Dear Shopping Savage,
I'm thinking of investing in a white bag for the summer. Do you have any recommendations for keeping it clean and maybe even a brand that makes a good looking one?
White Haute ... or Not
Well honestly W.H.O.N.,
The best way to keep a white bag pristinely clean is to leave it in the store! However, if you're going to invest in a summer bag, and white is what you have your head, heart and hard earned money set on then there are a number of things you can do to get the longest life out of your white hot purse purchase. First, think about what function you want the bag to serve. For example, if you're looking for one to use everyday for work and even on the weekends then you'll want to look at a modest sized tote that can hold all of your daily essentials without looking like luggage. Also, if you can, opt for one that's base (or "bottom") either has "purse feet" or a pebbled leather, preferably in a darker shade. Both serve a dual purpose - they help support the bag but also prevent the bottom of your bag from looking so squalid.
Next, consider the bag's material. Look for leather, canvas or a water-resistant nylon like the one used for Longchamp's ever popular 'Le Pliage' tote - which happens to come in an assortment of colors, including white.
Now then there's maintaining that crisp white look. You could use scotchgard's fabric and upholstery protector for anything that may require a little more protection - be sure to test a small inconspicuous area before "gard"-ing the whole bag. One of my favorite personal cleaning tricks is an oldie-but-a-goodie: Shout triple-acting spray and an old toothbrush. I've treated just about every stain with this simple formula, and on just about everything - from shoes, shirts and pants to accessories such as my bags - that needed a little stain-fighting TLC.
At the end of the day - or more specifically, at the end of the summer - when you put the bag away, store it in a cloth drawstring bag. Most bags come with a "storage bag" like this but if not check with your local "super store" and they should carry something very similar. This allows the bag's material to breath while being protected from dust and the like till next summer.
Just be aware that accidents do happen and that some extra care and attention must be paid to light colored accessories, especially white ones. But take it all in stride. Do your homework, follow the tips I've mentioned and then just go for it. It's all in the name of fashion so it should be fun - anything beyond the rules I've set and your own instincts are just, well, white noise.