February 11, 2013

How To Heal Your Handbag In 7 Easy Steps

I thought it only fitting to kick off the week of Valentine's love with some words of wisdom on a subject that most style-lovers consider near and dear to their hearts—handbags.


Model: Katie Osumi; Leopard Dress & Bag: Mary Jo Matsumoto.com

When a shiny promising relationship ends in disaster, most people will admit that the hardest thing to deal with {besides missing the beloved} is their own crushed dreams. When we first fall in love with a beautiful handbag, we imagine how it will make our life more glamorous. Like a dashing lover, we expect this fabulous bag to reflect something of our own personality--good taste {it’s the perfect color}, good values {the craftsmanship shows our appreciation of quality}, grounded {it’s practical}, and that extra je ne sais quoi {perhaps wit and whimsy if we’re lucky}. But when things fall apart, time does not heal all wounds when it comes to handbags. The sooner that you get around to “fixing” your bag, the better!

Remember that friend who advised you to make a list of the 10 qualities that you most want in a partner and then rip it off after #3 and toss the rest because you really can't expect more than that in life? Just like bad love advice, there's plenty of misinformation on the web that will ruin not repair your beloved bag.


If you've ever thrown the bag that was once dearest to your heart into the darkest corner of your closet and turned your attentions elsewhere, then you're just like a suitor that dodges and runs at the first hint of trouble in paradise. Believe me, I've had handbag shame myself and know what it's like to start looking immediately for a younger fresher model. But if you’ve had some good times, and think your beloved is worthy of taking the trouble to heal your relationship, then I can help!

Being a handbag designer, I get a lot of questions about how to care for leather. When it comes to this subject, I trust my leather dealers implicitly. These guys buy, sell and man-handle leather skins all day in a giant leather warehouse and have been doing so for decades. 



 Lay down a clean towel {not a good one} on a flat surface. Have a few clean microfiber cloths nearby and ready to go. Get your conditioner situated someplace where it can’t spill on your bag. My leather guys recommend 4-Way Care Conditioner.


Gently pull the lining out of the bag if possible and lightly and carefully dust off debris with your fingers and/or a clean cloth. Do not vacuum {as recommended on the Martha website under any circumstance! I adore Martha's site but on on this one subject I trust my handbag guy's more}.  You wouldn't vacuum your most precious Prada pencil skirt would you? Why would you vacuum an item that costs up to 10 times more per square foot than your most precious piece of clothing? Vacuuming can also ruin the shape of the bag. Carefully clip any stray threads to avoid future pulls and tears in the lining.  Re-insert your lining—it’s time to start conditioning the leather.


Apply conditioner to your microfiber cloth. Do not apply conditioner directly to the leather no matter what your instructions might say and make sure to blot the cloth on itself before applying. Less is more, you can always go over it a second time, but it’s much harder to even out a dark spot once you make one.


Don’t rub too vigorously. Even though I went over my bag very lightly, you can still see how much color came off.


The pros know what they're talking about. I was afraid the blue might turn too dark using 4-Way, so I tried out my own lighter conditioner first. After giving the bag some time to absorb the conditioner, I could see that the handles were still looking worn. I applied a thin coat of 4-Way and the results were much better. Next time I'll stick exactly to their instructions.


Give the bag some time to absorb the conditioner (unless your directions specify otherwise). Then, very gently wipe the excess off with a clean microfiber cloth. Don’t wipe too much, except for the handles and areas that will be immediately touched and let totes air by hanging them on a doorknob overnight. If it still needs a bit of a wipe down the next morning, then very gently wipe away any excess.


Stuffing tissue {or plastic bags} inside your handbag will help it to keep its shape between wearings.
Voila, your bag should be ready to go back into heavy romantic rotation!

That’s it for today style lovers! Hope these tips and tricks of the trade help you to heal your own handbags in need of some loving RX!

P.S. If you'd rather read this in French, you can do so here.

xo Mary Jo

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The Dainty Dolls House said...

These are great advises! I wish I had them ages ago after following the advise of someone telling me to clean the leather. Oh well, I don't use much leather now any ways :) But, it's very wise to know these things, they will save you time & money. I hope you have a wonderful week Mary Jo!! xox

Jenee C. said...

Such great advice Mary Jo! I've always resorted to vacuuming my handbags since I'm kind of lazy but it makes so much sense not to! Do you have any tips on removing watermarks from leather? Or is that a lost cause too? Would also love some advice on cleaning lambskin. It feels a lot more delicate than cow hide and somewhat porous if that makes sense. Hope you had a great weekend!

xx Jenee C.
{camo meets couture}

Audrey Allure said...

Interesting - great tips! Didn't know about the vacuuming bit. Good to know! xo

Punctuation Mark said...

I love this post!!! I have one bag that I love and take good care of it... Sadly it has become a little small to wear it if I have to Cary my iPad with me.

Blond Duck said...

I want that leopard dress!

Mary Jo at TrustYourStyle said...

Thanks Blond Duck! It's from my couture collection.

Mary Jo

MOSAMUSE said...

nice transformations!! i have to try this!! Its a great thing to do before putting your winter purses away


Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Oh what great tips! I am so picky about the handbags I get that when I find one I really like I usually just pretty much wear it out! So I am always glad to know how to keep them looking nice. We are so glad that you are liking the soap! Thanks.

Sandy at Ooh La Frou Frou said...

Great leather tips, Mary Jo ... such good information, thank you! And I love the way you compared bags to lovers ... so perfect for this week! Thanks so much for stopping by and have a fabulous week, Mary Jo. Your bags are delicious. xo ~S

SANDY M Illustration

Alexis Grace said...

I am bookmarking this! This is really great advice :)

Alexa said...

Ok I am seriously going to print these out and hang them on my closet wall...because I always feel like I'm googling for answers constantly, and who knows what advice you're getting. Thank you!

dimitri said...

It's a very nice and interesting transformation.
So pretty bag.
Nice post Mary Jo.

miss b said...

You will know from my post this week that I am a handbag lover so this post was perfect for me. Great tips!

Cafe Fashionista said...

Great advice, Mary Jo! I have a few Rebecca Minkoff bags, and I refused to so much as leave the house with them until they were conditioned - it works wonders! :)

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

Great tips Mary Jo! I try to condition my bags when I can as well - some good conditioner and a touch up can really revitalize a purse!

Chic 'n Cheap Living

Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

This was fabulous Mary Jo! I love how you tied in Valentine's Day with this post. I did not know all of this about leather. It definitely requires proper care. Thanks for mentioning these doll.

classiq said...

What a great and useful post, Mary Jo! I'm bookmarking this!
PS: Mary Jo, have you received my emails? I have the impression they got lost on the way again. :)


Great and helpful advise Mary Jo. I also love Martha's site, it's one of my favourites! xo

Style Diary Of A Fashion Fanatic said...

Thank you SO much Mary Jo!!!!!
This post is awesome not to mention informative!!!!!
Hope you're having a fabulous week!!!!

Fashion-Bridge said...

These are very good tips! Thank you Mary Jo! I have a couple of bags which are in need of a proper cleaning - healing! Thanks again for your advice




Allison said...

I definitely love all of the tips. I use the "lovin' my bags" brand products and they have worked really well so far. I'm always on the hunt for new products though because I'm psychotic about keeping my bags cleaned, which is why they rarely get taken out! :)

A's Fashion Files
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Imogen said...

This is great. I really need to try this, a lot of good advice which I wouldn't have thought of.

MM said...

Thank you so much for sharing, Mary Jo!! You are wonderful!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!

xoxoxo MM

A BRIT GREEK said...

Absolutely fantastic post! Love this!

Hope you've had a wonderful Valentines!

Heather Fonseca said...

Great post! I'm afraid I don't take very good care of my handbags, but then most of them started out pretty cheap to begin with. I like the idea of storing them with tissue. I've heard it before but have never done it. Ill try!

Not Just A Pretty Dress said...

Thank you so much for these expert advices! And I'm going to tweet about it because it is important to share this kind of information...From another bag lover!

Beauty Follower said...

Helpful tips, thanks for sharing!

Luxury In A Gift said...

Great tips! Much appreciated. Thanks.

Repair Bag said...

Awesome and useful tips!!! I try to condition my bags when I can as well - some good conditioner and a touch up can really revitalize a purse!

sanam arzoo said...

I have a small bag selection and these guidelines are really beneficial. However i don't like the fragrance of set purses when they are old. do you know how can i get rid of that old set smell?

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