Do's & Don'ts for Buying Handbags

Snag a Bag That's Right for You

Fashion web

by Sharon Mosley

When a new fashion season arrives, chances are a new handbag is on your shopping list. But before you snag a bag that’s all wrong for you, check out these do’s and don’ts for wearing the all-important accessory that goes everywhere with you— day in and day out.

>> DO think opposites when buying handbags. 

Body shape, that is. OK, if you’re average, then just about any handbag will look good on you. But tall and slender? Check out a handbag that’s a little on the big and slouchy side. Short and petite? Think skinny straps and a bag that rests above your waist. Curvy girls should stick to more structured styles.

>> DON'T forget to consider function.

You may be carried away with the red suede bag flowing with fringe, but if you need a handbag that’s all business for client meetings, you may want to stick to a more tailored satchel that easily stows away all your electronics. Then, if you have cash left over, go for the boho fringe for that outdoor concert.

>> DO collect colors.

So you think you have to have a brown bag, a black bag, a camel bag or a navy bag to cover the basics? Not necessarily. A colorful handbag can give your everyday outfits a dash of personality. Take a look at your wardrobe and choose a “non-traditional” color that will mix and match with a variety of your clothes. An oversized turquoise clutch is one of my “fun” accessories; another friend brightens up her outfits with a vivid orange drawstring bucket bag.

>> DON’T weigh yourself down.

Some of us may use our purses as our offices, diaper bag, makeup kit, etc. But don’t forget to clean out those handbags occasionally and get organized. Yes, you can pare it all down to the bare essentials. There are tons of small bags that may work just as well and save your shoulders and your back. 

>> DO switch out day and evening bags.

If you don’t have to haul your iPad to a party, don’t. Leave your briefcase-style handbag at home and make the switch to a clutch. There are lots of smaller, embellished bags available for more festive occasions that don’t require huge handbags. Take a break from the big bags and have a little fashion fun.

>> DON’T be afraid to make an investment. 

It’s true that good quality designer handbags can be expensive, costing thousands of dollars. If you’ve got the money to invest in one of the more classic styles like a structured, top-handle purse, go for it, if you know that you’ll use it for years. However, many of us tire easily of handbags and want something new. There are plenty of quality handbags at affordable prices, even in many designer collections. Vintage stores can be a source for gently used designer bags. 

>> DO break the rules.

There really are no “rules” anymore on when to wear what when it comes to handbags. You can break out the sequins and metallic clutches day or night. However, heavy leathers are probably not the best party companions. Slinging your suitcase over your shoulder on the dance floor is a major DON’T!

Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.  Photography courtesy of Nordstrom. Shown: “The Cindy” by Michael Kors.

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