"I'm thinking that balls are to men what purses are to women. It's just a little bag, but we feel naked in public without it." - Carrie Bradshaw
1. The Satchel
Marche aux Puces Clignancourt, Paris
The satchel is a great everyday purse - practical and elegant. Look for a nice leather bag that will age well and fit all your day-to-day necessities. If you don't like leather, then another great option is canvas, which comes in a variety of colours and patterns. This is a piece that is definitely worth investing in since it will become a wardrobe staple. Wear With: Try a slim, dark jean with ankle boots, a white button down and a blazer for a polished, sophisticated look. Remember - purses are versatile so play around with different looks. Recommended: Check out local markets for great hand-made pieces or try this version I've been coveting from Fossil (find it here).
2. The Handbag
The handbag is a must for the workplace, since it's classy and elegant. Better yet, you don't have to break the bank to find a nice one - most department store and box stores carry some great versions. Don't be afraid to play around with bright colours! Crocodile skin and other leather prints are always a nice option as well. Before making a purchase consider whether you prefer a single or double handle and if you like to carry your bag at the elbow or on your shoulder. Wear With: Style with a tailored dress and pumps or with jeans and a blazer. Recommended: Aldo just released a new version of the handbag above (find it here) or try this faux-crocodile bag (find it here).
3. The Tote
Tri-Delta Tote Bag (left) and Joe Fresh (right)
Totes are a nice option for days when you have to carry around a lot of stuff, like a beach trip, picnic or overnight stay. Canvas is my suggestion since it washes out easily and you can fold it up and store it in another bag if you need to. Try a nautical colour scheme or a bold print for a summery feel. Avoid plastic or vinyl. It may be easy to clean, but it looks cheap and you don't want people to see everything that you have in your bag. Wear With: Reserve your tote for overnights and day trips. It's the perfect way to stay stylish while getting to your destination! Recommended: Sadly, the white tote above is only available to members of the Delta-Delta-Deta sorority (my sister is a Tri-Delt), but find a similar version here.
4. The Clutch
Clutches are great for formal occasions when you don't want to carry a lot of stuff with you. Try a bold colour and experiment with fabrics before you make a decision. Look for details like beading, hardware, decals, ruffles and patterns. The clutch is small, so you can go big when it comes to details. Make sure that you still have enough room to hold your phone, money and makeup, nothing too tiny. Avoid bags that look like they are on their way to prom and instead think sleek and sophisticated. Wear With: Pair it with anything from jeans and a t-shirt to an evening gown. Clutches are pretty versatile. Recommended: Try this sparkly Forever 21 bag (find it here). Most vintage stores carry clutches as well, which is a great way to find a unique piece.
5. The Cross-Body Bag
H&M (left) and Vintage Purse - my mom's from the 80s (right)
Last but not least, there is the cross-body bag. This small, versatile bag will be your best friend, since it's easy to wear and hard to accidentally leave behind. The cross-body is also a great alternative to the clutch if you are going out at night with friends, because you can sling it across your body and then forget about it. A simple brown leather option like the one above is perfect for transitioning from day to evening. To add a little sparkle to your outfit, try a sequined or bejeweled number. Wear With: Pair either style with a LBD in the evening or shorts in the summer. Recommended: Try this affordable brown imitation-leather purse from H&M (find it here) or this furry version from Aldo (find it here).
Hope this helps you build your dream wardrobe! Remember - with purses you don't have to find the right size or worry about fit, so play around and have fun with fur, leather, sequins, patterns and bright colours :)