Closet 101 Style

Closet Care: Storing Your Bags

A reader question I receive from time to time is one around storing bags. How many of us have a cherished designer bag in our wardrobe that we’ve had for years – that at some point we discovered was sagging, or misshappen? I had this happen to me a few years ago with a lambskin Chanel flap which over time, developed folds at its base. I had it displayed for years standing up on the top row of my shelf, so I could admire it (of course!).

I personally don’t mind sagging in bags and creases, folds, are all part of using your items. I do however try to take good care of my things, and have developed a few habits over time for my bags. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks!

1. Use a “shaper” in your large tote bags and other bags that require some added stiffness. No matter what you do, some bags will just sag and puddle over time. It’s a byproduct of their construction and material. I personally often find this a feature, not a negative – a big smooshy pile of high quality of leather is a luxury in itself. But sometimes, a bit more structure is nice.

Garden Party Insert

Enter the idea of a bag “shaper”. I had first heard of this concept when I was searching for options for my Hermes Garden Party, since after a few months of ownership mine had begun to lose its shape. Since I meant for the bag to sometimes double as a work tote, holding stiff papers, I wanted it to retain its shape. I was recommended the Etsy shop Divide and Conquer, and was able to order a stiff bag shaper customized exactly for my Garden Party. I love it! It even has a plastic base, so super easy to wipe off spills.

Another plus? A lot of bag shapers come with pockets to help you organize. I love mine and use it 100% of the time when I wear the Garden Party. It has helped my bags keep their shape immeasurably.

Garden Party Insert 2

2. Stuff your bags when not in use. Do you order everything from large exercise equipment to toothpaste from Amazon, like me? If so, then you should be very familair with all the nice sealed air packs that come with your orders.

Chanel Jumbo insert

Keep those bags! I use them to stuff the inside of my bags, which helps keep their shape and prevents them from “collapsing”. This helps a ton and there’s a reason why when you buy a bag from Hermes, there’s always a sealed air bag inside (yes, Hermes = Amazon in this case).

By the way, the bags will deflate over time so it’s always good to keep hoarding these sealed air bags periodically and then replacing them. Keeps them and your bags, nice and plump.

3. Store your bags correctly. This is so, so important and probably the biggest thing you can do over the long run to keep your bags pristine. There are a few components to storage, so read on!

Chanel jumbo chains

Bags with heavy chains should never be stored with chains on top of the bag. You can see with my flap above – I always “pull” the chains in if you will into the bag, and store with just a little bit of the chain handles out.

Another important point? Bags should ideally be stored on their side, instead of standing up. It’s simple gravity, you know? I know it can be a pain and can take up more space in your closet. And, our bags just look so pretty standing up! But if you can – and especially if you’re storing away for a longer period – lay your bags down on their “backs”. It’ll help keep their shape much longer.

One last point about storage – use your dustbags! You can see that my bag is entirely tucked into its dustbag here, and lying “down”.

Hermes kelly storage straps

I also like to keep the straps outside of the bag if possible – it helps me make sure I’m not laying them on top of the bag (potentially causing dents), and or storing the straps in a way where they themselves will have kinks/dents. What I’ll typically do is what you see above, and then curl the straps to the side around the bag, to maximize space.

There we go – my top 3 tips for storing and taking care of bags! What are some of your best closet care tips for bags?

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  • Joyce
    August 27, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    I check on my bags periodically if I haven’t used them for a long time. I was fortunate to take a break from this chore when I lived in a dry area. But when I lived in a humid area, I did it frequently because I can’t afford having my bags living with those uninvited friends – mold, microorganisms and what not. Prevention is always better than cure. 🙂

  • Olga
    August 27, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Great, helpful article! I am actually pretty terrible with my bag storage…

    I never really thought about storing my bags on their sides, but this is exactly what i am going to do now.

  • Vera
    August 28, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Thanks so much for sharing! May I know the style of the divider you use for garden party? I’d to get one for mine. Thanks in advance!

    • Katherine
      August 28, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      I’m so sorry I can’t remember anymore – what I would do is email the owner and tell her the size of GP you have and she will recommend. That’s what she did for me 🙂

  • Lisa
    August 28, 2014 at 6:23 am

    I have a Garden Party that was looking so awkward bc it sagged more on one side than the other that I took it in store to take a look at. There was nothing they could do but I think the problem will be solved if I order one of these purse organizers. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Katherine
      August 28, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      Ah I hope it works for you! I think it will 🙂

  • ahhhsoneo
    August 28, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Great points, I do all of these except for laying the bags on the side. Thanks so much for all these great tips, we make such a big investment in our bags, it makes sense to store them properly.

  • erica
    August 28, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    thanks so much for this! I’m going to check out that etsy site! I need exactly that for my garden party!!!

  • Ava Lon
    August 30, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Dear Katherine,
    Yet another great and informative post.
    I would add if you don’t have a closet that is climate controlled in some manner or there is no ventilation in there and gets potentially very hot and very stuffy — particularly with leather bags to regularly (like once every few weeks) open up your H dust bags and make sure that the straps aren’t sticking or starting to get too stiff. I would also strongly recommend wrapping the chains in felt before stuffing them inside in addition to keeping a little outside (as per your suggestion) and wrapping that part up, too, just to prevent any indentations on the inside of the bag if you tend to leave them unattended to for some time which sometimes occurs.

    Any exotic skins, I would recommend definitely NOT storing them somewhere that can get too hot as the scales can dry and curl sometimes. This goes for shoes and any other accessories you may have in exotics, particularly snake skin.

    Don’t have dust bags? No problem, use old pillowcases 🙂 and if you don’t want to spend the money on a shaper for your Garden Party, an old, larger shoe box (or your partner’s shoe/sneaker box as they may be a little bigger) wrapped in a towel can help temporarily. Frankly though, it’s better to get a shaper for it’s practicality and daily usefulness. 😀

    This rule applies for anything you may have that has embroidered sequins, paillettes, beading, etc. If you store items like these somewhere too hot and too dry, this can make the embroidery thread too brittle and they will crack when you next wear them and you will be sprinkling beads and/or sequins all over the place at your next function. 🙁

    Hope that helps!

    • Katherine
      August 31, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Great points! I know that people in more humid climates need to open up their items more often and let them “air out” – thanks for the reminder!

  • Amy
    September 11, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Amazon air packets — brilliant idea!

    DampRid or Thirsty Hippo moisture absorbers are also good for small spaces in humid environments.

  • Anonymous
    October 8, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Could you please post a picture of how your shaper in your GP and how you have things organized? Does it make the bag look stiff from the outside? Thanks.