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A little customization can go a long way to livening up a basic bag, whether it’s a $15 clutch from Forever 21 or your grandmother’s old Louis Vuitton monogram shopper. The trick is choosing high-quality embellishments and then taking the time to execute your vision properly. Don’t just grab the first dingy old patch you find and hot glue it to last season’s Zara crossbody. Take the time to search the Internet for the right supplies and don’t be afraid to spend a little extra to get what you really want. Sure, you could tie any old charm to your bag and it would probably look just fine, but a hand-dyed fur pom-pom will look so much nicer, and even though $20 might seem like a lot to spend on a piece of pink fluff, in the big picture, it’s really a small price to pay for a full-blown bag makeover.
1. Replace your bag’s strap with a feminine piece of grosgrain ribbon.
Black Bag, ZARA, $70; Pink Grosgrain Ribbon, M&J TRIMMING, $2 per yard; Fur Pom-Poms, M&J TRIMMINGS, $5 to $20
Unclip the existing strap, or just tuck it inside the bag, then knot the ribbon to whatever hardware is attached to the bag. A single knot will look much nicer than a double knot, but you may want to add a couple stitches with a needle and matching thread to make sure it is secure.
Trim the excess ribbon and paint a thin strip of superglue along the edge to stop it from fraying. Do not apply the glue directly to the ribbon as it is easy to accidentally use too much. Either paint it on with a small brush or squeeze a dollop of glue onto some scrap cardboard and gently run the cut edge of the ribbon across the cardboard.
Finally, add some fun little bag charms to one side. You know, just because.
2. Monogram and then some!
Blue Reversible Tote, MERONA (Available at Target), $30; Patches, M&J TRIMMING, $2 to $6; Black Suede Clip-On Tassel, URBAN OUTFITTERS, $18
Monogrammed accessories are everywhere these days, but why stop with your initials? Use stickers, patches, and even pins to commemorate important events and activities in your life. The key is not to get too precious about where you place them on the bag. Set your bag on the table, throw your patches down, and see where they land. If you’re not totally satisfied, take a picture with your phone to document their placement — who knows, that first combo might grow on you — and try it again and again until you find an arrangement that really speaks to you.