Summer Purse: Let’s Make it Fun!


Beautifully tailored, structured bag.
Beautifully tailored, structured bag.

There’s nothing like a few days of sunshine and warm temperatures to awaken the desire to ditch those dark wools and heavy coats and walk into a new, happy season of sunshine and brighter colors.  One of the key wardrobe pieces to help make this transition is a summer purse.

I always look in awe at those ladies who change purses each day and end up with everything they need in which ever purse they are carrying.  That’s not me!  Invariably, I am rushing to leave for an appointment or I just simply miss something important (like reading glasses) when making the switch.   That’s why I search for an all-around style and size that will work with most everything.

Versatile teal with hand grip and shoulder strap.
Versatile teal with hand grip and shoulder strap.

Black is not a good option for summer unless your wardrobe is black.  Most people wear lighter, brighter colors during the warmer months so a black purse will be dominate your look and be the first thing people see unless you are wearing black.  However, it is not necessary to default to neutral beige.  Your wardrobe is probably made up of a dominantly warm or cool color palette.   Choose a color that blends well with the majority of what you have in your closet.  It need not match; it only needs to complement the colors you are wearing.

Choose a size that fits with your body size.  If you are tall with large bone structure, you can carry a larger scale purse than someone who is petite.   A non-structured purse gives a casual look while a structured one looks more professional.  Choose the style that most expresses your image.

Smaller scale - perfect for dress or the petite lady.
Smaller scale – perfect for dress or the petite lady.

I especially like the short shoulder strap on a handbag.  It keeps the bag close to your body so that you aren’t bumping people as the bag swings.  A long shoulder strap usually has the bag at your hip, which is not where most people want to add extra visual width.  The short shoulder strap is excellent for travel as well.  Your hands are free, allowing you to do other things without having to set down the bag. It is always close to your body making you a much less desirable target for a pickpocket.  The popular hand strap is not as manageable as a short shoulder strap.  Choosing a primary handbag for a season takes time for most of us.  Each of us has a completely personalized view of what is the perfect pocket configuration and other features for that ideal purse.

Michael Kors multi colored
Michael Kors multi colored

Some purses come in multi-colors allowing a wide range of colors with which it could be worn.  This bag by Michael Kors with its combined warm and cool colors will probably go with many different women’s wardrobes.  It is a great choice if your clothes are primarily solid colors.  Carrying a patterned purse with pattern in your clothing takes great skill and is best not done unless it expertly achieved.

Most of all, find the handbag that makes your heart sing.  Summer is the time to be a little daring and show your bold colors.

New Trends for Summer

Longer is in!  I am so glad to see longer skirt lengths.  For several years now, I have heard clients complain that most skirt lengths are too short for the office and for anyone are over 30.  That leaves a lot of people standing on the fashion sidelines!  Of course, like any fashion trend, extremes are going to be there as well.

Remind you of the Hippy Era? At Saks
Remind you of the Hippy Era?
At Saks

I recently saw a model wearing a skirt just below her knees.  She had bowlegs and the hem of the skirt was exactly at the widest part of her bow.  It goes without saying that this exaggerated her legs instead of flattering them.  There are ways to minimize most any feature so let’s look at a couple of spring trends that need a little navigating to avoid stepping into style land mines.

Longer skirts are one very welcome trend.  As with any length skirt, attention to proportion makes the look a hit or a miss.   Skirts at mid-calf or longer will look best on the lady with long legs.   Visually, having a long leg line will help you appear taller and slimmer.   Longer skirts obviously diminish the amount of leg that is seen.  However, if there is a reason you want to cover your legs, longer skirts are the perfect solution.  I remember talking to a professional lady many years ago when skirts were very short.  Her suit had a straight skirt and came to mid-calf.  She explained to me that she deliberately chose this length because her legs were “thick” and she correctly believed, they were not her best feature so she chose to make them less visible.

Handkerchief hem  at Macy's
Handkerchief hem
at Macy’s

If you have bowlegs, your knees turn inward or have some other noticeable issue, choosing an uneven skirt hem like this example, will divert the eye and serve as the perfect camouflage.   I would not pair these booties with the skirt.  First, I think they appear too heavy for this light skirt.  Here again, the bootie shortens the leg line.  This skirt is casual and fun and I would pair it with ballet flats, a wedge or other sandals.

The “A” line skirt is excellent for a triangle or hourglass figure as long as you have a defined waist.  Ankle straps make the leg appear shorter so I would opt for a sandal without the straps or a pump in a neutral color.

Classic "A" line  at Macy's
Classic “A” line
at Macy’s

Cropped tops are another spring trend that can provide challenges.   This model at the top brings back memories of the Hippie era – loose fitting and shapeless.  I do like the idea of this cropped top covering the waistband as many do not and reveal some bare midriff.  Only a few very young girls with a very trim midriff can pull off that look.  This look says “Hippy” all the way to the Birkenstock sandals.   It is too loose and appears sloppy.  If the skirt were more closely fitted, it would be more  attractive. The goal is not to reinvent a not-so-wonderful past trend, but to welcome new fashion that enhances your look beautifully!

Let Me Count The Ways . . . .


images-2A navy blue blazer is one of the most versatile fashion items ever. The navy jacket has advanced far beyond the classic prep school image to being a wardrobe staple.

Navy is my favorite neutral.  It is a combination of black and blue: blue represents honesty, success, and spirituality while black lends strength and power.  Navy can be paired with both warm and cool colors, making it a great choice for both cool and warm toned people.

Once you find your favorite style, make sure it fits well.   European cuts are excellent for the man with wide shoulders who is trim through the waist area.  If you are more a rectangle build or carry a little extra weight through the waist area, choose a classic cut that does not pull or wrinkle.  Some manufacturers cut the arms larger than most people need in order to accommodate the guy who works out all the time.   A good tailor will spot these problem areas and be able to make the adjustments.  Remember, it is always easier to take in than to let out.images-3

The double-breasted jacket should be worn buttoned so always looks more formal.  Think Pierce Bronson.  Double-breasted is an excellent way to visually slim a thicker mid-area.  Notice how this double-breasted jacket has been stylized to give a classy casual air.   If your style is elegant, this is a great way to go casual and stay true to your personal style.

imgres-3These two men wear their navy blazers very differently while staying true to their own style.  The man on the left is definitely sporty–casual.  Crumpled jeans, sport shirt and blazer topped by slightly tousled hair are perfect for his look.  The man on the right, however, is a bit heavy set and a traditional dresser.  His choice of dress shirt and tie with slacks not only looks appropriate for his image but give a much slimmer appearance.

Then there is the man who wears his blazer with creative flair.  This man adds a driving cap and a sweater.  Notice the slim-legged jeans turned up.  imgres-2This creative dresser would be so out of character if he were required to wear his blazer in a traditional fashion.   He knows his style and rocks it!  This man would not be comfortable in a job that required traditional dress but he could pull his look a little more mainstream by wearing slacks and removing the hat.  I would rather see him working in an environment that allowed him to be authentic.

Navy blazers are a great staple in the lady’s wardrobe as well.  You can use your version of these men’s looks just as effectively.