NFL security: Use small purses, transparent bags

Gucci. Prada. Chanel. Ziploc.

The latter may be the style of choice for stadium totes when it comes to the National Football League, but some women would rather cut the designer labels out of their clothing than accessorize with a gallon-size freezer bag.

The first pre-season Saints game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last Friday was a trial run for the new NFL security rules on the types of bags — clear totes no bigger than 12-by-6-by-12 inches and clutches no bigger than 4.5-by-6.5 inches — allowed inside.

Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand and with or without a handle or strap, can be taken into the stadium with one of the clear plastic bags.

Pretty clear, right? Not necessarily.

At last week’s Saints game, one fan thought that if she put her handbag inside the NFL regulation clear bag, it would meet regulations. She was denied entry, had to walk back to her car, leave the handbag and re-enter with whatever contents from her purse she could put inside the vinyl tote. Another woman was told the clutch she brought was too big. She showed the security screener that it was the size of her hand (while confessing that her hands were bigger than average). She was turned away. But she got in another line, and that screener let her through. A woman with a Michael Kors clutch (within NFL size limitations) breezed through with no security glitches.

Regulations and fashion are a strange duo.

When the NFL announced in June the new transparent-bag rule for NFL games, Vogue Daily seized the new security measure as fodder for a see-through bag trend.

The fashion website featured such reasonable facsimiles as a clear Valentino bag trimmed in gold studs with a gold chain shoulder strap for $1,680 and Marc Jacobs’ clear PVC tote with a lace inlay for $227. But transparency isn’t everyone’s bag.

“Don’t they say a woman’s handbag is sacred?” asked Beth Branley, a season-ticket holder who wasn’t too happy that the handbag she purchased during the summer for football season was now contraband. But Branley understands the sacrifices necessary for moving the security lines more efficiently when 70,000 fans are clamoring to get into the dome.

“I just don’t like the idea of the contents of my handbag being exposed,” said Branley, who is ditching the vinyl tote altogether and bringing only the approved clutch. She found a bag with a shoulder strap in a sales bin at Macy’s.

“The sales associate pulled up the NFL website on her computer and then we measured the bag to make sure it complied with regulations,” said Branley.

As soon as the new regulations were announced in June, Ann Ewin went online to find a regulation clear bag. The Saints season-ticket holder didn’t think twice about changing her handbag for a vinyl tote with handles. “After (the terrorist attack in) Boston, no one is going to complain,” said Ewin.

“It will be interesting to see the fashion statements that turn up,” she said. “New Orleans is a fashionable and artsy town. People here will do things with those see-through bags that people in other franchises won’t be able to figure out.”

Some create; others shop.

“Once the regulations were announced, we had customers looking for small clutches in Saints colors, with true gold being the chosen color,” said Steven Putt of Saks Fifth Avenue.

The color gold, as opposed to metallic gold, seems to have the edge — like the Louis Vuitton clutch in citron (just another fashion word for gold).

Just about every designer offers a hand-size clutch, from Tory Burch’s smartphone wallet wristlet ($155) to Kate Spade’s wristlet wallet ($148) to Michael Kors’ multifunction iPhone case ($88) to Rebecca Minkoff’s zip pouch ($65).

And then, of course, there’s the unchallenged plastic freezer bag. You can buy a box of 15 for less than $4.