Do You Love the Handbag You Are Carrying Right Now?

February 18, 2011

Before you read this, take a good look at your handbag. Have you been carrying the same one everyday for years? Do you even “see” it anymore or do you grab it and run out the door? Is one handbag enough or would you love to have more but cannot figure out how to transition easily?

One of the most perplexing questions to many women is “what handbag will you carry with that?” Think about it…the outfit is a winner. You’ve even aced the shoes, but the handbag? Hmmm… Frustration sets in. Your everyday bag feels too big and clunky and the other bags in your closet include a quilted diaper bag, a well-worn tote, and a lovely evening bag that holds a credit card and maybe a lipstick. Where’s the fun and pizzazz? Try this:

  1. Take Inventory of Your Handbag Collection:Do you have at least two everyday bags, one tote, two fun handbags, and an evening bag? If not, it is time to shop.
  2. Take a Fresh Look: Look at each bag you own as if you had never seen it before. Does it look sharp and fresh or a little tired? Do the edges or handle look worn? Does it go with most of your wardrobe? Is it a lovely reflection of you? If you answer no to any of these questions, either the handbag needs a little TLC or to be replaced.
  3. Replenish: Consider your lifestyle and basic needs. Do you wear a lot of black or do you alternate it with another basic color? Do you want a bag(s) that can stand the test of time or do you like a new, trendier style every year? What size handbag fits your body shape, size and lifestyle?
  4. The More the Merrier: I love handbags and I enjoy changing them to enhance my outfit and suit my mood (it also has the hidden benefit of forcing me to streamline what I carry with me!). I have to admit I change my handbag more frequently in the summer than in the winter but I love my collection nonetheless. Special note: Don’t have more than you can easily store so you can see them. Otherwise, you run the risk of out of sight, out of mind, or it just becomes too much trouble to make the switch. Oh, and to make that switch easy, consider using something like the purse pouchee:
  5. Handbag Hygiene: Just something to think about…where does your handbag spend most of its time? If you’re like most women, it’s everywhere…your shoulder, the car seat, your desk drawer, the restaurant bathroom counter, and the floor while you’re eating lunch. As a result, your handbag can be laden with more germs than…oh, let’s not go there… Think carefully about where you put your bag. The last thing you want to do is have it on the floor of a public bathroom (or any bathroom for that matter) and a few minutes later on your kitchen table.Want to keep your bag off the floor while you’re at a restaurant. Consider a handbag holder:

Your handbag, like most accessories, is a reflection of you. Forget about purely functional. There are so many styles available right now that no one needs to settle for something they do not enjoy using.

If you are have only one basic handbag, keep it simple. Whether you choose an elegant shoulder bag, doctor’s bag, hobo bag, bucket bag, compartment bag, satchel or messenger bag (just to name a few  styles), choose a color that goes with most of your wardrobe and keep the hardware (buckles, grommets, and metal detail) to a minimum.

Big Buddha, Susan Nichole (use TOTALIMAGE to receive $10 off), and Melie Bianco have beautiful, fun designs for everyday and special occasion bags and totes.

Want a great looking basic handbag? Try a Beijo Bag:

Looking for something a little different: Try a Noah Handbag:
Or, how about this work of art that is also reasonably priced and eco-friendly:

There are a multitude of options for everything from a fun casual tote to a professional handbag to a dressy clutch.

The key to a useful handbag is to blend purpose, beauty and personality. Before buying a handbag that is purely functional, always ask yourself this question: Do I love it and will I look forward to carrying it?

  • Jackie

    Hey Ginger,nnOK. I admit it. Even though I try to convince myself that I only need one bag because I can only carry one at a time, the truth is that I’m lazy, lazy, lazy. I don’t like changing handbags. I usually carry one until it is so worn that it refuses to get on my shoulder! And, although I do have several evening bags there’s only one that I regularly use on special occasions. nnOh, and the handbag hygiene…I totally agree. I have a little “Monk” in me and I’m shocked at what I see ladies do with their bags in public restrooms and restaurants. I own and use a bag holder.nnAs soon as I get a chance I’m going to treat myself to a fun bag!

  • Yay, for getting a new bag (and maybe evening a new sparkly evening bag?)! They don’t have to be expensive and evening bags are great fun. As for your daytime bag, how about eventually having 4 so you have one per season. That way you’re not changing it every day or even every week but once a quarter…just a thought :-)

  • andrea

    Hi Ginger, thanks for the handbag links… here’s another designer I know of, Helen Riegle in Marblehead, whose designs are all vegan and eco-friendly: nnwww.her-design.comnnEnjoy!n

    • Thank you, Andrea. Yes, I know Helen and have two of her handbags. They are fabulous and I highly recommend them. Thanks for sharing that!

  • I loved this article and it’s a great reminder that I don’t necessarily take care of my handbags as well as I should. More so that shoes, handbags are my fetish. Great tips you provided Ginger, and I am completely in love with the bag from Terratrendz.nnI absolutely love working on your content, all the great reminders and tips you provide are fantastic. I’m sharing this article with a friend of mine as we always have a debate about handbags, she never wants to pay more than $20 bucks for a bag, while I look at them as an investment. She has spent as much as I have on her handbags, yet she’s always needing to get a new one because the ones she purchases are often poor quality.nnThank you Ginger!

    • Thanks, Renee! So glad you enjoyed it. I love that bag from Terratrendz, too — and the color is great for both of us redheads! Sounds like you’re a great influence on your friend, too — handbags are fun as well as functional!

  • Okay this post was sent to make me buy a new bag. ;-) I was just over looking at some women’s camera bags and trying to decide if I wanted to buy one or not nn think I will buy one and see if I like it (can always send it back if it doesn’t work for me). I love all the colors she has and I will need a camera travel bag in August when I go to a photography workshop. nnIf anyone goes to check them out – when you click on any of the bags there is a video that does an autorun where she shows that particular style (you may need to mute your audio if it’s a bad time for sound to come out of your computer!!!). I like all the colors, but I really need to get hold of it to see if I’d like to use it or not. nnLike Jackie I tend to stick with one purse from shear laziness… although I have gotten a few smaller purses for when I go out to dinner so I’m not dragging my day purse everywhere.

    • Yes, Teresa, you’re right — this was definitely meant to inspire you! Beautiful bags — love all the colors. Let us know which one you choose and if you like it!!

      • I ended up choosing a different bag entirely. While the Kelly Moore bags are great, there was just something holding me back. That “not quite there” feeling. nnI accidentally came across a post over at the Digital Photography school about camera bags for women and someone posted a link to this company and this is the bag I got (although it isn’t due to ship until April).nn teal. I saw it and said – “that’s it!” I hope it looks as good in person as it does in the pics. n

        • My wish would be for every woman to reach your comment. The “that’s it!” feeling it what you want every time you make a purchase. Yes! And, for all you fabulous vegans out there, these beautiful bags are cruelty-free. Thank you so much, Teresa, for following up. Enjoy your beautiful bag (when it comes in April!).

  • Ana Tampanna

    Ginger, I’m so guilty…this was a fun post. Could you tell me how to organize purses? I don’t have the space. I’ve seen a gadget that hangs from a closet door with hooks all the way down so one can store as many as 10-12 purses but I don’t know where to get one. Any suggestions?

  • Sarah

    Great article! Thank you for mentioning pouchee!nn~ Sarah with Pouchee n(

    • My pleasure, Sarah. Some of my clients have gotten one and really like them!

  • SewFrancine

    Hi Ginger,nI have sloping shoulders which are also curved from shoulder musles. nTo prevent the strap from falling off my shoulder, I sew no-slip shelfnLiner around the strap. I know this sounds ugly, but I’m a seamstress nAnd I know how do make it look good. nThank you for all your helpful tips, I hope you enjoy mine. nFrancine

    • Ginger

      What a clever idea, Francine (especially if you can make it look good :-)u00a0 I know some women also opt for cross body bags which eliminate that problem but they aren’t always as pretty.u00a0 Thanks for the idea.

  • Caryl Dlugy

    Hi Ginger, in the midst of following your advice regarding detoxifying my wardrobe, I realized that I really don’t have a wardrobe (the job I have and LOVE requires me to wear only yoga pants, fleece jackets/vest, ALL BLACK). My focus has now shifted to really adding something special to my non-work hours outfits and making a point of changing into them rather than leave work and remain in my “uniform”. u00a0You read my mind about handbags, I’ve decided that this is the one item I can use to express myself even if I am dressed head to toe in black for work. u00a0I just ordered a Pouchee now that I’ve promoted handbags to the top of my wardrobe! u00a0Shopping next (I only have one purse that made the cut)!nCaryl

  • Celeste McClain

    One of the problems I face is that I can’t carry a heavy bag, but need to carry at least a phone, wallet, glasses, a few lipsticks, and my Kindle (which has a totally fabulous custom cover!!). That’s about as much weight as I can handle, and I also hate carrying two bags (eg, a purse and a tote) as I’ve seen many women do.u00a0 I do have back/shoulder problems and so need to find nicer bags that are small but hold a lot. We can cover this when we consult of course!

    • Ahhh, something fun to focus on.u00a0 More women should streamline what they carry for their back/shoulder health and just because we tend to accumulate “stuff.”u00a0 Thanks, Celeste.u00a0 See you soon.

      • Celeste McClain

        u00a0Another question, Ginger, before we shop, even! I’ve been considering a bag with changeable outer covers. The inside-organizer idea doesn’t work as well for me, as I prefer smaller bags. Do you know of any really good ones? The few I’ve noticed on line don’t appear to be of very good quality — any advice? Thanks so much!

        • While I have seen some of these handbags I am not familiar with all the options out there.u00a0 And, because they are a little bit trendy or gimmicky, the quality will generally suffer a bit.u00a0 Remember, yours has to have a touch of expressiveness at least and preferably edgy glamour.u00a0 Be sure to keep that at the forefront of your mind while you look :-)

  • Amy

    Hi Ginger — Does the purse need to match my outfit?u00a0 I have a great red purse but find I hardly ever use it!u00a0 When I’m wearing an outfit with red I feel it looks too “matchy” and when I’m not wearing red I feel it looks “out of place”!

    • Good question, Amy.u00a0 Actually, it’s generally better if it doesn’t match (and matching reds, as you’ve probably noticed, is pretty challenging).u00a0 If you’re wearing a print that has a touch of red in it then the handbag can be fun.u00a0 Otherwise, pairing it with beautiful neutrals (you look great in deep browns) would be totally beautiful!u00a0 Post some pictures on the forum and we’ll help!

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