The Art of Selecting the Perfect Handbag

By Kim Alexis

by Celia Cooksey

I must admit, I am due for a new handbag. I have let the season slip by using the same bags. I switch two or three out once in a while, but I seem to still get compliments on them, which has kept me from seeking a new one. So what makes a handbag great, and why do we need a new one?

To me, handbags express our personalities… That’s what draws us to them. Some of us are functional, some need the top designer bag that makes others gasp, and a few of us need “oh, so cute.” And, let’s face it, some of us need all of them in our closets. Does handbag fashion change with each season? Yes and no. (Fashion is all about yes and no.)

When I worked in New York City in the fashion industry, they didn’t put many bags in our hands for the photo shoots. It was all about the clothes, and handbags were a last-minute accessory. But in real life, we need them!

Since handbags are personal and objective, how do you find the right bag for each season, satisfying your needs but still staying trendy and fashionable? Part of the fun of shopping for the right handbag is scanning the magazines to see what is out there, along with weaving in and out of stores to find what you just can’t live without. You have to have an idea of what kind of bag you need, but then again, we can all be drawn away from really buying what we were looking for and leave with something else entirely!

Let’s say you are the functional type. Trending this year is “futuristic utility.” That is probably a tote bag and can mean pockets, either inside or out, as pockets and space are functional, which is necessary, but colors this year are subtle, drab earth tones. It is functionality with a doom-and-gloom futuristic feel. Backpacks are also functional and don’t change all that much. I feel that backpacks are for children, but that is just me.

How about a day bag for out and about? This is when I start to use the word purse, by the way. A purse is my go-to bag that I use most days unless I am going out, and then I look for my evening bag. Shoulder bags or purses can vary, and this year on the runway, they had unusual shapes. So, this would be a statement bag geared toward gathering attention. I am not sure how much you can fit into a pigeon-shaped bag, but to each their own. The fashion world is calling them “thing” bags.

Let’s end the day with evening bags. These are my favorites, as no matter what, they are not for function but for holding one lipstick and your business cards and maybe your cell phone and car keys if you are lucky. It is all about statement, fashion trends, and either elegance or cuteness with sparkle. To me, anything goes for an evening bag. It completes an outfit and is made for just that purpose. That is its only function. So, find what suits your character. I have 10 or more of them lined up for any evening and pick just the right one due to color, shape or materials used to compliment my mood and my evening wear.

So decide if you are function or style. See what is available, and if you don’t find it then go to a second-hand store – used bags are in, too! Remember though, you have to have more than one, The more handbags, the better. And don’t throw out those older ones… You never know when they might swish back into style or complete that perfect outfit.

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