For most women, leaving home without the handbag that fits all the essentials to go through the day (or night) is something inconceivable. Besides being a functional accessory, our bag is also a fanciable one that certainly has the power to make or break an outfit, although many women do tend to wear an armpiece based mainly for its convenience than appeal. But, for those that don’t settle with boring things, sacrificing looks for practicality, there IS a way to combine both and find the perfect handbag to match your lifestyle and needs. We asked people deep into the fashion industry for some of their expertise, and here is what they have shared with us!
1. Look for a Bag that’s Adaptable
Although it would be really nice to be able to swap our purses and handbags per different occasion, the truth is that most of us don’t have that privilege. In this case, experts suggest we invest in a versatile handbag that can accompany us in several different instances and functions, such as a multi-pocket travel side handbag. The secret is to find a bag that can be wearable for many years.
Also watch out for the colour of the bag. If you are just starting to build your handbag-essentials list, start with a piece in classic colours, such as black, brown or neutral shades (i.e. cream), or even metallics, which usually go with just about everything in a woman’s wardrobe. White can also play well with your outfits as opposed to trendy shades that are in fashion for a couple of seasons (at the very most) and quickly go out of fashion like shooting stars, leaving you with an armpiece that you will probably never wear again.
What if you are Head Over Heels with Coloured Bags?
It is very hard to resist a bold shade of cobalt blue or red, and there is definitely something really interesting in burnt orange hues that inject outfits with an appealing, extra pop of colour. And, why should you resist temptation? Sure, neutrals are the safest bet ever, but you can choose colour and enjoy it! Just be careful not to overdo it and use a particular shade too much (for instance, wear the exact same shade outfit). For the most stylish appearances with a coloured bag, try matching it with anything BUT your coat. That way, the similar shades won’t clash when you get dressed.
Coloured handbags are definitely not off limits. Try pairing a red satchel or medallion sidebag with a plain t-shirt and your fav pair of jeans, and you will instantly transform a casual look into something much more elegant and put together!
2. Look for Something Proportional
We all know that balance is key in everything we do, from choosing the perfect white shade for our wedding dress to carrying a handbag that looks neither oddly big nor too small on us. So, the size of the handbag you will wear should be relative to your size. For example, if you are tall and curvaceous, find a purse that doesn’t get lost when you wear it. And, vice versa, if you are petite, stay away from bags that swallow you. Now, you may say “What about the special occasions when we need to wear a clutch or a wristlet that are both small sized?”. There are pieces for formal attire that come in different sizes too, so you won’t have a problem picking something that flatters you.
Speaking of special occasions, if you still feel unsure about which type of bag to opt for so that you won’t have to switch it out for each occasion, below is a list of the 4 basic styles of handbags and purses that you can consider to get you through your busy schedules (from work to a wedding) and look oh-so-stylish while staying comfortable and practical at the same time.
Tip: When you go shopping for handbags, always check yourself out in the mirror while wearing the bag to see how it looks on you (you may also check out How to Choose the Best Handbag for your Body Type).
Handbags to Get you Through EVERY Occasion
1. A Tote Handbag for Work
Instead of the bulky and manly office briefcase, you may as well look for a basic structured Tote bag that is big enough to fit all your binders, folders and other office essentials comfortably. Also, make sure its straps are sturdy enough to hold the weight you will be carrying around, from and to work. Neutrals are again a go-to option as they match well with all work outfits. However, if you feel like making more of a statement in the office, you can certainly pick a patterned or brightly coloured Tote.
Note: A large, casual Tote in fun colours and style is an excellent option for traveling and your all-day outings that require a sizable handbag for a lot of things, besides your essentials (and a fantastic way to show a little personality)!
2. A Cross-Body Handbag for Daily Endeavours
A satchel-style, cross-body purse has a place in our closet, especially if we need to stay hands-free and lightweight all day around while running from one errand to the other. They are great for casual occasions, where you only need your basic stuff with you (i.e. keys, cellphone, and wallet).
3. A Clutch with a Shoulder Strap for Formal Occasions
They may not be the most practical type of bag to carry during the day, but clutches are very handy for the times when more formal appearances are required, such as an evening work event or a wedding. After all, you won’t need more than just a few essentials, like your makeup, cellphone, and wallet in such functions.
4. A Hobo Purse for ALL Occasions
Beloved for their relaxed style, hobo bags are ideal if you want a multi-purpose armpiece that is appropriate for both casual and formal occasions (from work to going shopping). They are versatile bags; perfect for women with a busy schedule that find themselves having to do many different things all day long. Not to mention that they are superb options for parties too, especially those with fun details, like fringe!
3. Look for Comfort
Opinions as per which type of bag creates a sense of comfort when wearing it vary because each woman has a different style. So, although some of us can’t live without our cross-body bag, others find it less comfy than the shoulder pieces. A way to decide what to wear is to think of your everyday to-do list. If you will need to carry with you a lot of things, it is suggested to choose a bigger bag so that it doesn’t look overstuffed (hence, messy). Plus, the straps of a bag that’s not big enough to support the weight you put in it will probably wear off quickly, forcing you to buy a new bag or have it repaired by an expert professional.
Tip: Try a bag that comes with different straps that you can switch in varying ways so that you can continue to impress with your looks and skip boredom from carrying the exact same bag over and over again. Or, why not, pick a Reversible Tote!
Ideas to Add a Personalised Touch to your Handbag: Accessorise it!
From keychains, charms, and jewellery (i.e. hair clips with bejewelled designs or bobby pins with decorative jewels) to scarves, fringes, and small teddy bears, there are infinite ways to accessorise your handbag. Think that chains or teddies are not grown-up? They may be so (although we believe that if you like something, you should go for it, regardless of what others believe – we only live once, right?); however, they are super fun and cute, and definitely add a nice flair to your bag!
Now, if you still feel uncomfortable accessorising your bag with keychains, there are fancy tassels (yes, like the ones we see on high-end curtains) that come in a variety of colours and different kinds of metal (the key rings), leaving you with much room to personalise your appearances. Just slip them onto the edge of an external pocket, and you are good to go!
Note: Keychains are also great ideas to accessorise your wallet (on the zipper pull) and stop searching for your keys at the bottom of your handbag!
However, let us not forget that we can use our creativity and turn a bag we like, but don’t love, into a favourite armpiece, with some DIY inspiration. All you need is a glue gun and some nice stuff, such as beads, studs, ribbons, buttons or brooches to give your bag a revamped look in minutes. This is very handy if you feel it is too difficult to find the perfect bag that speaks of your personal style.
Finally, there are scarves, which must have started a trend on their own by women that would tie their scarf to their purse handles so that it doesn’t get lost! Who would have imagined that running a scarf through both handles of a bag and tying it into a nice bow would be so popular! Try some patterned silk ones, floral designs or any other style you see fit, and you’ve got yourself a work-, party-, everyday-appropriate armpiece.
Truth be told, though, it is all about how you feel about a particular bag. If you see one with your name written all over it, then do trust your gut and go for it! We tend to glow when we wear something we really love!
How do you find the perfect handbag or purse when you go bag shopping? Do you accessorise it or prefer to keep it as is? Do tell us in the comments below!