, why carry a gorgeous clutch to the supermarket? That’s not quite the glam event we had in mind…

However, as restrictions have now finally eased and brunches, romantic dinners and shopping trips have once again filled our diaries, we’ve been met by an unexpected reality; after delving into the deep, dark corners of our wardrobes, we’ve discovered dusty, uncared for handbags which lack the colour and vibrancy that we love. As a result, handbag lovers have come to realise that for a handbag to survive the test of time, there are steps we need to take.

Despite what you may have heard, this necessary handbag care doesn’t simply mean brushing the dust off of your clutch and running out the door – although dusting is important! There’s actually a lot more to consider. Thankfully, we have an expert on hand to tell-all and protect our favourite handbags.

To help keep your favourites in flawless condition, allowing you to soak up their beauty in countless outfits to come, Nicole Street, Co-Founder of luxury handbag brand Duchy, is sharing her expertise. More specifically, she’s outlining the things you should be doing to care for your handbags on a regular basis; they might only be handbags but they really do need to be looked after if you want to avoid unwanted wear and tear. Perfection never comes easy!

If you’re a handbag worshiper hoping to protect the quality of your carefully curated collection, pay close attention to these tips and thank us later!

  1. Keep them out of direct sunlight.

‘One of the simplest pieces of advice I’d give is to always keep your bags out of direct sunlight. This exposure will cause colours to fade and dull, something we certainly want to avoid… meanwhile, if your handbag is made from real leather it’ll be particularly vulnerable to the effects of sunshine. Leather is a natural material which, if left in the sun, will fall victim to premature aging, drying and cracking. Visible changes can occur in as little as 4-6 months, whilst over time you’ll see your bag loose its vibrancy. Where possible, always keep your handbags in the shade.’

  1. Never hang your handbags.

‘If you have a hook on the back of your bedroom door, it’s likely that you hang your handbags within easy reach. This is convenient, stops them from endlessly filling your wardrobe and seems like a harmless choice… in reality however hanging your handbags spells disaster! This can easily distort leather whilst changing the shape of your handle. Instead, place your bags on a shelf; this will simultaneously make for an aesthetically pleasing piece of décor making it an ideal styling solution.’

  1. Don’t forget to clean them!

‘We rarely consider cleaning our handbags but they really do need it. Consider the material of your handbag and go from there; for example, suede bags shouldn’t be exposed to water or oil, a suede brush alone will do the trick. Meanwhile, if your handbag is made from leather, you’ll need to invest in specially designed cleaning items to refresh their sparkle.

In any instance, be sure to wipe down your bag regularly (unless it’s made from a material that doesn’t fare well with water, like suede or velvet), be sure to polish any metal embellishments and generally consider any maintenance and love that your bag might need.’

  1. Maintain the shape of your bag.

‘For your handbag to remain in tip-top condition you need to protect and maintain its shape. If your bags have been bundled in your wardrobe for months on end then you’ve probably noticed they look a little squashed; this is something we should all avoid and, fortunately, it’s a problem we can easily address. The answer? Stuff your bags when they’re not being used. From clothing to socks, scarves and other soft-material goods, by filling your bag to the brim you’ll help to sustain its unique shape, preventing soft materials from folding in or wilting. Nothing looks more luxurious than a shapely, wrinkle-free bag – this is your answer!’

  1. Look after your leather.

‘Leather is quite possibly the most difficult material to care for but worry not, by following a few simple steps you can keep your leather handbag looking brand-spanking-new for years to come. Firstly, remember to moisturise your bag with a leather conditioner regularly; apply this cream to a soft cloth and rub it over your bag gently. Then, make sure you address marks as soon as they appear, store your bag in a dust bag of its own and air your bag every couple of weeks to prevent dreaded mould from growing. Looking after leather isn’t easy but it’s definitely worth it!’

  1. Wrap your embellishments in tissue paper.

‘Embellishments make any handbag sing but they are innately delicate, meaning they need some tender-loving-care. To prevent diamonds from falling off, metal detailing from being scratched and embroidery from getting caught, make sure your embellishments are wrapped in tissue paper when you’re storing your handbag. Meanwhile, always carry baby wipes in your bag to give your metal embellishments a little spruce-up whilst you’re on the move. These small details make the world of difference!’

  1. Put your cosmetics in pouches.

 ‘Nothing threatens to ruin a bag more than loose make-up… if you’re carrying this with you, or any other kind of cosmetic, put your products in pouches to keep the inner lining of your bag clean. Equally, be conscious if you’re carrying pens – keep their caps on! Similarly, when you’re out don’t put your bag on the floor and if it’s heading back onto your shelf, give the surface a little dusting first.

Alternatively, create a cosmetics-safe lining on the inside of your bag. For example, place a layer of bubble wrap around the inside of your bag to prevent any spillages from creating marks.’

  1. Keep your bags apart even when you don’t need to be socially distanced!

 ‘When storing your handbags, it’s important that they’re not touching – this can cause marks and often colour-transfers. Leave a small gap between each of your bags to keep them safe!’

  1. Store them in dust bags or pillow cases.

 ‘No matter the size of your bag, it’s important that you keep it in a dust-safe bag of its very own. If your bag is on the larger-side, go for a pillow case! This’ll do the trick whilst giving your handbag room to breathe. You don’t want the dust bag to be too tight either, this’ll distort the shape of your handbag.

Handbag care isn’t simple but it certainly pays dividends, especially if you invest in great quality, timeless pieces. If this is the case, spend time truly nurturing the quality of your bag and you’ll continue to enjoy its beauty for years to come.’

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