Shopping for the right bag isn't like shopping for anything else. While your attire changes from day to day, your bag will be one of those constant companion accessories that will be with you every day. It's your toolkit, your fashion statement, your carry-all, and so much more. Choosing the right bag has benefits beyond just the look and practicality of the kind of handbag you choose, though. It can radically alter your look, how you feel, and even the perception others have about you. A bag that fits your body type can make you appear thinner, or accentuate parts of your body that you want to stand out. In today's post, we're going to give you our list of tips to shop for a that new accessory, that's oh-so-important in your daily life.
1: Handbag terminology
When discussing any topic, it's a great rule of thumb to understand the terms involved. It's no less so with your bag. Handbags come in all different shapes, sizes, and are meant for a variety of uses and occasions. Here are some of the most common types.
The tote: A bag with an open top, and straps or handles.
The hobo: A shoulder bag, crescent shaped, with a slouchy and soft style.
The duffle: A tall shoulder bag, usually with a wide opening on top.
The field bag: A should bag with a flat top, usually with closures such as buckles or snaps.
The clutch: A handheld bag, meant to be carried or tucked under the arm.
The satchel: A large, structured, handheld bag
The messenger: A large, soft shoulder bag with one long strap, worn across the body.
The crossbody: A mini sized bag, meant to be worn across the body with a long strap or chain.
2: Shop for your body type
We've discussed shopping for your body type when it comes to apparel, before. While the right fit for your clothing is certainly important, it's an often overlooked aspect of shopping for your bag, as well.
In general terms, picking a handbag for your body type has a guiding rule: the opposite shape of your body is the most flattering.
Tall and thin
A handbag with a short, slouching shape, like a hobo, is a great fit. The key here is the strap. Avoid bags with a short strap, as they'll tend to make you look even taller. Try for something with more width and than height.
Big bags aren't for small women. While you may be tempted to have something that can carry everything, a bigger bag will overwhelm your frame, making you appear even smaller. Likewise, bags with long straps will weigh you down, giving you a shorter appearance.
Large, structured or boxy bags will balance out your curves. Small bags, on the other hand, will give you a larger appearance. When picking colors and patterns, look for solid colors, as tiny patterns will, likewise, give you a larger appearance.
Tips for all types
Only spend on an expensive bag if you're going to use it on a regular basis. There's no need to drop $500 on something that will sit in your closet. If you're shopping for several inexpensive bags, pick two in an everyday color that fits with a variety of outfits, such as black or brown. Then, experiment with some other, brighter colors for variety. Above all, though, keep comfort in mind. Don't stick yourself with something that you don't like to carry. Consider the empty weight, and then imaging carrying things like your phone, wallet, keys, socks, makeup kit, and more around in it, as well.
3: What's the occasion?
What you're doing, and where you're going are a huge influence on what kind of bag to carry. You wouldn't take a backpack to an evening out at an event, right? The purpose is to look classy, which means minimizing the amount of stuff you'll need to tote around.
Everyday carry around: Satchels are the ideal every day bag. Your go-to accessory should carry the necessities of life, such as your phone, wallet, planner, pens, snacks, etc. For day-to-day use, a satchel or crossbody bag will fit the need with a spacious, large pocket and some smaller compartments to help keep you organized. Crossbody bags, in particular, are a great choice as they stick close to you, and leave your hands free.
Weekend events: The hobo is a great weekend event choice. Just like the satchel, it can typically carry everything you need, but has a more relaxed look than the satchel.
Day at the park: Amusement parks are an all day affair, with a lot of walking, standing, waiting, and snacking. While a shoulder bag or a satchel can fit all of the necessities you need for surviving a day in the sun, they can also weigh you down and cause some shoulder pain. Backpacks, though, aren't just for carrying schoolbooks anymore. There's a huge variety of stylish, adult, leather backpacks our there that can keep all your park visit necessities in order, while saving you on shoulder pain. This is especially useful if you're taking the kids along, and need to pack snacks, sunscreen, and still have room for some small souvenirs.
On the go: Whether it's a day trip or week-long excursion, a tote bag is ideal for being prepared. Just like the satchel, your tote is roomy enough to hold everything you need, while maintaining a sleek, sporty, or casual look based on the trip. The versatility of having handles, or a shoulder strap, makes it a great choice to fit multiple types of occasions while traveling.
A night out: For parties, bar outings, or dates, the clutch is your perfect companion. Basically, any time you're dressed up, you'll just want the necessities along, so that you won't be weighed down by a bulky bag. Wristlets are also a great choice, as they'll be harder to forget after a few drinks.
4: The right color
Color has an extraordinary power to influence the world around us. Colors can change the way we feel, the way people feel toward us, alter our mood, and can make or break an outfit choice. While you'll own many different bags for many different uses, there will be a few that will be your workhorse accessories. The every day bags should be a complementary color that will match with the majority of what you wear. Black, brown, or neutral colors such as gray or beige can usually fit with most kinds of clothing. Matching the color of your handbag to your shoes is an ideal way to maintain a fashionable style. Try to purchase bags with a dominant color that matches most of your shoes.
5: The brand
Your bag gets a tremendous amount of use. Of all the things you carry with you, your bag will be treated more roughly than, almost, anything else. It gets thrown around, bumped into, is the victim of makeup spills, pen marks, and so much more. Therefore, it's vital that it can stand up to the abuse that it's unintentionally put through each day. That $10 clearance bag might look cute, but if it falls apart after a week of use, how will you feel?
What goes into making a durable bag isn't just a name, though. It's design, materials, and build quality. A solid foundation is key to a long-lasting bag, which comes down to materials. Quality leathers or vinyls make a good base for your bag, while more delicate materials like nylon or silk will tend to tear or stain easily. How those materials are used is shown in the build quality. Look for reinforced stress points, such as the stitching where the handles connect to the bag. Check along the seams for orderly, even stitching. Eventually, something will go wrong, though. Consider the service you'll get from a brand you choose. If they stand behind their product with a good guarantee, you have a winner. Here are 20 of the top brands for both affordability, quality, and customer service.
- Kate Spade
- Michael Kors
- Calvin Klein
- Dooney & Bourke
- Louis Vuitton
- Vera Bradley
- Marc by Marc Jacobs
- Cole Haan
- Nine West
- The Sak
- Salvatore Ferragamo
- Etienne Aigner