Archive for August 2009
When I was a kid I had a small green and white Wm. J. Mills tote, which I loved the way kids love things that are miniature versions of things their parents have. (In our household growing up there were lots of extra-large canvas totes that we called “sailbags;” we mostly used them for laundry.) I hasn’t thought about that little green and white tote in ages, until I stumbled across this:
The label instantly reminded me of that old tote, and a web search showed that Mills is still in business, making wonderful candy-colored canvas bags n a variety of sizes.
They still make little ones as well, though neither of these looks just like the kind I had:
You can buy them online at the Wm. J. Mills shop.
Dictionary.com defines a tote bag as “an open handbag or shopping bag used esp. for carrying packages or small items.” Here are the elements that define a tote for me: It’s a casual, open-top bag, often made of canvas or leather, meant for carrying things. It is defined by its utility.
There are two main types: the wider, flat-bottom tote and the thinner, no-bottom tote. The first kind, when made of heavy fabric or leather, can stand up on its own. In shape, it resembles a paper grocery bag. The second type is constructed like a pillowcase with handles on the open end—there’s no bottom except for a seam. The first kind are handy because of their large capacity; the second kind are great because they pack flat, and when made of lighter weight fabric can be rolled up and stowed in a small space.
So are totes purses? No. They can be used instead of purses, but purses are defined by two things: 1) they’re exclusively used by women and 2) they’re meant for carrying money and personal effects. Totes are gender neutral and are meant to carry things like books, beach towels, or groceries. Totes can be decorated in feminine or masculine ways, but as a category they are gender neutral.
Next time on Deep Tote Thoughts? My tote manifesto.