STYLE Savvy: Form, Function, Style and Portability


Last week, I wrote about all of my bags, and the little details that make them my bags of choice. Today, I’d like to step back and take a look at three key container concepts as they pertain to travel by STYLE.

  • Form was at the heart of last week’s post. The size (“bigger isn’t always better”), physical attributes (“to pocket or not to pocket”) and shape of a container or bag often factor into our choices. How much storage is available — both during our journey and once we arrive –will also guide the form we select. If we need to make sure our carry-on fits under a seat or into an overhead compartment, we’re limited to containers that fit those parameters. If we’re bringing food or medications along, we may need thermal containers, while fragile items may require padded containers or, in their absence, space among clothes in a suitcase or duffel bag to provide the necessary cushioning. Form may not always be the attribute that seals the deal for our container choice, but it definitely needs to be considered.
  • When it comes to function, there’s not a huge difference from one bag to the next; all bags provide temporary storage for our items from our homes to our destinations and back again. Nuances in form play a role in function, too; things like padding, insulation and protection from weather contribute to the function of the container. So does what we’re going to do with our stuff when we arrive. Which suitcase or duffel we choose doesn’t matter if we’re going to unpack our clothes upon arrival and set the container (suitcase) aside until it’s time to go home. But, if we’re going to live out of the bag, its function upon arrival matters just as much as its function during our journey. If we’re not unpacking, a suitcase that can be fully unzipped to reveal its contents may trump a duffel with deep pockets, especially for those with an I need to see it style.

Most of my favorite bags have both handles and a shoulder strap.

It’s also important to think about how the bag will function as you carry (or wheel) it from one location to the next (“strappy situation”). And, keep in mind that getting creative with function isallowed — the manufacturer’s intention is merely a suggestion. I love my make-up bag-turned-electronics case, and I often use a thermal pouch for things that aren’t temperature sensitive but need a little extra padding. The bag should work in your service, not vice versa.

Speaking of style, the aesthetics of the bag may matter, too. Some of us are as unhappy traveling with mismatched luggage as we are carrying a bag that doesn’t match our shoes/outfit. That ratty old bag that’s been everywhere with us may not make the cut if we’re heading to a wedding at a swanky hotel. On the other hand, for many of us, the color, texture, pattern and attractiveness matter less than the form and function. After all, we’re just using the bag temporarily, right?

As with any other container, there are no hard and fast rules for bag selection. Form, function and style overlap, and which of the three is most important depends on the event, the destination, the mode of transportation and, of course your personal and organizational styles.

Next Wednesday, I’ll talk more specifically matching bags to the styles. In the meantime, what do you love about your go-to travel bag? Leave me a comment and let me know.
Copyright 2016 Lisa Hess

About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and is a blogger at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.