Thursday, April 26, 2012


Ask a Clean Person: Dude, Where's My Coach?

I love Ask a Clean Person because I am so not a clean person. I'm also not an expensive bag person because of aforementioned inability to be clean, but for my birthday in November my boyfriend got me a what I would consider ridiculously expensive bag. Somehow I have managed to keep it relatively stain free, but on the bus tonight I read the newspaper and when I looked down at my purse I realized that some ink had smudged onto it!

I called the stupid expensive bag company [Coach] for cleaning instructions and I was told that didn't have any for this expensive bag (made of a poly-satin blend)(I do not know what this means but it seems important?), and moreover do not use water or soap on it because the different colors on the bag could bleed onto each other. So I hung up the phone and went to the sink and slightly wetted a paper towel because I am apparently five years old, and I thought, "well, I'm only rubbing one area with one color." So now I am writing to you because somehow the stain got even more noticeable with the one second of rubbing that I did. Please help! I'm totally kicking myself for accepting the awesome and beautiful present in the first place.

Well wait, first things first: those people at Coach are jerks! They should have helped you. I'm actually really appalled at their response to you.

Back in the land where people are actually nice and helpful, I have a few suggestions for you:

(1) This sounds crazy but hairspray takes pen out of silk. I know! Go for something cheap like AquaNet, spray it on the stain and then blot it (blot! Don't rub! Blot!!!) with a clean white towel. The stain should pull right up. If that doesn't work ...

(2) take the bag to a dry cleaner, tell them what the stain is, and I bet they'll be able to get it out.

Also let's talk for a moment about having nice things and a theme I see a lot, "I shouldn't be allowed to have nice things!" There is, of course, a certain level on which you should take extra care with your nicer items. Wearing your suede Tods in a blizzard? Yeah, you should beat yourself up over ruining your $500 shoes because you're irresponsible! But getting a stain on a nice bag, or scuffing a shoe while getting out of a cab? That's just life! Accidents happen, and if they happen to you it absolutely doesn't mean that you're a person who doesn't deserve to have nice things. The fact that you've taken the time to ask how to clean the item actually is the best indication possible that you do, indeed, have every right to have nice things! 

I just bought my very first Coach handbag — a vintage red cross-body style purse. It is the fanciest accessory I own and I love it and I think it was meant for me. The lady who sold it to me said it was probably from the early '80s, and it has some wear and scratches and the like, which is totally fine since it is vintage. But I've noticed that after using it every day it's started to look a little ... dirtier? And here are some new scratches and things? And so I was wondering: is there a good way to clean red leather? Should I do it myself or can I take it to a cobbler-type person? And is there some sort of protectant that I can put on it so it doesn't get more worn-looking than it is already? I should note that this is my first real leather item (I just finished being a grad student!) so I really have no idea how to take care of nice things.

Sounds super cute, good score!! Colored leather, especially the lighter hues, will definitely start to show dirt after a while. Because most handbags are finished leather, you actually don't need any fancy products to get them clean again — plain ol' soap and water will do the trick. A gentle bar soap like Dove is a good choice, and because we're dealing with leather, which isn't the biggest fan of water, technique is important.

You'll need a clean cloth of some sort, along with your soap. Get a good lather of soap on the cloth, squeezing as much excess water as you can out of it while still retaining the suds, and then gently rub the lather on the stain. When the staining has come up, rinse the cloth well, squeeze all the excess water out until it's just barely damp and wipe the bag off.

Once you've cleaned it of dirt and grime, you'll want to address those scratches and dings. There are two things you can try: (1) a leather conditioner, or (2) red shoe polish, which is actually easier to find than you'd think. A quick note on shades of shoe polish: there's a very common color called cordovan, which is not what you want for bright red bags, as it will be too dark. Both products can be applied to your bag using a soft cotton or flannel cloth. You can buy commercially available shine cloths, or just use an old tee or flannel shirt.

In general, handbag experts don't recommend using shoe polish on leather bags, because the leather used on shoes is different. I don't know that I completely agree with them — particularly in the case of colored leather, shoe polish (used very, very sparingly) is a good way to go, but I'd not be doing my job here if I didn't at least give you that spiel. It's also important to know that some leather conditioners can darken the shade of your hide, so you always want to test it out on a portion of the bag where, if it does darken the leather, the blemish won't be super noticeable. This effect varies brand by brand, but the Apple Brand products get high marks for not causing any unwanted changes to leather goods, so you may want to check their line out.

I am not the cleanest person, nor am I fashionable enough to even know what makes a Coach purse so special, but it is my fault that a pot of buffalo hot sauce spilled directly on my sister's beloved leather Coach purse, so I feel as though it is my responsibility to help her. Do you have any special secrets for removing buffalo sauce from a purse? My sister was in tears and I feel like the worst sister in the world.

You are so sweet to be so upset about your sister's bag!! I can totally understand why she was upset, but also it was just an accident, and having an accident doesn't make you the worst sister in the world.

With that said, Buffalo sauce is a NASTY stain to get out, because of the combination of tomato and vinegar. Just vicious. So my advice to you is to take the bag to a leather repair shop, or even a local cobbler, and ask if they treat stained leather. You can hit Google to look up businesses in your area that specialise in this sort of thing — a good keyword to try is "leather spa" (is everyone else picturing cows sitting in those pedicure massage chairs or, like, lounging in a mud bath?). For those of you in New York, there is a place on 55th Street right off Fifth Avenue called The Leather Spa that you must know about if you're a fancy shoe and bag gal; they also offer mail-in services for those outside the area. It's where all the Upper East Side ladies go to have their leather goods rehabbed, and the people watching alone more than makes up for the pretty penny you'll spend for their services. But look at it this way: if you've spent upward of $200 or $300 on a bag, putting another $20 or $30 into it really isn't so much.

There are at-home leather cleaning options as well, but given the nature of this particular stain I truly do think the cleaning is best outsourced.

My mom gave me a beautiful white leather Coach tote that she doesn't want anymore, and the only thing that's NOT beautiful about it are these tiny, rusty looking stains, about the size of the head of a pin, which I would ignore, but there are a lot of them. Which is probably the reason she gave it up so willingly, but I'm more stubborn about salvaging it than she is. I've tried wiping at them with hot, soapy water, but no dice. I don't want to scrub too hard because, you know ... pretty white leather. Short of dealing with the tiny rusty polka dots, is there anything that can be done about this? If they can't be cleaned, can they be covered up? I'd love to show it to her and have her regret passing it up.

Since soap and water didn't work, it looks like we're dealing with a stubborn stain and not just a dirt situation. Given that, your best bet here is to get your paws on some white shoe polish and give the bag a really good going over with it, using a soft cloth and a sparing amount of the polish; it's always better to use less and judge if/when you need more — you don't want to glop the polish onto your bag. A little goes a long way! When you've gone over it with the polish, use another clean soft cloth to buff it. In terms of what kind of cloth to use, shoe shine cloths – generally made of flannel — are available, but you can also use an old cotton t-shirt, or an old sock, or an old soft flannel shirt that you've cut up into rags.

The white shoe polish will, in all likelihood, cover those stains right up, and brighten up the entire bag as well. And then as soon as you're done, please do go show it off to your mom and be all, "Too bad, too sad, you gave up this beautiful Coach bag!" And then maybe stick your tongue out for good measure.

A few weeks ago, on a whim, I purchased a bunch of travel-sized body sprays from Bath & Body Works (where I haven't shopped since middle school, so I have NO IDEA what possessed me to buy these). I stuck one in my purse, and lo and behold, IT LEAKED. Like, leaked all over the inside of my favorite eggplant-colored leather Coach purse. I thought the lining soaked up most of it, so I stuck some paper towels in the empty bag thinking everything would be fine in the morning. Yesterday, as I was fumbling through my bag for something, I noticed a HUGE stain where the spray soaked into the leather. I have no idea what to do, or even if there is anything I can do! Because of the color of the leather, I can't just take some shoe polish to cover it up. Is there eggplant colored shoe polish out there? Will shoe polish even work? Have I ruined my bag? Help!!!

Oh well there sure is eggplant colored shoe polish! In fact, there is shoe polish available in just about every color under the sun, and it's not terribly pricey. It might be a little bit hard to find, but in this, The Internet Age, just about everything is a click away, which is so freaking handy isn't it??

There are two brands that offer a particularly wide array of polish hues: Tarrago and Meltonian. Check those out for a shade that most closely matches your bag. If you want something a little easier to find, there's a very common color of shoe polish called cordovan, which is a deep red/burgundy/oxblood hue that might work for you. Because it's not quite a match for eggplant, test it out on an unobtrusive part of the bag to see if it's a close enough match.

Before you get into polishing it, though, I want you to get some cornstarch from the grocery store, lay the bag flat, and sprinkle a goodly heap of the stuff on the stain — it will help to pull out some of that grease stain. Let it sit for a few hours/up to overnight and then brush the powder away with a dry cloth. If there's any residue, slightly dampen the cloth and wipe it off. Hopefully that will have lessened the appearance of the stain, and now you'll be ready to go over it with the polish. Same advice as to the others: use the polish sparingly and apply with a soft cotton or flannel cloth before buffing to a shine with a clean cloth.

I have a CLEANING EMERGENCY if there ever was one — I have never been so upset about getting something dirty. My boyfriend gave me a gorgeous Coach purse for my birthday and, it doesn't matter how, but somehow I get bike grease on it. It's the Poppy Striped Rocker. It doesn't say what kind of fabric it is, but I know that it's fabric.

I have NO idea where to start because I don't want to ruin the bag or make it worse. PLEASE help me. What do I do??

You sweet thing — do not worry! Your absolute best bet given the nature of the stain is to take it to a dry cleaner. Tell them what the stain is and ask if they can treat it, and if not (and this is the important part!) where there is a specialty cleaner in your area. If you're hellbent and determined to treat the thing at home, you can refer back to our cute friend and her bicycle and treat the grease stain with either Lestoil or Motsenbocker's Lift Off #2, which are designed to treat grease stains. Man, I love those Motsenbockers.


Here's where things got fun! Because of the volume of emails I get, I generally can't answer everyone's questions personally. But if someone catches me while I'm, like, lying in bed drinking coffee and the answer is an easy one, I'll write back, which is what I did in this case. And then! Then our friend with the stained Coach bag one-upped me, not only by writing back but by telling me all about a solution she hit upon on her very own! AND IT WORKED! So obviously I have to share it because alskhflksdhlgkh yessssssss!!

The major conundrum with cleaning my Coach bag is that I was out of town visiting family, and I didn't have enough time to take it to a dry cleaner — nor did I have one in the area I trusted — but I also didn't want to risk leaving the stain and having it set in, taking it on a plane and risk rubbing it against all sorts of surfaces and making it worse.

So, between the time I emailed you and when I read your response, I did some research, and took a MAJOR risk and cleaned it myself.

One issue is that the bag is fabric, not leather, but even after calling Coach customer service, I could NOT figure out what exactly it was made out of. [Seriously Coach? What the cluck? You are the worst, and someone needs to say it. – JK] So, I kind of had to trust that there was no silk or anything mixed in there.

I went to the hardware store and looked for Lestoil or Mostenbocker's and didn't find them. I ended up getting K2R, which is super scary and toxic but it WORKED! After brushing off the bulk of the spray (it turns into powder when it dries), there was still a white residue, so I used a new toothbrush, lightly wetted, to get the rest off. At first, it left a nasty water stain when it dried, but after a day or two, it was entirely gone. So, I just wanted to share this so that if you ever find yourself in a similar predicament, you can know that I took a big risk spraying some toxic shit on my mystery-material Coach bag, and it all worked out okay!

A happy ending if I've ever heard one!

Previously: Fragrant Shoe Season Arrives Early.

Jolie Kerr is not paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this column, but she sure would be very happy to accept any free samples the manufacturers care to send her way! Are you curious to know if she's answered a question you have? Do check out the archives, listed by topic. More importantly: is anything you own dirty?

198 Comments / Post A Comment


While we're on the subject of coach bags, can anyone tell me about the repair service that Coach offers? I have a (all leather) coach laptop bag that I got as a graduation present, and it's starting to show wear from being used constantly for the past 5 years, and has a tear on one of the corner rolls. I'm considering using coach's service because this is the nicest and most used bag I own.


@bocadelperro Ah ha! Could this explain their miserable customer service? I bet they want you to use their "refurbishment service" rather than help you figure out how to clean things yourself.


@bocadelperro My experience with coach repairs has always been "We cannot repair this, here is a credit for a new item that is very close to what you paid in the first place," however I have always gotten repairs done in the first two years.



Ok. Here's what you do. Take it into a Coach store. If you can. And be nice. Be sure nice and appreciative, but firm.

I bought a great Coach wallet at Nordstrom Rack for $50! But after about 3 months of using it, it got a really nasty loose thread that started to open up. Now this is prolly cause I bought it at the Rack. But I took it in to the Coach store at the mall. I complained but was nice and talked about how much I like Coach and how I haven't had that problem with any of my other Coach items. The guy was really nice, they're trained to bend over backwards for you. So he sent it out for repairs, free of charge, and they couldn't repair it. BUT they sent me a credit for $230!! Net profit? $170. So I like that alot.

Also my roommate has one Coach purse that is her only purse. (I know she's nuts) but she has one purse. That purse has been through hell and back. The straps have broken, she's gotten them repaired free of charge. It was thrown up on by a famous hockey player and dry cleaned. The straps have broken again! And she is getting them repaired. I don't know if she paid the $20 fee this last time around, but I doubt it. Anyway. The moral of the story is that the Coach people, in the store, are generally pretty good.

Leslie Popplewell

@bocadelperro I am one of those people who only have one bag. It's a small black Coach backpack kind of thing. I got my first one in college and never looked back. I love having my hands free, even though these days a backpack kind of purse has not been a thing for a while, probably. I wore it so much my mom started hinting that maybe I would like a new purse for Christmas. One day I was in a Coach store looking around and this lady came up and asked where I had found that distressed bag I was wearing. 20 years of being lugged around, scuffing on everything. Then finally a strap broke and Coach acted like I was a Jehovah's Witness calling them on the phone. After being huffy for a while I finally decided that it had given me good service and found another one EXACTLY like the first one. The old one is sitting on my desk waiting to be refurbished, or something. Some shoe polish once a year at Christmastime when my dad can't stand to look at it anymore really does improve its appearance.


Another good one!♥@k


Oh man. Slightly off-topic, but Coach is seriously THE WORST company when it comes to things like this. I bought a pair of boots from them last year, and within a month the soles had completely worn through at the ball of the foot. I took them back to Coach and they said they would send them in to be repaired but it would take about 8 weeks to get them back. Sucks, but okay. About 3 weeks later I get them back, unfixed, with a note saying that their "expert" shoe repair people couldn't do anything about it. It's a simple resole! So I then did what I should have done in the first place, took them to a cobbler, and $25 later they were better than new. The cobbler even said that the "leather" soles some companies put on their shoes are little better than cardboard.

Moral of the story - never buy from Coach.


@jaimie well I guess that answers my question above. Thank goodness I know a decent cobbler!


@jaimie Yea, I like their older styles but I don't really get the Coach love. I went into an outlet and people were freaking the fuck out... its just a purse that says COACH ... like a million times...


Yeah, I think most of their non-leather bags are tacky as hell. But I guess I should qualify this by saying that I do love buying vintage Coach bags -- I have 3 '70s era bags in different colors that I bought on ebay for about $15 a piece -- but I would never again buy something directly from the company or spend more than like $50 on anything from them.


@jaimie Good to know. I have a couple of older ones from my mom that are cross body... I have had good luck with Etienne Aigner and Tignanello, also nice leather bags.


@jaimie I read somewhere once (helpful, right?) that most designer shoes have terrible thin leather soles, and basically the first thing you need to do with your $$$ shoes is immediately take them and drop some more $ to get them resoled. And people wonder why I wear Converse every day...


@GEEKitty This is true. I bought some fancy shoes a few years back, and the saleswoman in the boutique told me I should go out immediately and get soles put on them. This kind of sucked to be told to put money on top of more money (and to wait to wear my new shoes!), but those shoes have lasted FOREVER (8+ years) as a result with no need for another resoling. Now I resole all of my new shoes, regardless of fancy brand and whatnot, and it seems to help them survive the hell on shoes that is NYC/valparaiso.


@DrFeelGood Ew if it has the name written on it a million times PASS TO THE MAX. I am seriously still kind of mad at Marc Jacobs for starting that whole fad.


My dad will RAGE about this. It's a little hilarious.
"If you are wearing THEIR clothes with THEIR name splashed all over it, why the hell are you paying THEM to wear it? Shouldn't THEY pay YOU? It's like advertising, but the billboard owner pays the company. I DON'T GET IT!"
Dad- thanks for saving me from becoming a label-whore.


Clean person--I have that exact bag and it is filthy because some philistines at the Brooklyn Brewery had a BEER SPITTING CONTEST right next to it and now you have saved me from having to throw it away. I have heard rumors of cleaners that handle leather handbags - does anyone know of a good one in NYC in case the above doesn't do the trick? I don't wanna send this thing to just anyone.

I also have a white handbag (in NYC! I know, crazy, right?) that has been saved many many times by Mr Clean Magic Erasers and baby wipes.


@parallel-lines oops, just saw the leather spa recommendation--sorry clean person!




@alannaofdoom Seriously! A) Why are they not just condoning, but ENCOURAGING, spitting? and B) if it's good beer THEN WHY ARE YOU SPITTING IT OUT??


@Jinxie Exactly exactly! Drinking beer: you are doing it wrong.


@Jinxie Maybe it's Genny Lite?


@parallel-lines Hi!I just wanted to kindly, and gently, point out that as a Palestinian, I hate when people refer to idiots/morons/uneducated people as philistines.

just reading in a boat no big deal

Whaaaaaat? How can we have produced so many Coach-related questions? Jolie, [stern look] have you been sitting on these for a while, until they all fit under a themed entry? Honestly at a loss because, so many Coach questions!!!


I eagerly await "Ask a Poor Clean Person" when we talk about cleaning nacho sauce off our cheap target wallets.


@Gnatalby I just realized recently that I've had my cheap Target wallet for almost 10 years. And it's still looking mighty fine.


@yamtoes Mine has some mystery threads coming off it, but it's still cute. ish. To my eyes.


@Gnatalby Target wallets unite! Mine is a faux-croc style that contains way too many cards (including an almost filled up Cold Stone Creamery one). I keep pretending I'm going to "invest" in an expensive one, but that seems highly unlikely anytime soon.


@beanie Target wallets! I have giant houndstooth. The black part of the pattern is a separate piece of fake leather sewn to the white part. Fancy!

Roxy Throatpunch

@Gnatalby Right? My dark-wash jeans bled on to my totally cute, totally fake-leather yellow Target purse and I have no idea what to do about it. And was actually going to email JK! But haven't done it yet.

tea tray in the sky.

@Roxy Throatpunch You just reminded me that I've been meaning to look up how to clean denim dye off of my own leather bag. I started typing into to "denim dye stain leather..." and guess what it autofilled? "Coach bag".

dj pomegranate

I also inherited an awesome 60s/70s brown coach bag almost exactly like the one in the photo and it is soooo so great but also scratched and dingy and now I am going to fix it by myself! Thanks, A Clean Person!


@dj pomegranate I inherited my Abuela's purses when she died, including a brown coach purse like the one up there. I used leather honey on them, and they look almost new. I can't recommend that stuff highly enough.


@dj pomegranate My mother gave me her version of that exact bag, but in navy! I love it, although I've switched to a messenger bag for the extra space. It is also heavy as fuck.

Heather Thompson@facebook

@dj pomegranate you will have to be very much like A Clean Person in your anality of using it, but waxy leather balms on this color of Coach work magic. I use a product called Otter Wax Leather Salve, you'll see a noticeable darkening right away but do a thorough coating, once it sink it and you buff off the leftover wax, it will literally glow. Vintage Coach bags are made of wonderful leather and really just need some good restorative oils to bring out their beauty and make those scuff marks look like dignified smile lines.


i had never even HEARD of Coach until this episode of AACP.

are they... like longchamp? It seems like every handbag I see on the arm of a moderately stylish office worker in her twenties is a longchamp one.


@cee Coach used to be "your mom's purse"; full grain leather sturdy handbags in very simple shapes. Now it's rather trendy, from large colored leather bags to fabric bags with COACH emblazoned on them or C's on them, sort of like a more affordable Louis Vutton.


Agh, some of those look like a fear-of-holes trigger :( I guess the appeal is in its relative long life, since LW2's is 30 years old?
Ohhhh, just realized I had gotten (a smaller) one of these from my dad, who won it at a door prize thing? I used it for a makeup bag during a chorus performance and ended up giving it to an extremely grateful popular girl. Now that unresolved confusion memory is a happy memory!


@cee Coach also used to make their bags in the USA, and now they're all made in China. But they don't cost any less.


@DrFeelGood I (very briefly) worked for Coach--for many years they were known for producing high quality, long lasting leather goods but the market seems to be in cheaper, more disposable lines (such as the Poppy and fabric lines) which younger consumers buy so they're going that route. Doubt you'll see as many awesome vintage Coach bags twenty years from now like we do today. The focus was shifting away from 'you'll have this bag forever' to you'll buy a lot of these' which probably explains why their customer service is so crummy. But it was very fun to get to browse the handbag library where they keep a copy of every bag ever made.

Somewhat little known fact: they make some of the prototype handbags on 34th Street--get in good with a Coach employee and they can fix it there.


@parallel-lines ooh.. So you're telling me I should BUY ALL TEH VINTAGE HANDBAGS. Good to know :) It's a little sad that in 30 years, all our vintage stuff will be poorly made crap, not some of the lovely stuff you can find today.

Now I'm having flashbacks of being a kid and shopping with my mom. Her coach purse was so f*ing heavy that her shoulder would start to hurt and she'd make me carry it for awhile.

Faintly Macabre

@cee I think the fabric Coach bags are about on par with those nylon(?) longchamp bags. Leather Longchamp bags are a little more expensive, I think, and not as popular in the U.S., it seems (they're French), maybe because only that one style of Longchamp bag has become well-known here.

(All of my knowledge of brands comes from growing up in a Coach-heavy area and working consignment, so I might be totally off-base!)


@DrFeelGood To put it nicely--when I worked there and had the discount I still didn't buy anything but vintage ones off eBay. The quality of the leather has gone south over the past few years...


@cee it is difficult for me to disguise my longchamps hatred most days.

Faintly Macabre

@DrFeelGood Same goes with a lot of Dooney and Bourke bags. My sister has a weatherproof one from my grandmother and I got one online from the 1980s. Both are made in the U.S. and basically indestructible. Newer Dooney bags? Not quite as sturdy, generally.


@cee Adding to what everyone else has said, Coach was started sometime after WWII by a guy who was totally into just very plain, durable leather bags with simple hardware. This was pretty much the Coach line until, I guess, the late 90s/00s, when they decided to pursue the trendier market. The vintage bags (like the one pictured) tend to be unlined leather, with no distinctive logos, and just sturdy as hell. The new bags are the ones in the various fabrics and with logos everywhere.


@Faintly Macabre Ugh I am turning into my mom, who's fav. topic of conversation is how everything is manufactured like crap these days.


@hotdog you know how people sometimes apologise for doing a thing that is uncool? i have friends who have done that about owning longchamp bags. "i know, it's a longchamp, i'm terrible, but my mum got it for me and it holds so much, you know?".

this is how i know they are a thing.

(that, and that time i sold vintage handbags on a market stall and had to just nod along during the talking-about-brand-identity bits)

@ everyone else
this is super interesting! thank you all for your explanations

Emma Peel

@cee I have a fake Longchamp because they're $30 on Ebay and I needed something that could hold a bunch of stuff and look vaguely professional rather than cheap (which fake leather or "vegan leather," a description I find TOTALLY HILARIOUS, always does to me). Even I find myself explaining it to people who don't ask. "It's not real! I swear!" Because on the one hand, intellectual property and I feel bad about the fake, but on the other hand, why does ANYONE charge TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS for a nylon bucket with leather handles.

Plus, they were sorority girl uniform at my college and I always feel a little like I'm trying to be cool five years ago. But black nylon + brown handles = goes with everything and goes everywhere. Ebay, guys.


I'm so sick of everyone having Longchamp bags! I know they are so useful and fold up and hold so much. My college BFF has one (actually, two maybe?) and I think it's nice. But I get a little sick of seeing them around.

I have an Orla Kiely (my professor gave it to me as a graduation present) and it's really easy to clean and I get compliments on it almost every single day I carry it! I love it so, so, so much.


@cee Longchamp leather bags are way better. The nylon Le Pliages are ubiquitous.

WHY DOES EVERYONE HAVE COACH BAGS?!? There needs to be a Coachtervention. There are like so many good purses out there at that price point that people won't wonder what outlet you got your bag from. Also, down with all logo fabric forever.


I am just loving the dynamic between the mother and the LW in the white coach purse letter. To be a fly on the wall during their interactions!


Wait, won't the shoe polish just rub off on your clothes? I did this on a black purse and it didn't last that long.

Faintly Macabre

@DrFeelGood That's what I wonder, too. I got a simple Cole Haan black leather bag at a thrift store, and one side is a little faded/worn. I wanted to put shoe polish on it, but I was afraid it'd rub alllllll over my clothes.


@Faintly Macabre Yea, I don't know that it will specifically come off and stain your clothes, but I did it on a black leather purse, and it just didn't last very long.


@DrFeelGood Totally not an expert here, but I did just recently decide to be a Grown Up Lady and treat my shoes right which means polishing them on a regular basis. When you polish leather, you wipe the polish on, let it sit for a bit, and then buffbuffbuff the heck out of it to a) make the leather shiny and b) wipe off any excess that hasn't soaked in. I think so long as you are thorough in your wiping/buffing, and you give the object a day or two before use to make sure it's totally dry, I think it should be fine?
But if you're really worried, maybe try using a leather conditioner or mink oil first. It won't bring back the color but it'll make the leather look nicer/less dried out and that might just do the trick.


@Jinxie My dad made me polish his shoes when I was a kid so I'm good on technique... Ok now my dad sounds like Captain Von Trapp, but I don't know it just hasn't worked as well on purses for me. Maybe its whatever they've treated the leather with just doesn't make it stick.


I just got a beauuuutiful new tano bag, a lovely cherry red. Should I be protecting this from the elements? like a spray for rain, or whatever?
Also, what do people think about "leather conditioners"? I have one from Kate Spade, but it didn't come in a box and doesn't have instructions on the label, and, basically, I have no idea what it is.


@toastandjam I have some that I bought from my cobbler and it seems to work the same way conditioner works on your hair. Adds moisture, softness, etc. I initially got the conditioner to perk up a leather handbag that was starting to look a little dried out and worn and it seemed to work pretty well. As for instructions: shake bottle well, *pour a little on to a soft rag, rub dampened rag onto leather thing (after testing in inconspicous spot, of course), repeat from * until bag is done, then let it dry. Maybe give it a buff with a clean, dry cloth after to bring up the shine.


@Jinxie Thanks so much!! I will try it out tonight!


This is unrelated to Coach products, but because I am A Hippie, living in Hippie-town, I have one of those newfangled glass water bottles. The little flip-top thingummy that goes over the sip-spout (terminology!) and keeps the water in its place was starting to positively reek of ... I don't know, onions, garlic, the funk of a thousand years? I eat smelly foods, is what I'm saying. ANYWAY so I soaked it overnight in a baking soda/vinegar bath, and, good as new! Thank you so much, A Clean Person, this was terribly exciting for me and did not involve even getting my hands particularly wet.


@stonefruit I guess I missed that AACP, so thank you! I can't get my hand down inside my water bottle, and my solution is usually "soak it in bleach" but I figured that would eventually dry out the plastic parts. Or something?

Now, the only leather I own is my hiking boots, so I think I don't belong on this article anymore...


@che oh - I don't think there was a separate AACP for stinky silicone items, I just extrapolated from past columns that baking soda and vinegar were my friends for this task. AND THEY WERE!


@stonefruit Ah. I am newish to the 'pin, so I am just catching up. But I was going to write a letter about "help me clean my nasty water bottles," so thank you!
(Aside: Which glass bottle do you use, and do you like it? I have one from lifefactory with the silicone sleeve and the lid doesn't fit right. And I bought a super cute OneVessel one from the coop but it broke when I sat it down on the counter!)


@che I have the lifefactory one too! I like it so far, the only problem has been my carelessness in making sure the aforementioned flip-top thingummy that goes over the sip-spout is securely fastened because if not, oh look my insurance paperwork in my backpack got all nice and soaked, happy funtimes! I believe lifefactory makes a model with a spoutless lid, which maybe might have worked better w/r/t my level of carelessness.


@stonefruit Maybe I will try to find that lid! I have the spoutless lid, and it just doesn't screw on right most of the time, and then, wet paperwork, etc. But the bottle itself I love - I can drink sweet tea out of it for a whole week and it doesn't stink! (I know, I am revolting.)


@che dag, yo, now I want sweet tea. I only ever use mine for water and on that basis have concluded that it never ever ever needs to be washed.

Get rid of your stonefruit, seriously, she is revolting. In my defense, I'm beginning to rethink that after last night's miracle of the baking soda and vinegar. Is a weekly soak enough, do we think?


@stonefruit I think weekly is enough. If I'm drinking not-water out of mine, I rinse it every day and wash it once a week, ish. We... don't need to talk about how infrequently i wash my water-only bottle.

Valerie Sprague@facebook

Man, I have so many leather Coach bags (the vintage ones, lately from eBay, many of them great deals) and shoe polish is fine, especially on black or the dark saddle brown bags. Coach sells leather conditioner but any kind is fine. I'm not a fan of cloth bags in general, because I'm clumsy and spill stuff.

The best one was a dark brown clutch I got at at thrift store for $1, yo. I shined that sucka right up.


Yessss! I am now inspired to take another go at cleaning my poor leather and suede patchwork Fossil bag (that my dad gave to me as a birthday present several years ago) which got a bunch of mystery booze and cigarette smoke residue all over it because I was dumb enough to leave it sitting out during an epic party in Ireland. I've felt horrifically guilty that I only got about 6 weeks of mileage out of it before it got all icky, and no dry cleaners, even the ones who work with leather, will touch it.

Yay for purse-related AACP! Also, Fossil bags are super cute and really affordable. They are my favorite.




@hijabeng Seriously! I get more compliments on my cute little birdie purses than I ever did when I was hauling around fancy D&Bs I got as gifts.




@l'esprit de l'escalier Dude, I do not even have any idea what they got on it. I think a lot of this happened after I got so drunk on Jamaican black rum that the sous chef had to carry me to bed.


@Anji I really need suede cleaning recommendation for my awesome Lucky patchwork bag that fell victim to a liquid laundry detergent mishap :( Anyone?


@bitzyboozer Sorry to be so late! Got mired in worky type things. I do have a suede cleaning bar (it's sort of got the feel of a soapy pumice, but more fine-grained) that does a pretty decent job. I think. I've been kind of ginger about using it because I fail at most domestic tasks aside from cooking and I have this ridiculous fear that I will make things worse.


@Anji Checking in with the Fossil bag love! They are usually very pockety, which is what I like in a bag, yep. I have five, some of which I bought on eBay and some of which I bought with gift cards. Yay, Fossil bags!

Princess Slayer

Jolie, this is perfect timing! I've recently become obsessed with trolling ebay for vintage Coach bags and I bought a little court bag for $35 and now I know I can make it look like new!


@Princess Slayer What's so funny is that growing up, my mom had the court bag. As a teen I thought it was SO FUG. And of course, now I love it and think it is so classically chic.

dj pomegranate

@DrFeelGood I basically thought all my mom's everything was fug until I turned about 23 and all of a sudden I was like WAIT everything in your entire closet is amazing...?!?!


@dj pomegranate Well, my mom did have this acid washed jean/matching bedazzled top. Scarily, it would probably be in style now.

Faintly Macabre

@dj pomegranate I wish I felt that way about my mom's clothes. I stole about ten of her belts last year, but most of her old clothes are weird sweaters and palazzo pants.


@Faintly Macabre My mom's old clothes are overalls and Cosby sweaters. It's... unfortunate.

Yankee Peach

Seriously you guys,Lestoil is the answer. One of my mom's crazier clients told her to try it on a really subborn stain and we were desperate so we did and OMG, stain begone! Dab a little on a dry or slightly damp paper towel, dishrag or similar and watch the magic happen. Not just on bags, but clothes (expensive and not-so expensive) too.


I was so excited to see this post! I have a Coach bag that my friend bought me that is more expensive than anything else I own and I really want to keep it nice but I am a problem that is a combination of LW1 and LW2 - it's one of the bags you can't use coach cleaning products on (which, wtf) and it is just looking a little dingier as the weeks go by, not a specific stain. Is there anything I can do for this?

Sam I am

@maebyfunke I have the same problem. But my bag is fabric (not satin). Clean Person, please tell me what should I do?


Wait, I should clean my (J. Crew, not Coach) leather bag with soap and water? Clean Person, you are freaking me out.

Faintly Macabre

So while we're talking about cleaning things, I got a really nice vintagey-looking white sundress at TJ Maxx in the winter that was $15 because it'd been kicking around the store a while. But since it had been in the store for a few months, there are some small blackish smudges and general store grime marks on it. I can't wash it, because it's stiff and lined, but I don't want to dry-clean a dress I just bought. (If I had that kind of money, I wouldn't be buying $15 dresses at TJ Maxx!) Does anyone know the best way of spot-treating this stuff? I was thinking of trying Oxiclean, but maybe baking soda or soap is better?


@Faintly Macabre Oxyclean! What is it made of? I have hand washed many articles that say "dry clean"... supposedly there is a difference between "dry clean" and "dry clean only", with "dry clean" it's suggested but not absolutely necessary. I think. Basically I think the only thing you could absolutely ruin by hand--washing is acetate and silk.

Faintly Macabre

@DrFeelGood I just checked, and the shell is cotton/spandex, while the lining is 100% polyester. I wash a lot of supposedly dry-clean only stuff, but usually natural fibers like cotton, linen, wool, and wool/silk blends. (Though I had a wool dress that was supposedly hand washable get temporarily screwed up by washing; I was so annoyed!)


@Faintly Macabre I handwashed - in cold water - a 'For best results, Dry Clean' dress and effing ruined it. Be careful.


@DrFeelGood I get a kick washing supposedly dry clean only clothes. I have a structured-ish wool dress, lined, that I wash IN MY WASHING MACHINE. Granted, I do it in cold water on the "hand wash" cycle and I use this fancy pants wool wash, then I air dry the dress. But still. 4 years later and it's still in great shape, dry cleaning be damned.


@Faintly Macabre I have a pair of Banana Republic work pants that are cotton and spandex that emphantically say "Dry Clean Only" on the tag. I have completely disregarded this and washed them many times, and they still look great. I think clothes say "dry clean only" to either 1. seem more fancy or 2. maintain a certain structure, like that folded line you get down the front of work pants. The liner shouldn't be any problem to wash, so it probably just depends on if you want the dress to stay that stiff.

Faintly Macabre

@rosaline Yeah, I'm more worried about the fabric staying smooth and the lining and outer staying in the correct proportions. I think I might try spot-treating it in Oxiclean and then if it responds all right to that, wash it after I wear it.


I have this gorgeous super thin silk blouse from Banana Republic outlet and I had left it in my laundry basket to put in our "hand wash" pile and forgot about it and my mom who was very kindly doing my laundry ran it through the wash. :( It didn't seem to have been totally ruined but I haven't inspected it since it dried.


What is UP with all these coach bag buyers? I just checked the website, and yes, they are all still hideous (minus the classic/vintage ones) and cost well over $300. Are you all taking fashion cues from my midwestern high school class??? I mean, someone had to say it, right? DISSENTING OPINION.


@hotdog What bugs me is that Coach is clearly riding on the reputation it built in the 20th century (sturdy, simple, long-wearing bags that cost more than the other bags in your average mall department store but will make up for it in longevity) and no longer deserves.


@hotdog Yes! And I can't even imagine spending so much on a bag, even if it was super cute! (I know, these were all gifts / vintage here. No offense, LWs.) I just moved in with wealthy relatives (which tells you something about my financial situation), and my cousin has Coach shit. I was like, "you are a college freshman, why do you need an ugly $200-$300 bag??? $300 could pay my car payment for two months!"

Faintly Macabre

@hotdog I don't know. When I worked in consignment, we had tons of nearly-new ones come in, and even though the prices at the shop were really good, the fabric ones didn't sell all that well. I associate the interlocking-C bags with kids from my high school, too. If I were going to spend that much on a bag, it'd be Cole Haan--one came into the shop that I lusted after for months but absolutely could not afford.


@hotdog I do not understand the Coach thing. I also do not understand the Louis Vitton thing. Of course, I buy my bags at garage sales and thrift stores (with my one exception, super fancy Cynthia Rowley leather work purse- but you'd never know it was a Cynthia Rowley because it doesn't have it emblazoned all over it).

Although now I kinda want a vintage coach, because they are kinda chic.


@hotdog Coach is the brand of the damned, in my opinion. I bet if you're reading this and have one you love, yours is great, but they are so expensive, and I really don't care for the look of the new ones. My friend had a customer service nightmare trying to exchange a particularly unpleasant cloth tote of theirs that she got as a sweet (but misguided) gift.


@frenz.lo I read an article about Reed Krakoff (the designer responsible for the new style of bags) and, in this piece, another designer characterized Coach as "Hermes for housewives." Withering!


@datalass link! I love a good wither.

oh! valencia

@che I have a $300 leather bag (not Coach) and it was a decision that took me at least 3 months to make, because seriously, that's a lot of money! 6 years later I still use it basically every day.
(although I will be using some of these tips to freshen it up a bit! thanks, Jolie!)


@hotdog I don't like them, either. My BFF has a fairly cute one that's small and the Cs are black-on-black and most of it is leather anyway, so it's pretty tasteful, but on the whole I think they're appalling. Like, you want me to pay what for this?

I remember a classmate getting a Coach wallet my senior year of high school and I legit could not understand why she couldn't shut up about it. Seven years later, my opinion remains the same. And I like handbags!


@hotdog I have a Coach bag that looks like this: http://www.etsy.com/listing/96863983/sale-rare-red-coach-bag that I got at a thrift store for fifty cents. It's a nice-enough bag, but it's really not that exciting. It couldn't imagine spending $20 on it, much less $200. Then again, I'm not a handbag person and didn't even realize Coach was a Fancy brand until I read this article.


@camanda : TOTALLY appalling. They're exclusively targeting label whores / collectors of cheap trendy crap now. I have *one* Coach bag, from like eight years ago? When they did the zebra-patterned gallery totes? Because oh god it is zebra, in white patent and kelly green and HOW COULD I NOT?

A related "remember when this brand used to be great?" : Rafe. I have two of their/his early Big Giant Awesome Totes, and love them sooooo much -- embellished, but not too embellished! No gold hardware! Functional designs in fun yet wearable colors! Now everything they have is awkward, wonky, covered with sparkly crap, and $750. Boo. And of course now I go look at their site and I actually found one I like. Uh oh.

Also - fun well-made leather things from a company who doesn't go batshit stamping their logo all over it like we should care? Furla.


@Faintly Macabre I bought myself a Cole-Haan handbag as my gift to myself when I got a new job. I managed to get it for a steep discount (shopping for oneself on "Cyber Monday", kids) - $200 incl shipping instead of $350+shipping, and, well, I absolutely love it without reservations. (But still, $200! Me five years ago is like, what???) No moral to this story, just kinda wanted to talk about my purse is all.


All these stories about Coach's terrible customer service make me sad. Waaaaay back in the day (remember, I'm an Old), you used to be able to take in the nastiest, dirtiest, most broke down and beat up Coach purse back to the store, and they would clean it or repair it FOR FREE (normal wear and tear, broken hardware, etc) or for a very small fee (if it was something outside of normal wear and tear), no matter how old it was. And if they could not fix it, would offer you a new one at a deep discount.

And then they got bought by some big corporation and all the lovely customer service that made owning such an expensive bag worth it all disappeared.

S Hanna

@Bebe I recently had a really good experience with having one of my bags repaired. The hardware had come unscrewed and caused my strap to break, and I took it back to the store where they immediately sent it off for repairs for free. When I got it back the bag had been cleaned, the leather conditioned, and all my hardware polished. So maybe it just depends on who you deal with.


@Bebe In my experience, they still do this in repairs, but their customer service if you call in doesn't tend to be very helpful.


@S Hanna @marz1 This is good to know! The older I get, the nicer the things I can afford get. And the nicer the things I can afford are, the more I expect from the companies that make them. So customer service has become such a big deal to me lately.

Dear lord, I've become my father.

Elle Destree@twitter

Get rid of your Coach bags, seriously, they're revolting


@Elle Destree@twitter: I suppose this is as good a place as any for me to remind Coach bag owners that the little leather tag that says "Coach" IS NOT MEANT TO BE LEFT ATTACHED TO THE BAG! It should be removed like any other not-permanently-attached tag. Ugh, granted I have millions of pet peeves, but this is certainly in the Top 1000.


@ejcsanfran Why? I mean, I don't love coach, but its not on a plastic string,,, its on a metal dog-tag ish string, and is leather. I have an old one that still has it... but I understand pet-peeves, mine is seeing people who have a coat with a kick pleat and they haven't cut off the little strings that hold the pleat together in the store.


@DrFeelGood: In my view it is exactly analogous to the kick-pleat/cross-stitch issue! The Coach tag is part of the packaging/branding/labeling that is meant to be removed once purchased. Though I suppose my view is colored by the fact that I'm much more familiar with old school Coach, i.e. simple, sturdy and well-constructed handbags and leather goods. The leaving-on of the tag was shockingly parvenu - "You mean you need a label in order to identify a Coach bag from 50 paces? Oh dear..." So, I guess really, removing the tag is reverse snobbery - which is my preferred type of snobbery.


@ejcsanfran : That's an interesting take on it. Frankly, I like the little tag, and unlike the cross-stitched kick pleat, it doesn't inhibit functionality.

My tag is staying on.


@DrFeelGood The worst are the people with new winter coats who don't cut the white tag off of the sleeve - I see them all the time and I always want to tell them to cut it off. And it is always the men who leave it on for some reason?

Feminist Killjoy

wait,honest question, why does everyone i know have the bag in the photo? i know three people who have it in black, too. starting to wonder if it's *Actually* *Vintage* (worst phrase i've ever uttered?). not that it really matters but...where has Coach been hiding this huge stockpile of identical vintage purses?


@Rosemary McClure Agreed! I found it in black at some weird junk shop ($10); no way they made THAT many that are just showing up now.


@Rosemary McClure They used to carry a very limited selection of styles, that all looked similar to that one - the fold over top, the little twist-y closure thing, etc., so a lot of their old stuff looks very similar. I was just in Bloomingdale's recently and noticed they are starting to bring some of the old, no-frills styles back - like this one: http://www1.bloomingdales.com/shop/product/coach-classic-city-bag?ID=603777&CategoryID=23757&PageID=21533*1*24*-1*-1*15

Feminist Killjoy

@Bebe Good to know! And I'm glad they're bringing those more classic styles back, whatever gets the garish C print bags out of my sight. But seriously, it's not just similar, they have that EXACT bag...


@Rosemary McClure I have the EXACT one, too. EXACT.


my take home message: apparently everyone under the sun (besides me) owns a coach bag.


@chickaboom I don't own one either! We can hang out here in the corner, making fun of everyone and their stupid fancy handbags.


@Jinxie thirded. I think this post is just pulling all the Coach-owners out of the woodwork (for obvious reasons).


@chickaboom I don't! But I am a Fossil devotee for life. I honestly can't see paying more than $100 for a pocketbook, because I am really hard on them, and even the nicest, sturdiest ones wind up kind of destroyed after a year or two.


@chickaboom My sister saved up and bought herself one and my mom joked about wanting one so often that we colluded to get Mom one for her 60th birthday. All of her other purses come from JC Penney.

meanwhile I have a no-name leather satchel that I adore, because it is PERFECT.


@Jinxie I just dump all my shit in my bike pannier and call it a day. I have an aunt who always used to brag about her Coach bags and it was totally wasted on me and my mother, much to her frustration; we're simple folk who shop at Sears.


I'm not sure if there is a solution to my problem, but if you pinners have any suggestions I'd be really grateful. I purchased a vintage coach bag from the internet, and its great, however, it smells like cigarettes and old lady perfume. I put it in a zip lock bag with an open box of baking soda, but that hasn't seemed to work. Is there anything I can do/get to make this bag smell less like my grandma?


@adminslave Put some old lollipops in tissues in it and throw in a few werthers caramels in there for good measure. Oh wait, sorry, you want it to smell *less* like your grandma.


@adminslave I've lightly sprayed down the inside of thrifted bags with vodka with good results, but ymmv. Other than that, if possible hang it outdoors to air out the stink?

Faintly Macabre

@adminslave Maybe activated charcoal? I've never tried it, but it seems like hardcore stuff.

Marquise de Morville

@mascarasnake Vacuum the inside really well, then air it out?


@Faintly Macabre,@mascarasnake, @Marquise de Morville All good suggestions, thanks!


@adminslave How about that sponge absorbing thingy (super helpful) that Jolie recommends for bad odors?


Ahhh, what great timing! I bought a Fossil bag a while back, made of canvas and leather, that I adore--unfortunately it has become quite a bit dirtier than I wanted and I was JUST about to write in to Jolie! YAY! PROBLEM SOLVED!


A related question - the gold/brass hardware on my Coach bag is beginning to tarnish/oxidize (I suspect it's painted metal, ugh). How can I restore the blingy shinyness?

Flies in my eyes

So this isn't about a Coach purse, but is about taking a huge risk with a soft leather item. I had a beautiful pair of soft leather cowboy boots, got a little tipsy one night and may or may not have thrown up on my shoes after eating a greasy, delicious, wonderful meal with favorite people and lot's and lot's of wine. Well there was first shame, then the realization that NO ONE could help me get the grease stains out of my boots!!!!! The only solution seemed to be to redye them a darker, less attractive color and they still might have the stains after this process. Until one lady told me to use oil, the same oil that stained them, over the entire boot! HOLY CRAP it was scary. STAIN THE ENTIRE BOOT! But it worked. It conditioned the boot, it was slightly darker color for about a month or two, but maintained the same color tone and eventually went back to the same color. Thinking about oiling them up this year again. So lesson is, if you get an oil stain on a soft leather item, you can stain your entire item and it will be ok.


@Mel Wait, help: you wiped them down with fryer grease?

Mrs. Coach McGuirk

Oh Yay! I have been bummed because favorite red cross body is getting really gross on the back thanks to every pair of jeans in the world with the dumb "dye may transfer" warning (What am I supposed to do? Wrap everything light colored in plastic or something?). I will be having a major leather bag cleaning party when I get home today!

Beautiful Ann Perkins

@Mrs. Coach McGuirk I'm currently dealing with this same issue with the tan leather seats in my car. I even tried the AACP method of washing the offending pants with vinegar but the saga continues. WHY?!


Why has no one mentioned saddle soap yet for the leather? WHYYYY?? You guys, saddle soap is the best. It cleans and conditions! Use if for all the leather!


@spoondisaster Oooh! I need to add this to my shoe-care box.


@spoondisaster And if the horse post earlier is anything to go by about one in every three pinners will have some around the house.


@mascarasnake I am a former horse lady! But now I just use it on my cowboy boots because they deserve the best.


@spoondisaster I was a horse person about ten years ago (I miss it!) but I'm pretty sure there's still a bar of it in the cupboards of my parents' house, I'll have to dig some out next time I visit.


I may or may not own five different types of saddle soap, seven types of leather conditioner, two tins of mink oil, shoe polish in every color imaginable, and ten rags in varying textures that I use in a certain order. I also take a toothbrush to the seams on my leather.
When you earn your living as a show groom for the first two years of college, you learn how to GET SHIT DONE.


@spoondisaster THIS!! I have a saddle-soap party and invite all the shoes in my closet to join me and my purse ($8 at Wilson's Leather Outlet and so cute!) on the floor! Saddle soap makes inexpensive leather look lovely, and it becomes supple with a soft shine. I've also used it on my fancy leather car-coat as well as my black biker jacket.(PS reverse the direction your coats are hanging from the closet rod every few months, so the shoulder and arm don't bleach from the light.)


Everyone!!! Nordstrom's. Nordstrom's is your answer! I took a wonderful Coach tote (which I did not purchase at Nordstrom) which had become disgusting-ified by city living over the years and dropped it off at their purse/bag department for cleaning. They have a contracted accessories cleaner they ship bags off to. Total cost to me? $35 and it came back looking BRAND. SPANKING. NEW.

Not to knock the tips of the Clean Lady! They also sound great.


@Argyle omg. thank you for this. I used to work at Nordstrom rack (it was a seriously awesome place to work 12 years ago, let me tell you) and thus I have a deep affection for Nordie's. However, not having worked at the real store, I'm not always aware of all of the amazing services they have. Also they tend to contract with local small business people for alterations, etc., so there's that.


I suspect I've never really liked Coach because the clients I'm constantly in contact with always have expensive hideous coach bags.

My knockoff harajuku bag though is FANTASTIC and has hilarious typo's. It is also related to Mary Poppin's bag and holds everything.


@Jade Working with the public has caused me to form some virulent and specific stereotypes about people with new and unattractive Coach stuff.


K2R is the shiznit when it comes to grease. I regularly get grease on my shirts and then forget and wash and dry them and really set the stain/I also have a habit of putting chapstick through the dryer. K2R will still take that junk off!

fondue with cheddar

Red bag lady: MELTONIAN SHOE CREAM!!! We sold this stuff at the shoe store where I used to work and it is awesome. It's not shoe polish! It's safe on garment leather because it conditions, and it comes in lots of colors. It doesn't cover scuffs though, because it rubs into the leather whereas polish sits on top.

fondue with cheddar

@jen325 Heh, I just got down to the fifth letter where Jolie recommends Meltonian too. I'm a little bit proud of myself now because I'm sort of the antithesis of A Clean Person.


oh yeah, here's another one: I found yet ANOTHER black vintage coach saddle bag at the thrift store ($8, luv u Chicago xox), and while the grandma smell has been dealt with, what say ye to removing the remnants of what can only have been a breast cancer ribbon sticker pasted to the front flap for at LEAST 9 years. Laaaadies?


@hotdog Goo Gone! It's amazing at picking up sticky residue left from tape and stickers. You can get it at places like Lowe's and Home Depot, and maybe even Target or CVS. I would test it in an inconspicuous spot first, to make sure it'll work okay on the leather, but I've never had a problem with it.


Another place to check out for leather repair in NYC is Modern Leather Goods in Koreatown. They got a huge monster stain out of my treasured Foley & Corinna and refinished its color perfectly - and it's a tricky color. There's also that place in Chelsea that the fashion editor/stylist types swear by - does anybody recall the name of that place?

Attractive Nuisance

@hungrybee ArtBag?


Welp, based on Jolie's description of People Who Are Allowed To Own Nice Things, I...shouldn't have nice things. I always knew it!


@fabel You can come sit by me on my hand-me-down futon frame that had three different owners before me.


I have a men's Coach wallet because it's really thin. I spilled Rumple Minze on it. I didn't do anything about it because I was (obviously) drunk. Now I kind of like the smell of minty leather. Regarding LW1's Coach customer service horror story/comments about luxury leather shoes needing re-soled, etc: read "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster" by Dana Thomas. Spoiler alert: Get rid of your Chanel, seriously, it's revolting.

Nancy Sin

I was literally searching AACP today looking for leather advice.

Warning - don't take baby or face wipes to a Fossil colored-leather handbag. My ochre crossbody now has a quarter-sized discoloration in ADDITION to the small and ignorable coffee stain I was trying to remove. I've been told leather conditioner may do the trick, but I'm also going to check out the colored polish options mentioned in here. Any other FOSSIL LOVAHS have advice?


Soooo...what do I do if the dye from my jeans rubbed off on my beautiful cream-colored leather Botkier bag. I am in distress over this!!!


@LoopisLoo Don't be in distress, this happens to everyone. The soap thing Jolie says works, I have successfully removed jeans dye from yellow and grey leather purses with a little bit of dish soap. Just be sure to only use a damp cloth to wipe it off, maybe a few times, don't get it soaked.

Carly Marie@twitter

Bike grease secret: blue Dawn (as in Dawn dish soap)! Not the other colors/flavors, though, for whatever reason. In college, my bestie was a bike mechanic and she always came home covered in grease, and she swore by the stuff. It really does work: on skin, clothes, white walls, cleaning your dirty bike chain, etc. Which I guess is why they use it to save baby birdies in oil spills: http://news.discovery.com/animals/dawn-detergent-oil-spills-animals.html


@Carly Marie@twitter YES! A thousand times yes! This is why I buy blue Dawn exclusively. It even got out chain grease that my local cleaner's couldn't get out. I love Dawn.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

Aah! I am so late to this. Does anyone know how to de-gunge Le Sportsac bags? I've run one through the washer (gentle cycle, in a bag) and tried handwashing, but the white part of the pattern is no longer white :(

It's not any specific dirt anyways, just sort of aged? If that makes sense. Environmental gunge.

yes I have Le Sportsac bags, one is a cat print and it is fabulous stop judging me


@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) No hate, I got one for $30 at C21 bc it was cheaper than the JCP crap. It is an excellent gym bag.

Faintly Macabre

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) I am Le Sportsac's biggest ambassador! (Though half of mine I bought used, so not their best customer. Whatever.) Water-resistant, light, and BRIGHTLY COLORED--what's not to like?

Maybe try old-fashioned bar laundry soap? Or baking soda and sunlight? The white spots on mine have held up all right, but I have a yellow/rainbow one that's dulled and seems to want to stay that way.

Cat named Virtute

Jolie, I love how in addition to knowing/being willing to find out EVERYTHING, you are so sweet and nice when you respond to letters. As A Messy Person who is slowly trying to mend her ways, I love how nice this column is. <3 u!


Coach bags!
Coach bags!

So glad to have this little primer, since The Former Roommate bought a goooorgeous Coach bag (in blue! big enough for novels!) as a thank you gift for coordinating her wedding.

I get really hyper-protective of it when I take it out in public. Like, maybe it needs its own bubble or something protective.

But I love it!

Beautiful Ann Perkins

I wish Jolie had been available for consultation that time 5 years ago when I spilled an entire bottle of water in my first ever genuine leather bag. Somehow it survived but that coveted soft buttery texture did not.


If I didn't LOVE the Hairpin so hard, I would be frightened by the fact that it seems to read my mind. I am wearing that exact mother f'n bag RIGHT NOW! Except it's black. It's dusty and scratched and this morning when my nine yr old was like "That is a Fantastic purse! Could I borrow it one day?" I thought I should get it cleaned*. Jolie, You are magic!!!
*Also, I felt vindicated. I bought that purse with high school graduation money. My friends were like "What the!" and my Mom just did one of those heavy sigh things and said "You'll have it forever". As usual Mama was right. I have had it forever and after I have it cleaned I may give it to my daughter.

Hot Doom

How aboooooouuuut...a lipgloss stain on a light tan/camel colored Coach bag? It happened about 8 months ago, and at the time I was like 'Crap!' don't let it set! and then I let it go, and it set. It seems to have partially reabsorbed into the leather, but there is still a creepy, lipglossy blob stain on it. What to do?

Mark de Silva@facebook

This is the best article headline ever.


Can you please explain the difference between rubbing and blotting to my boyfriend? I spilled red wine on the floor and since I was drunk he helpfully offered to clean it up. He said ti was useless after about five minutes of apparently just pushing it all into the carpet, trying to "soak" it up. It only took me five minutes to blot the shit out of the carpet (using some laundry soap since he made it so bad with his damn rubbing) and it looks perfect. I can't seem to explain doing the blotting thing vs. just "pushing towels into the carpet as hard as you can" thing to him.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

I feel left out because I was fortunate/spoiled enough to get two purses for my birthday this week, both from pretty good brands, but neither of them is Coach, so now I'll never know what to do if I have a purse disaster?


In light of the recent horse themed post, I would also like to add, if you are in rural rural areas and don't have a cobbler in town, I bet you can find someone who has/does clean(ed) tack for a living. When you clean 10-30 saddles/bridles/boots every day, you get damn good with leather.
So ask at any barns that cater to more than one family. They'll hook you up.


@The Kendragon
(My house is a mess. My saddle is SPOTLESS. A type-A German lady taught me to ride.)


Anyone know what the style of the bag in the picture is called?


@sprayfaint It' called the Station Bag.

tea tray in the sky.

@catspajamas Here's one!


Ginger Snap@facebook

So, this isn't really along the lines of what usually is talked about here, nor is it related to this post... but I feel like this is probably the best place to find insight on this question. OXICLEAN: hehe, so I'm moving in a week, about to invest in my first tub of the stuff(the thought of sharing my larger bed with horrid period stains is a bit overwhelming to me :s), I was planning on getting the free and clear, as I am easily irritated by scents and what not, but I'm also pregnant with my first child, due in July, I'm thinking, "maybe ill just get a tub of oxiclean baby" and use it for everything, right? I think I'm mostly just curious but wouldn't they really just the same? the free and the baby? They're both advertised as being "free of perfumes and dyes"..the baby does say "specially formulated to work on "baby" stains", but I'm not really biting... just wondering what you guys think! Thank you!


@Ginger Snap@facebook I used perfume- and dye-free detergents for everything once my daughter was born, never bought any of the baby stuff, and never had a problem. I used regular old Oxyclean spray to pretreat poo (and, later, food) stains. Everything got clean, and she never had any kind of allergic reaction.

Ginger Snap@facebook

@Ginger Snap@facebook awesome, thanks!!


One website to rule them all: manhattan wardrobe supply! Shoe polish


grrr posting problems! Anyhoo, manhattan wardrobe supply is the answer to so many problems you didn't know you had or if you had them didn't know they could be fixed. Shoe polish is a temp fix, leather dye is for keeps. They sell every color of leather dye on this site including metallics, which I consider to be natures sparkly neutrals. In addition they sell all manner of stain removers for items not meant to be laundered. There I said it: wardrobesupply.com = magic for the messy.


I have never seen a Coach bag before and never heard of them before today! I am very surprised because around here it seems like the bag du jour is Paul's Boutique and nobody has mentioned it.
This is totes okay because I love having useless shit hanging off my bag and jingling, although I am worried because pleather + London + tube = how i clean bag?! I'm fine with shining up leather, but fake leather is a whole different kettle of fish.

Feminist Killjoy

@Karinna Deller@facebook You'd be right about that except that we're talking about the US I guess. No one wears Coach in London because...people know better? And no one wears Paul's Boutique in the US because you can only get it online

Catherine Tobia@facebook

Ok. old Coach lady here, coming at you from Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine. I have a whole closet devoted to Vintage Coach. Does anybody remember good old saddle soap? Been using it for years and my Coach bags are in mint condition. Really! I use a slightly damp cloth, with a small amount of saddle soap, then I blot. After that I apply a very then layer of "Coach Leather Moisturizer in a circular motion. Then place it in it's dust cover bag(you can never have enough dust covers. My bags are soft, supple and evenly colored. And very sought after, but they get em when they pry them out of my cold dead hands. =)


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