Be a bag lady

Six of the best tote bags
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Indy Lifestyle Online

uJanet Fitch, pounds 29 Jolly little faux-grass number with plaited plastic handles. It will not fit much more than a purse, a thong bikini and a tube of sun block, but its main purpose is to spread the message that you are a fun, summer-loving type of gal. Not one for arachnophobes due to the stuck-on rubber spider. Also comes as a backpack. From Janet Fitch, 88 King's Road, London SW3 (07-352 440) and 25a Old Compton Street, London W (07-287 3789)

uThe Pier, pounds 4.95 Jolly yellow strap bag with multi-coloured handles and red cotton lining. Although very cheap, it is sturdy enough and looks as though it would last a couple of summers before unravelling. Ideal for the beach or for filling with picnic food. The Pier sells a wide range of straw bags, including ones with a colourful Aztec pattern or plain with leather handles. Available from The Pier, 9 King's Road, London SW3 (07-35 7600) and branches in Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Bromley and Cardiff

uThe Holding Company, pounds 4.95 This raspberry mesh bag is good-looking but also functional: it is stronger than it appears and the straps are long enough to wear it over your shoulder. Its main drawback is that, being see-through, your shopping or beach gear has to be as stylish: no grubby tissues. Comes in other delicious colours such as lime-green and tomato. From The Holding Company, 243-245 King's Road, London SW3 (07- 352 600)

uBrats, pounds 7.99 Woven plastic, and quite irresistible for the summer. It is also very Fifties and therefore trendy, but will be just as much fun next year and the one after. It is possibly a bit bulky to use for ordinary shopping; however, there is a smaller version for pounds 4.99, also in purple. From Brats, 28 King's Road, London SW3 (07-35 7674) and 64 Fulham Road, London SW6 (07-773 695)

uLongchamps, pounds 45 And now for something more classy. This bag is made in France and looks it. The trimmings are real leather, adorned by the chic logo of a galloping racehorse. It is also user-friendly; the woven fabric is waterproof, there is a handy purse pocket inside, and it folds into handbag-size. But it is not cheap. Also comes as a backpack (pounds 49) or holdall (pounds 29). From Peter Jones, Sloane Square, London SW3 (07-730 34334) and branches of John Lewis nationwide

uEmma Bernhardt, pounds 2.50 A woven plastic bag for those who find the Brats version a bit vulgar. The geometric pattern and restrained black and white are definitely more stylish. It is also lighter and a more convenient size for the high street. Has proved a bestseller this summer. Also in red and white. From Peepul Tree Trading, 29 New King's Road, London SW6 (07-736 932; also mail order)

Photos by Nicholas Turpin