Today’s Pocketbook: Shiny, Roomy, Gasoline-Powered

The ultimate fashion accessory may be parked in your garage.

According to Kate Spade, doyenne of the boxy ‘90s handbag, the essential components of a good purse are “function and style both,” which are qualities many L.A. women demand of their cars. And indicators of how they load them.

“I used to ride the bus and carry a backpack,” says Cameron Murray, a 25-year-old art student. Now she packs everything from books to stockings in her 1997 Honda CR-V.

Change the wheels for a comfortable strap, and you’ve got a huge metal handbag. The glove compartment serves as an overgrown inside pocket, holding everything from work documents to spare intimates. Barbara (last name withheld), an engineer, admits she stashes a pair of panties there.


The bottom-of-the-bag zone, a reservoir of change and pens, spreads from the ashtray to the back seat. Location scout Marjorie Kaye fills this area with job-related essentials, plus snacks and cigarettes.

Of course, it’s the rare woman who hasn’t used the rearview mirror as a vanity. “I usually put my lipstick on blind and check it in the mirror before I jump out of the car,” says 28-year-old Jen Caruthers.

Think of the trunk as a bonus compartment, though we may be crossing the line into suitcase territory here. Deanna Duran, a 24-year-old clothing buyer for Hot Topic, carries three cowboy hats, makeup, a pair of tennis shoes and cat food in the trunk of her 1995 Honda Civic.

Form follows function, indeed.

“I [like] a handbag that has great lining, like gingham plaid or red satin,” says Spade.

The red leather interior of Caruthers’ 1965 Ford Fairlaine 500 would likely meet with the designer’s approval.