In Part One of our quest for the perfect handbag, we introduced you to timeless handbag styles and taught you how to spot affordable quality.
We each have our own personal taste to consider and many available choices. The next step is to identify a handbag style that works well with your lifestyle and body type.
The Most Common Handbag Styles
Totes - Rectangular with an open top and two strap handles in a range of sizes. Possibly the most versatile style and often referred to as bucket bags or shoppers.
Satchels - Inspired by a piece of luggage, it is a bag with a wide, flat bottom, zippered or clasped top and two handles/straps. Doctor and bowling style bags fit this category. They are often carried on the arm rather than the shoulder.
Hobo Bag - A casual style with a long strap, slouchy posture and is characterized by a crescent shape.
Shoulder Bag - A large bag with a strap that can be carried over the shoulder. Think messenger style.
Clutch - A bag with no handles that is carried under the arm. A classic evening bag style.
Identify a Need or Purpose
Every girl should have at least three types of bags at her disposal; a large tote, medium size carryall, and an evening clutch. The styles you choose should be based on your personal style and individual proportions. Once you have a few utilitarian bags at your disposal, you can add trendy and colorful choices to your collection.
My closet has a few trustworthy and timeless bags that will last a lifetime. I have young kids so I need a catch all type bag that can take a beating (okay, so it’s a diaper bag) - my canvas Skip Hop messenger style bag works perfectly and I can sling it over my shoulders comfortably. For everyday trips (i.e., the grocery store) I carry a medium size hobo. I also have a small silver evening clutch and black kiss lock wristlet for special occasions and a larger flat bottom suede tote for day trips without the kids. A large tote or satchel is also great for carrying work related items.
Find The Right Fit
If a handbag doesn’t look right, it may be drawing attention to an unflattering part of your body. The key is to carry the purse near your best feature and choose the right proportion based on your frame. The most universally flattering handbag fits comfortably under your arm and sits at the bend of your waist. Here are some additional tips for common figure issues.
Triangle Shape or Bottom Heavy - Choose a bag with a short strap that hangs high near your torso rather than low slung near the hips. Satchels and short handle totes work well. Textured bags with vertical lines will elongate your figure. They key is to draw attention to your smaller upper body.
V-Shaped or Top Heavy - Avoid carrying purses with short straps that hug your upper body. A bag with a long strap creates balance when it falls below the waist.
Plus Size or Curvy - A medium size bag in a structured style works best. Avoid large, baggy and rounded styles or too small styles. Satchels and clutches that are long and rectangular have a slimming effect. If you have a slim waist, choose a strap length that allows the purse to fall at your waist.
Petite - A purse that is too large will make you look even smaller. Your best choice is a small purse with a short strap. Keep the style minimal and clean so as not to overpower your frame.
Tall and Thin - Avoid small or flat bags that mimic your frame. Choose medium to large styles with volume or bold colors and fabric. Baggy, rounded styles add curves and contrast to a slim frame.
Hourglass - Any style works but keep in mind areas you want to draw attention away from.
These tips are not a prescription that must be followed exactly. They are guidelines to help assess your needs and teach you about handbag proportion in relation to your frame. When you consider this balance, it is easier to choose a handbag that makes you look good. You won't need to obsess over new handbags each season because you will have perfect choices in your closet.
Keep reading next week and I'll show you where to find the best handbags online at affordable prices.