One of my seasonal rites is shopping for a new handbag.1 It’s a mystery to me why I have to do this. You’d think a bag would outlast a season.2 But these things get a lot of wear and tear. Pen marks appear on the surface; unidentifiable lint accumulates at the bottom; once-sturdy straps fray and then suddenly snap, scattering loose change, Kleenex, tampons, and costly pills for allergy and anxiety in all directions.

Even the best handbags don’t wear well. I inherited two Coach bags from my mother. Coach bags are supposed to be indestructible, and, it’s true, they don’t fall apart — they just look increasingly awful. One of the bags my mother left me was originally off-white but, with time, turned a sickly beige. One day, I realized it had taken on the coloration and texture of human skin. The other bag was black and… More…