Your normal fun from The Vivienne Files will return tomorrow, but today I have a question about crossbody bags.
I have a bag from Tumi – a wonderful bag – which is an earlier version of the beauty pictured above. It holds everything a human being could possibly need for a day in any city in the world. It fits flat against my body, and isn’t at all bulky or obtrusive.
But every time I wear it, my clothes develop little pills and snags along the diagonal across my front and back, where the strap rubs.
Does anybody else experience this? What should I do differently?
In the grand scheme of life, this isn’t a big deal, but I really don’t like to feel like my handbag is destroying my clothes…
Yes. I do experience the snags and pills. My blazers all show the hazardous results of purse strap abrasion. The only way out that I can see is not to carry a bag over the shoulder. It doesn't seem to matter what material the strap is either. Even smooth leather sooner or later leaves a small damage, some more, some less.
I find it’s worse with bamboo clothing. Actually more of my newer clothing doesn’t last but my older clothes do. It’s so depressing when a new dress looks worn out after the first outing. Very depressing.
Martha K says
I also have this problem. It helps if there isn't much weight in the bag. But then, that defeats the purpose of having a bag! I just don't have a crossbody anymore for this very reason.
Maria carey says
What can I do to stop chain on shoulder bag pulling at alace dress or any type of material the trouble is i have to use two crutches to walk with so bag has to go over myshoulder and my outfit is for my sons wedding any suggestions what I can put on chain some one said clear nail polish but don’t want to ruin bag as it took me an age to find a match for my outfit thank you any help if any
Have someone sew a fabric sleeve for the strap that could be fastened with Velcro?
I’m going to bump this question to the June 30 2021 post to see if anyone can help…
I don't wear crossbody bags for this reason. Also, I found that they wrinkle clothing, and I don't like arriving at my destination wrinkled. If the strap is adjustable, you might turn this into a shoulder bag. I haven't noticed this problem with shoulder bags.
I would have thought it is the fiction in the movement when you are walking a bit like when your garment pills on the arms. As for a solution Im sorry I cant help. Manmade fibres are prone to pilling, but if you wore natural fibres they would probably wear thin over time.
My brief encounter with cross-body bags are similar. One of the biggest irks I encountered was specific to finding a way to wear the strap over an ample breast. Sliding here and there slipping and smashing, not a good look no matter how pricy the bag! In addition I always ended up with a dent/pleat/wrinkle right under the right girl. Two wearings and done. Expensive lesson.
Oh, I just read an article about why knits pill. Essentially, when fibers are spun into yarn, they can be spun tightly or loosely. The looser the spin, the more short fibers are free to have their little ends poking out, and that's what makes a fabric feel "soft." Those same short fibers are also prone to pill. Louise, it's just as much a problem with natural fibers as man-made – the difference is the fiber length. Long-fiber fabrics such as linen and non-tussah silk and some wools are less likely to pill than short-fiber fabrics, and the way the yarn was spun also has an effect. The article suggested that you wear what you love and invest in a sweater shaver.
However, that's for overall pilling, not specific pilling. I think what's happening is that the strap is abrading those little fibers, and if you keep shaving them, you're going to end up with a diagonal line across your clothing that is a different texture than the rest of your clothes. Perhaps wear the purse over a rugged outer layer (I imagine a canvas field coat would take quite a bit of abuse), or abandon the bag for a different model.
Myself, I haven't done cross-body since my boobs developed – it's not a flattering look!
I've never cared for cross body bags and don't have one. This post insures I never will! Abrasion will do that to your clothing!
Pam @ over50feeling40 says
I have been considering the purchase of a cross body bag for events to keep hands free…I think you and the others have talked me out of it! Thanks for the info.
I wear a crossbody bag every day, and have not experienced this problem. I am wondering what your bag's strap is made of? Perhaps it could be switched out for a silky strap of some sort. If you can't find something at the luggage store, you might approach your tailor about making something. Worth a try for a bag you love?
Mine is leather and I wear natural fibers almost exclusively… as I say, no problems.
i haven't noticed the pilling, but i swear by my crossbody bags. it is best for my back and there is so much to be said for being hands free (plus i have sloped shoulders- so shoulder bags never stay on). i think if they pilled my clothes, i would still wear them. every time i carry another style purse, i spend the day fussing with it uncomfortably.
Leather straps (or faux leather) do not encourage pills and snags. Perhaps the Tumi manufacturer and others will be made aware of this problem and come up with a light weight solution!
Perhaps you could consider taking your purse to your sewing group and see if they can recommend a way to slip a cover onto the strap, maybe using Velcro as the closing (to be on the outside surface of the strap), that is made of smooth clear plastic or something like that. A temporary covering of the strap might at least be protective of your clothing when you make a trek in an airport, for example, or doing a long shopping or sightseeing walk.
Sharon C. says
If the pilling is occurring along the edges of the strap, you could try taking an emery board and lightly sanding the edges of the strap.
I have the same problem with shoulder bags as well, not the strap but where the bag itselt hits my hip, my clothes get pilled and worn.
I use cross body bags a lot and occasionally have had the problem of pilling. However, I find that leather straps are best.
Deb from Vancouver
small town gal says
I have a sporty crossbody bag with a strap similar to a seat belt webbing. It doesn't seem to cause any pilling. Also, I have a dressier crossbody leather bag with a leather strap that is like a round tube and it isn't a problem. I wonder if you could find a shoe shop that would be able to sew a new strap made of webbing or a tubular leather one onto your bag. Just a thought.
Janice, I use crossbody bags exclusively and I've never had this problem. Mine is a Brighton with a leather strap. Like Beffyann I find it best for my back and I can't stand fussing with shoulder bags slipping off.
I have used a crossbody bag for years and have never had this problem. My bags have either been leather or Baggallini brand. I wonder if there is something to the theory of it being leather or a nylon webbing type material like Baggallini uses.
I wear natural fibres and crossbody bags with leather straps and have never had this problem.
Deborah Montgomery says
I don't use cross body bags b/c the bag hits at the widest part of my body, and I think it's an unflattering look. However, I am considering one for an upcoming trip when I want to sightsee hands-free.
Maybe I'll consider getting one with a leather strap and wearing natural fibers, as this seems to be the consensus here. Great info. Thanks Janice.
I've never had a problem with this, but my cross body bag is leather. I went online and found this resource. I've never ordered from them personally, but they have a nice selection. http://www.mautto.com
I LOVE my cross-body bags, especially for traveling. I can hold one hand over the bag for extra security and not worry about anyone trying to snatch it from my shoulder or pick-pocket me (which *almost* happened in Paris). I've never had a problem with pilling but perhaps an experiment in using different types of strap material is in order to see if the problem is across all types of straps or only caused by certain materials?
BTW, I just found your site from a link posted in a travel discussion board and I LOVE your blog. My mind was blown (am I giving away my age with that expression??) from all the beautiful wardrobe color-ways. I am hooked! Thank you for all the beauty and practicality.
There are two things you can do:
1. Remove the pills by using a Gleener (http://shop.gleener.com), which may look a little pricey, but comes with three heads for various fabrics and is way better than those "shavers":
2. Wear your crossbody only with jackets and coats that do not pill when you subject them to friction, such as microfiber, tight-weave gabardine, etc.
If the strapping is made of "hard" nylon, could it be changed? Sometimes the edges of heavy nylon strapping are rough like an emery board.
I wear crossbody bags but they do inevitably bisect your boobs visually. In winter, in a substantial coat I can tolerate that but in summer I carry bag in my hand or over one shoulder. Have not had a bag strap do that, but a backpack abraded cashmere and fine cotton knit. Any repeated rubbing is going to abrade, and therefore pill, fine fabrics.
Agreed. Natural Fibers do pill. Even highest quality will pill with soft leather or nylon straps. This is the nature of abrasion. Shoulder straps will wear jacket shoulders unevenly too.
I don't have an answer sorry, but I do have a question. How do you wear a cross body bag? I want to get one , but with large breasts I am unsure of the most flattering, practical and healthy way to wear it.
No problem here, either, with my Baggalini. Strap is very silky. Don't have huge boobs but found that adjusting the length helps the look a lot (longer=slimmer). I love the handsfree and also not having it slip off my shoulder constantly when wearing a parka or raincoat.
I haven't experienced pilling while wearing a cross-body bag but I don't always like the look. I try to wear a smaller bag under my clothes. Would that work for you?
Vera Bradley cross body bags are colorful options.
:-) I have a TUMI bag that I wear cross body most of the time. I haven't experienced it so far, but wouldn't be surprised if it happened. But it's still better that carrying a heavy HAND-bag :-)
I have the same problem with my seat belt! I'm not willing to give that up, but it's so frustrating to have clothes ruined that way!
Wow – haven't noticed it but it is a new thing for me to worry about. Usually, I hold onto and support the bottom of my bag when out and about which might ease the tension on the clothing.
Just a thought. You could try putting Teflon tape on the part of the strap that rubs against your clothes. I think you can find Teflon tape at building supply stores, maybe in the plumbing section.
Lacrimae rerum says
Now there's an idea. I really like the convenience/security of my cross-body bag when traveling (the only time I use a cross-body bag), but it does abrade. I was thinking about trying to find some low-friction material that could be used on the rub-by spots – hadn't thought of teflon tape!
I think it would be sill to jerryrig a bag's strap to prevent this. Don't carry a cross body bag! If you think a handbag is too heavy, lighten the load. I'm 63 and have not found a handbag to be too heavy. If I do, I'll use a fabric bag (I gave my 92 year old mother a lovely EF fabric bag) and go with that.
I avoid anything but leather straps. I have one lovely fossil bag on which the strap is leather on top, but lined with nylon webbing. Grrrr. One more reason to let go of that bag.
For anyone with a full chest, the cross body bag is a problem. They also can accentuate full hips. Honestly, l don't know who they look good on. They are undoubtedly convenient, especially for travel, but that's about it.
This is possibly one of the most fascinating posts on TVF (and I've been reading for years). Who knew crossbody bags would generate so many strong opinions!
What a lovely bag. I love cross body bags for many of the same reasons you mentioned! Especially when traveling! I have found it all depends on the strap. I have a Dooney & Bourke Disney cross body bag that does the same thing. It is disappointing and frustrating because of the cost of the bag. The strap is a little rough because of the stitching which is causing the issues with my clothes. I have another cross body bag (Thirty-One) that I love! It does not cause any issues with my clothes. The strap is smooth. Laura
I am also thinking about switching from a crossbody bag. Maybe the guys have it right? A clutch like this:
And a briefcase or tote bag for carrying anything else is what I'm going to try.
It's the nylon material it's made of which rubs your clothes. The nylon is quite hard and the surface is actually quite coarse which is what causes the rubbing. I think the same bag in leather would be fine, although heavier.
Ardyth Eisenberg says
I use a Longchamp Roseau backpack purse. There's an unfinished edge on one side that causes pilling over time. The straps are finished on all sides, and aren't a problem. At least the pilling is on my back and I can pretend it isn't there!
I only wear shoulder or cross body bags over smooth jersey knits or woven fabric tops/dresses. With anything looser knit or open weave I use a handbag or wristlet-such as whenever I wear a sweater as my outer layer. I also look for smooth, thin leather straps with sealed edges for all of the handbags I consider as these are easy on the skin as well as my clothes.
I gave my husband a Tumi wallet to replace a leather one so worn he had it held together with duct tape. My brother had told me his Tumi bags held up well to his heavy travel schedule. The wallet wore holes in husband's pant pockets. He carefully removed the small plastic Tumi logo and all was well.
A late comment from Peru. My experience with a small nylon crossbody bag supports those of commenters who say nylon doesn't cause damage to clothing. The straps are made of webbing material, and they're smooth enough that there's no pilling on my clothes, though I've spent the last month walking 5 to 10 miles a day with the bag and otherwise using it constantly. That said, I don't particularly like the crossbody design, as the bag either bangs against my hip or stomach, depending on where it is when I stop fussing with it. I miss my smallish trapezoid-shaped Coach bag, which fits perfectly under my arm. It's leather and was too heavy for travel — though it doesn't cause pilling in my clothes, either. The nylon bag was a good travel decision, utilitarian as I'm here for work, food and visiting.
You know your photographer friend always wears her bag cross body. I can honestly say I haven't noticed clothing damage from the strap. I have had damage where the bag hits my hip. I can't wear a bag on my shoulder so I'm stuck with wearing a cross body bag. I have played around with the strap, trying to shift the bag around so it doesn't hit the same spot all the time. That might help. I would think back packs and waist packs would also damage clothes, which I use when I am shooting. Guess I am going to have to learn to be more attentive to my clothes. The things I am learning from you! :)
Jennifer Connolly says
I only wear a crossbody on casual outfits with sturdy fabrics. Perhaps the shoe man could line the strap with a felt to soften the rubbing!
Rinna Pitsiunelma says
Nylon in the strap is so strong and hard that it will abrade almost any knit, no matter the material. So perhaps it would be best to switch the strap to a leather one?
Alison Gunn says
I almost always wear a scarf, and I use the scarf to protect my clothing against abrasion from the crossbody strap. So far, this has been the simplest solution. I like crossbody bags, and I don't want to let them ruin my clothes!
I also have the same problem with seat belts & so use a scarf on long car journeys. A scarf for my bag also helps the boob problem. The issue is which is more precious – my scarf or my top? I won't use my "good" scarves for this. I have been reading forwards through the archives for a few months & am another fan! And I think my dressing has improved. Kylie from Australia.
I just found this after searching for why my baggallini crossbody is ruining my clothes! My normal purse is a Fossil crossbody with a leather strap and no problems at all. I bought a baggallini for travel and it trashed my cotton hoodie just on the flight over. It got my shirt, too. I ended up buying a cheapo on vacation with a plastic strap and it was just fine. So sad! Guess I'm not alone though!