Straw baskets and bags have weaved their way into summer looks.
By Sabrina Azadi
Once seen exclusively as a beach accessory, straw bags are making waves in the fashion industry to complement any summer ensemble—and they are the perfect accent piece for a seaside locale such as Newport Beach. With a beachy flair, the unpretentious beauty of natural, woven basket bags, helps create the aura of effortless style. Along with sun-kissed skin, tousled hair and sand between your toes, summer straw bags are the embodiment of all the magical summer moments that one may wish to capture and cherish.
Often made with natural fibers and woven by hand, the simplicity of straw bags is central to their appeal. Their texture is usually created by macrame or by woven reeds, wicker, palm, cane or other fibers that make them lightweight yet sturdy, to hold all your summer essentials.
Donning a summer-inspired basket is all about embracing a laid-back lifestyle. “Straw bags are a perfect way to express a casual-yet-chic style. It is an exotic style of bag to carry, with heels or even sneakers,” says Mariam Zand, owner of Piajeh, a clothing boutique in the Crystal Cove Shopping Center that carries a selection of resort-ready clothing and accessories.
Their chameleon-like quality makes them just as suited for carrying aboard a gleaming mega-yacht as they are for a small-scale Duffy ride, a trip to the farmers market and beyond. Zand suggests pairing them with “a Camilla dress, or a pair of white jeans and a silk top. … Look for something that is made with a good quality [straw material] and can fit everything you need for the day.”
Without airs and graces (although luxury brands are creating their own versions), straw bags are usually refreshingly devoid of fancy labels and recognizable monograms. Movie stars, models and style mavens alike have long been captivated by its pastoral power and, yet, the humble straw basket is as fresh and youthful as it was when it was first woven thousands of years ago.
There’s an innocence associated with straw bags, as they were first used to carry food—and some were even woven and waterproofed with a pitch coating to carry water. Delve back into any early civilization and remnants of straw bags can be seen, just before the emergence of pottery.
Fast forward to the 1970s and style icon Jane Birkin single-handedly popularized the modest basket. Although her name is synonymous with the famous Hermès Birkin handbag (named after her) she was a devotee of the simple straw tote and was photographed by the paparazzi carrying her signature rustic basket everywhere—whether she was by the beach or all dressed up entering the swankiest nightclub in the city—and often year-round.
California residents may also opt for these bags regardless of the season. “You can carry a smaller, more structured straw bag to make it more appropriate for the evening and, since California is sunny 365 days a year, if you live in California, you need a straw bag,” Zand says.
Whether your summer bag is big enough to carry a beach towel, book and change of clothes, or has just has enough room for some cash, sunglasses and keys, there’s a straw bag to fit your every need. From honey-pot shapes, circular cross-body bags and oversize totes to ones with embroidery, pompoms, jewels or tassels, there are as many varieties of straw bags to choose from as occasions to carry them.
So whether you’re a movie star or a mom, have a Hermès handbag named after you or just looking to sport the latest trends, we can all revel and enjoy the carefree charm of carrying a woven basket bag—during the summer and beyond.
All In One Basket
Carry your summer essentials in one of these naturally stylish woven works of art.