Faux Pas: Sartorial Crash Test Dummy

May 19, 2011

In 1997, Dana and Melanie Harvey were installing seatbelts in a vintage Buick, when they got an idea.  An awful idea.  The Harvey’s got a wonderful (?), awful idea.  Let’s turn these seatbelts into a purse!

And just like that, a faux pas was born.

I hadn’t seen a seatbelt bag in quite some time, and then I saw three last week. (Apparently, they’re a summer thing.) And each time I saw one, I was reminded how truly awful these bags truly are. 

Imagine a woman in a tailored, grey business suit and four inch heels carrying a seatbelt bag, in NY Yankee print no less, into the U.S. Capitol.  It’s the ultimate sartorial non-sequitur.  Professional meets industrial/automobile/sporting event chic. 

The Harvey’s website boasts a terrifying (and yet, mildly impressive) array of products.  From handbags to clutches, from headbands to guitar straps, the Harvey’s have you covered.  They even have a bridal collection.  Yes, a bridal collection. 

And if your beloved seat belt bag starts to look a little weary and worn, don’t replace it! Spend $20 to have it refurbished in the Bag Spa.  Because God forbid that you just let the poor thing go off to its great reward at that Big Chop Shop in the Sky. 

Though I have no idea how a “guaranteed tough” bag made out of industrial grade seat belt material gets worn out in the first place.  (Maybe the owner uses it to tote ammo on the battlefield?)

Unlike most faux pas posts, this one was a bit tough to write.  The Harvey’s have a blog, a SeatbeltBLOG, and they seem so adorable.  Plus, they make their bags in America.  Yet, despite their sweetness and patriotism, I feel that these people need to be stopped because even when their products aren’t atrocious, they’re massively overpriced.

The Harvey’s make an ombre-striped diaper bag that’s actually not bad.  And if there was ever a product that needed to be made out of durable, washable seat belt material, it’s a diaper bag. Sadly, it’s $248, and I’m not sure that it’s okay to spend that kind of coin on a receptacle for poo-covered nappys.

To sum up, if you own a seatbelt purse, it’s time to toss it into the recycling bin.  They’re not professional.  They’re not stylish.  They should not be worn to work, to a nice restaurant, or to your wedding.

This trend was born and died in the late 90s, but maybe some ladies didn’t get the memo. It’s time for the seatbelt bag to go the way of N’SYNC, Furbies, and rollerblading, and slip softly into that good night. 

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  1. AW says:

    Oh, man, I often agree with you, but not on this one. I LOVE my Harvey's bag in grey and black. I get tons of compliments on it, and I think it's a very versatile, casual bag. That said, it's definitely not the bag I choose for formal occasions. But I wouldn't go so far as to compare it to the insidious Vera.

  2. Belle says:

    I consider cotton, canvas, and raffia lightening up. Seatbelt material in a handbag is just silly.

  3. AW says:

    Oh, man, I often agree with you, but not on this one. I LOVE my Harvey's bag in grey and black. I get tons of compliments on it, and I think it's a very versatile, casual bag. That said, it's definitely not the bag I choose for formal occasions. But I wouldn't go so far as to compare it to the insidious Vera.

  4. Belle says:

    I consider cotton, canvas, and raffia lightening up. Seatbelt material in a handbag is just silly.

  5. CynthiaW says:

    Lol – I've never seen one of these in person, so I can only imagine what the material looks like up close, but I have to say that the picture you posted is kind of cute.

  6. j says:

    I'm pretty sure that the purses made out of zippers are even worse than this. Some of my friend's studied abroad in Europe several years back and brought zipper purses back in multiple colors because I guess that's what tourists were buying at the time. It was horrendous.

  7. CynthiaW says:

    Okay – I went to the blog and they had pics of customers carrying them – hideous. I guess that just proves that professional photographers can make anything look good.

  8. dm58 says:

    I don't know what's worse — that the company makes bridal bags, or THAT ONE OF THE BAGS IS SOLD OUT!!!!!
    ouch.

  9. cginnyc says:

    Sarcastic Belle is back! I love it whenever Belle finds a new product to make fun of… after crocs and Vera Bradley bags, I was hankering for a new faux pas and the seatbelt bag is the perfect one. Now I can make freely make scowling faces at anyone I see with a seatbelt bag.

  10. Downtown Brown says:

    Even worse than seat belts? Truck Tarps! They are HUGE in Switzerland, but how gross is that!? I work in transportation (though I'm not a truck driver) and truck tarps are not sexy. And I certainly wouldn't pay almost $300 for one! Gross!
    https://www.freitag.ch/shop/FREITAG/shop.jsf

  11. Alison B. says:

    Preach it sister! One of my best friends carries one of these and I've been trying to figure out how to tell her…maybe I'll just mention this blog now? haha!

  12. VA says:

    Confession – I think the Freitag tarp bags are really cool and graphic, though seriously overpriced. I'm a sucker for anything typography.

  13. amy b.s. says:

    there are bags made of seatbelts? up until now, i've managed to avoid this fact. and i admit i am not happy that i now know that there are even more ugly bags wandering the streets. and i guarantee i will now see like 10 of them. the horror!

  14. AW says:

    Oh, man, I often agree with you, but not on this one. I LOVE my Harvey's bag in grey and black. I get tons of compliments on it, and I think it's a very versatile, casual bag. That said, it's definitely not the bag I choose for formal occasions. But I wouldn't go so far as to compare it to the insidious Vera.

  15. gingerr says:

    I like the gray/black one. I see them on sale in Rehoboth. They're casual.
    It's dull to always be dragging some huge leather bag around all the time.

    Summer is a good time to lighten up!

  16. Belle says:

    I consider cotton, canvas, and raffia lightening up. Seatbelt material in a handbag is just silly.

  17. Valerie says:

    I'll admit to owning one of these. I actually use it as a beach bag or for picnics. Hopefully that makes it less of a faux pas?

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