If you follow the fashion magazines, you know the new important statement is to carry a dramatic handbag. These new bags come in every color, texture and design. They must be big and the prices start at expensive and go up from there.
Let’s look at why the purse has become so important. As you are probably aware, imported clothing has become more expensive due to the diminished value of the dollar against other currencies. People are buying fewer high priced garments and retailers are responding with sales starting earlier in the season. This is all good for us, the consumer. However, designers have discovered that purses are not as subject to seasonal style changes and are a very profitable part of their total business. Thus, they offer a wide variety of styles and colors that are promoted as “must haves” with prices in the stratosphere.
I am struck by the size of the newer bags. Looking through a promotional magazine from one store, I saw that the size generally starts at 12” X 12” and goes up to 23” X 35”. This seems more like a piece of luggage than a handbag. With the large bags being so popular, ladies are naturally carrying more items in them – gym shoes, lunch, baby bottles and diapers, you name it. This is a windfall for chiropractors but our bodies are telling us that we are not designed to be beasts of burden. From a style perspective, purse size needs to relate to your own body scale. The handbag should be a total part of your outfit and not the center of attention. If you are petite, a smaller–scaled handbag is needed. If you are 6’ tall and large boned, you can probably carry one of the 10” X 17” bags.
The variety of styles can be puzzling as well. Many bags offer cargo pockets, fringes, zippers, or rivet details. These bags will never be formal so they work better with jeans or a casual outfit. The material from which the purse is made helps determine where it will be appropriate as well. Napa leather is more casual while smooth leather or reptile prints are more formal. Purses with lace or fur trim will no doubt become dated much more quickly. I would suggest finding a bag that works for the majority of your schedule. If your world is mostly blue jeans and casual tops, one of the casual purses should work just fine but if the bulk of your time is in a suit environment, I would suggest choosing a classic style that will still work for casual wear. For you jeans gals, be sure to have a cute clutch for that dressy occasion. Nothing can ruin the look of a great party dress and heels like toting a big bag with rivets and fringes on it! And have you ever seen a bride at the reception porting a large, leather shoulder strap bag?!
The last criterion to keep in mind is your build and facial structure. If you have an angular build and/or angular bone definition in your face, choose a structured bag that is geometric. If you have an overall soft, rounded, feminine appearance, choose a bag that has a rounded and soft feel to it. By taking your bone and facial structure into consideration, you handbag choice will support your total look.
I hope these guidelines will be helpful when you are making your next investment at the handbag counter. Don’t forget that any color works as long as it harmonizes with your general wardrobe. Gone are the days of matched shoes and bag. For you business women who need to carry a computer or business bag, choose one that has a section for your purse items. Carrying a purse and business bag is cumbersome and takes away from your professional appearance.