Alongside the Hermes Birkin bag, the Hermes Kelly bag is one of the most iconic handbags on the market. Famed for its craftsmanship, immediately recognizable style, and elusiveness in obtaining one, the Hermes Kelly bag is a true icon. Many women associate the Kelly with a formal look, opting for the Birkin if they fancy a more casual appearance or for less formal occasions. However, the Kelly is actually extremely versatile and can be used to complement a range of looks, outfits, and occasions. In this insights guide, we take a look at just how versatile this stunning bag is and how it can accompany you on any occasion.
A Little History…
First, to fully understand the Kelly bag we need to roll back the years to its conception. The Kelly bag came into existence due to an event in 1956, when a photo of Princess Grace Kelly holding a Sac a depeches bag to cover her pregnant belly hit the media. These pictures of her using a Hermes bag to cover her bump flooded the worldwide press, including the cover of Life magazine, leading the public to refer to the bag as the ‘Kelly’ bag. This led to Hermes officially renaming the bag and the rest is history.
Kelly Bag Production
As with all Hermes luggage and handbag collections, an assembly line isn’t used and instead an individual craftsman works on one bag at a time. The process of creating a Kelly bag can take between 18 and 24 hours with the use of exotic materials, hand stitching, and carefully constructed details all involved during the process. The first step of the process is to sew the lining, which is generally made from goat skin. After the lining, the base of the bag is crafted by hand sewing the front and back with waxen linen thread. The stitch used is called a double saddle stitch, with the placement of the needle during each stitch carefully selected. Before each stitch is created, a tiny hole is created with an awl, with the stitch size determining the size of the hole. For particular grains of leather, certain adjustments need to be made, making the process even longer.
Once this section is completed, the instantly recognizable handle is added to the body of the bag, with the shaping of done by hand with extremely close attention to detail. The leather is then smoothed with sandpaper and dyed to match color of the bag with hot wax applied to protect the handle from moisture and use. Next, the hardware and base studs are added, all of which are attached through riveting. The bag is then gently ironed to remove creases and wrinkles with the famous ‘Hermes Paris’ stamp added last to complete the process.
The Traditional Look
Traditionally, the Hermes Kelly is seen as a formal bag due to the shape of the handle and the clasp. There are several ways to wear it depending on how formal the occasion. One of the most popular ways is to hold the handle in the palm of the hand with the clasp undone for easy access to files, your purse, or other contents of the bag. However, the Kelly bag also comes equipped with a shoulder strap, allowing you to keep your hands free while still maintaining the professional and chic appearance a Kelly bag affords.
Styling the Kelly Bag
Even though the Kelly boasts a stunning design on its own, it is also possible to make the bag more casual by styling it with your own personal embellishments. Simple additions can transform the Kelly from a smart, formal bag that one would wear to a business luncheon or meeting into a stylish, casual bag that one could wear with jeans and a casual jacket when meeting friends for dinner. Here are some great ways to style your Kelly bag:
Tie a Scarf to the Handle
Tying a scarf to the handle of a Kelly bag can transform its appearance in an instant. Just that simple addition can add chic and immediately make the bag look less formal. It has other advantages too. Using a scarf can provide movement and add texture to the bag. Hermes have a range of elegant scarfs in a variety of colors and materials that can work perfectly with your Kelly. Whether it’s silk, cashmere, or vintage, a scarf can really add an extra element to the bag. When tying the scarf to the bag, use a loose single knot and let the ends of the scarf hang loosely on the end of the handle.
Wrap a Scarf Around the Handle
Another way to use a scarf is by wrapping it fully around the handle. This is a great idea if the scarf contrasts the colors on the bag and can make the bag look completely different in an instant. You can try different colors, materials, and styles of scarfs to see which one suits you better when using this method. To wrap the scarf around the bag, start by tying it on one end of the handle. Then start to gently wrap the scarf around the remaining area before tying gently on the opposite side. You can wrap one scarf around on handle, one scarf around two handle, two scarfs intertwined around two handles, or two scarfs with one on each handle. The possibilities are endless!
Add a Charm Bracelet
A rather personal touch, charm bracelets are wonderful embellishments for Kelly bags and are perfect for achieving a more casual look. Ensure you choose the charm bracelet carefully so it doesn’t look tacky and hang the chosen charm on the end of the handle. This could work with other types of bracelets too, as long as it matches the look and style you are trying to achieve.
Mix and Match the Strap
One of the wonderful features on a Kelly bag is the detachable shoulder strap. Remember, just because your Kelly comes with a matching strap, it doesn’t mean you are stuck with it! Try substituting the original strap for a different color. It can match or contrast the color of your bag, as long as you are happy with the final outcome. You can order Kelly straps from a Hermes boutique or online.