How To Breathe New Life Into 3 Old Bags

Photographed by Tory Rust.
We've all got them: bags we used to love, but are now consigned to the back of our closets forever. And yet, for some mysterious reason, we can't bear to just get rid of the things.

Maybe the purse you've been hanging onto was your first big-girl designer purchase, or maybe it's the bag that saw you through four long years of traipsing across campus and late-night library cram sessions. Whatever the reason, there's no need for a nostalgic bag to stay stuck in the past (or in the closet).

With a little time and minimal DIY skills, you can turn your no-bueno bag into a shoulder-worthy showpiece once more. To prove it, we tapped our own creative team to give three bags a much-needed makeover.

Read on for how to make your sentimental sack actually cool again.
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Photographed by Tory Rust.
The bag: A Stained Chanel Flap Purse
The owner: Connie Wang, Style Director
"I've never thought of myself as a Chanel bag sort of woman. Not because they're not me (those Boy Bags are me through and through), but I'm way too clumsy to be responsible for one; my bags get spilled on, stepped on, scuffed up, and scratched.

"I received this one as a very (very) generous gift this past holiday. I was so excited to own it, I carried it literally every single day between Christmas and New Year's Eve.

"That night, I wore it to a friend's party, where we all congregated on the roof to watch the fireworks. In the moment, I set the bag on the roof floor to take an Instagram pic. When I got back inside, I realized I had put it in wet paint; there was a huge silver stain on the side. I tried wiping it off with cleaner, but it just irrevocably dulled the shiny tweed.

"Yes, friends, I ruined the first Chanel bag I ever owned, and I still feel awful about it. It's mostly stayed in its box ever since, because I can't bear to face what I did to it. I take it out every once in a while, half expecting the stain to magically disappear...but no cigar. But, I hang onto it, because how can you give away a Chanel bag, even a damaged one?"
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Photographed by Tory Rust.
The Makeover: Vintage Patch Explosion
The DIY-er: Anna Sudit, Junior Designer
"My main vision here was to cover up that stain — and why not make it crazy colorful in the process? We pinned on a ton of patches sourced on St. Marks Place, the Garment District, and thrift stores; you can find tons of cool old patches online, too.

"We ended up mixing a bunch of random ones together, putting our favorites on top and front to dominate the ones we liked less. Overall, the actual application process was super easy and quick. The most time-consuming part was finding great patches."

Connie's Take:
"LOVE IT. It's got that awesome shape, you can see the existing shiny tweed, and the patches are removable, so I can switch them out as I get new ones...or as I ruin the old ones with rooftop paint. There's something sort of punk about DIYing a Chanel bag, and this looks 100% better than the monster I 'created' on NYE. My bag loves its new outfit!"
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Photographed by Tory Rust.
The Bag: The Summer-In-France Souvenir
The Owner: Leeann Duggan, Style Features Editor
"Picture it: Summer 2005. I'm deeply in love with a French dude and visiting his family and friends in France for the first time. Prior to this, my international travel experience consisted of...Canada. So, one can imagine my excitement, as a girl raised on Nouvelle Vague and yé-yé 45s.

"After a few weeks tooling around the Breton countryside, getting carsick in flimsy Peugeots on winding dirt roads, and visiting megaliths, we arrived in Paris. I remember waking up early one morning and taking the Metro — alone! — to the massive flea market at Saint-Ouen and feeling like I was giving off pretty solid Anna Karina vibes as I browsed the many stalls with my straw bag and long-sleeved minidress.

"Wanting desperately to buy something but not having much money to spend, I settled on this, a rather anonymous-looking vintage leather bag that I told myself had a '70s, Charlie-girl flair.

"Having exhausted both my limited euros and French vocabulary, I went home triumphant, only later realizing that the bag was way more exciting in the Parisian morning light than it was in my closet. I wore it a few times, but it never really took hold in my wardrobe. It's basically a souvenir with a shoulder strap."
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Photographed by Tory Rust.
The Makeover: A Very Furry Revamp
The DIY-er:
Elliot Salazar, Graphic Designer
"The original bag was okay, but who wants a bag that's just okay? This one was crying out for a bold color, unexpected material, or a unique addition — so I gave it all three.

"Maybe it’s this ridiculously cold NYC winter, but cozy faux fur was our first choice for this bag. Like an episode of Project Runway, we hit up Mood Designer Fabrics, scoped out these contrasting green faux furs, cut them to fit, and applied with hot glue. And, we couldn't resist adding a furry keychain — a little extra texture and an homage to the Fendi Buggies charms.

"It was super simple to make and inexpensive, too. I would totally use this bag and I’m a guy!"

Leeann's Take:
"I seriously love my new bag. I've carried it more times in the last two weeks than in the prior five years combined. I have named it Oscar, after The Grouch, and I love that it comes with its very own Tribble. Thanks, Elliot!"
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Photographed by Tory Rust.
The Bag: The College Book Bag
The Owner: Annie Georgia Greenberg, Senior Style Editor
"My mom bought this bag for me to use in college. We bought it at Century 21 and I loved it because it was my first item from Marc by Marc Jacobs (I bought an MMJ orange polka-dot dress that day, too).

"It's sentimental to me because I lugged that thing back and forth across campus and on weekend trips for the better part of four years. I don't carry it anymore, because it's so beat up. Plus, I wrote my thesis out of that bag — it still makes me feel like I have homework to do.

"But, I can't get rid of it because there are just too many memories — and my mom bought it for me, duh!"
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Photographed by Tory Rust.
The Makeover: Mid-Period Pollock
The DIY-er:
Isabel Castillo Guijarro, Designer
"This one was a challenge because the size, pattern, and colors were already very busy. So, we wanted to avoid adding to that. The vision was to add as little as possible but with the highest impact.

"We started by covering most of the bag with gold spray paint as a blank canvas, before adding any color to it. Then, with Jackson Pollock's dripping paints as our inspiration, we started splattering the bag color by color: first white, then red and blue, using specialized leather paint. On second thought, we may have gone a little crazy. But, it was really fun to customize!"

Annie's Take:
"It's a unique idea and design. I like the gold layer. As for the rest, I'm still waiting for the paint to dry!"

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