Nothing makes me happier than keeping things simple. It’s so gratifying to own that perfect pair of earrings that goes just as well as with your weekend jeans as it does with your workday or dinner outfit – those earrings you really don’t have to take off for weeks… When I pick a bag I use exactly the same strategy. Of course, you need a couple of great special occasion and knock-around bags, but, when you know how to pick the right purse, you’ll have a versatile, go-to handbag you’ll want to reach for every day. I love it when people ask for my advice on handbags and accessories. When working in retail, my favorite part of each job was matching people with a purchase I knew would fit their lifestyle and budget and then seeing them walk away happy.
Right now, I want to share my favorite questions for helping you pick the perfect purse. Whether you’re looking for a great investment piece or a fun summer tote, ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you want a seasonal or year-round bag?
2. How much stuff do you typically carry?
3. What’s your personal style?
If you want a year-round bag that can take you from one season to the next, blending easily with whatever’s in your wardrobe, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, color. Do you tend to wear a lot of gray, black and navy? (I do.) Or maybe you lean more toward camel or brown. Whichever you prefer, you’ll want to keep your bag in that color spectrum. All of those are neutrals and will go with just about anything color-wise, especially if the bag itself is a solid color. Since you’ll be using it often, you want to pick a good quality bag, like a fine leather or coated canvas with sturdy, well-made straps and handles, so it will last. If the shape is classic (more on that in a moment), you should be able to keep a bag for a decade or more and, with just a bit of care, it will look new for years. If you want a seasonal bag, or one that will go from Spring through Summer, you can still opt for a lighr colored leather or a lighter material such as nylon or raw canvas. You may also want to consider a bright color like a deep coral, blue or olive green, since you’ll be wearing it less often. Just remember that if you wear a lot of bright colors, you might want to tone down the bag and go with a tan or cream so you’re not too busy visually.
It may seem pretty obvious, but you have to consider how you’ll actually be using the bag. If you carry your entire office or the contents of your kids’ playroom around with you, not to mention your wallet, cosmetic bag and keys – you need to not only look at the size but also the shape of the purse. You need a bag with some structure ideally and enough capacity to carry all your necessities, but also compartments and pockets to keep it organized. I love totes, but if they don’t have handy pockets (I like interior and exterior ones) for my keys and phone, I find myself fishing around endlessly and subsequently getting very anxious until I locate them. If you prefer a smaller bag, make sure your selection has enough space so that nothing is spilling over. Again, check out those compartments and look for some structure.
Finally – my favorite part – is matching fashion to function. Once you’ve determined how and when you plan to use your purse, you have the fun task of figuring out if it fits your personal style. First of all, consider the image you project to the world. Do you favor classic clothes with clean lines and elegant fabrics? Then you may prefer a more structured bag with classy details in the hardware or handles. Or are you more of a trendsetter who can pull off the latest shapes, colors and fabrics? If that’s the case, a funkier bag might fit you best. Maybe a bright color or neutral animal print. Your body shape, personal preference and comfort also come into play when picking that perfect purse. If you’re short, a smaller bag with a horizontal shape could be just the thing (though just because you’re short doesn’t mean you have to have a small bag). If you’re tall or on the voluptuous side, you may prefer a larger bag that complements your size well. It’s purely personal preference whether you choose a bag that you would hand carry or one you’d wear with a shoulder strap or cross-body. If you’re not sure, just take a look in your closet and you’ll probably see a pattern. Either stay consistent with what you know is comfortable or maybe venture out and try something entirely new – it’s up to you! The most important thing is not following rules but making sure YOU feel good/comfortable with the option you have chosen. It’s in your hands (pardon the pun.)