Things to Consider Before Buying Your Next Handbag
From icons to workhorses, our handbags carry us through style iterations and our daily lives, and I can't tell you the number of clients I have who have jumped onto a luxury It bag moment only to be disappointed when they realize that the bag they have purchased isn't very practical for them. There are a lot of considerations when investing in a purse and to make the most of it, functionality has to be front and center. To be clear, when I refer to an "investment" for a bag (or anything in your closet), I am referring to any financial investment you've made - not just expensive designer pieces. These considerations should be thought through regardless of what site you find yourself on adding to cart.
Color. Whether you're looking for an every day or an occasion bag, think about the colors you wear the most in the applicable situation and opt for a color that compliments them. If you wear a lot of dark colors and denim, the clothing dyes can rub off on the bag you carry. This doesn't necessarily mean that you should discount a lighter color altogether if you love it but be aware that you may need to invest more time and care to maintain it and consider materials that are easier to clean. Your bag is also a great opportunity to incorporate color if you want to add more to your wardrobe but don't feel ready to wear a lot of it. Red, emerald green, and blush are all neutral enough to coordinate with a lot of items in most current wardrobes.
Materials. Coated canvas will generally be the most durable material, cow's leather requires a bit more care, and lamb's leather and other exotic leathers require even more. Select a material that can stand up to however you're planning on using your bag (every day, work, special occasion, etc.). Remember, material will also have an impact on overall item weight. If it feels too heavy for you without anything in it, it's going to feel impossibly heavy to carry around regularly.
Craftsmanship. Let me be clear - there are beautifully made bags available in the market at a fraction of the cost of designer luxury, and while you generally get what you pay for, the high price tag of designer luxury doesn't always guarantee the best available product. Look for stitching on handles and around seams (versus glue). If there is a logo or pattern, high quality items will line up symmetrically and continue in an aesthetically pleasing way across seams to other sides. The lining inside the bag should feel like a high-quality fabric and as much attention should be paid to the craftsmanship of the lining as was to the outside of the bag. Some quality bags may not have lining - if this is the case, the same rule applies: exam the inside to ensure as much care has been paid to the reverse of the material as has been to the front.
Size. Any investment you make should absolutely be used, and be used regularly. Regardless of the occasion of bag you're in the market for, choose the smallest one you can that fits your needs. This prevents you from overloading your bag and adding weight while ensuring you have the necessities.
Handles. This might be me talking to my younger self but ensure your carrying options are maximized. I highly recommend top handles and a shoulder strap (extra points if it can go cross-body) to be able to carry it by hand when your shoulders are tired, or go back to a shoulder carry when you have your hands full. If you prefer shoulder only, opt for a bag that has a single shoulder strap. Double straps sit on your shoulders in two different places, which can really take a toll on your shoulders, neck, and back in the long run. Length of the straps and handles should be taken into consideration, too. For shoulder straps, most women's frames can comfortably accommodate a 9 inch or longer strap drop; for top handle bags, around 5 inches is a comfortable length that most women can hold on their wrists as well. The 6 to 7.5 inch strap drops are the hardest range because, depending on a woman's frame, it can be a long top handle or a short shoulder, neither of which are terrible comfortable to carry around.
A note on storage. I love a well-organized closet with beautiful items on display as much as the next stylist (or home organization consultant) but my unpopular (read: practical) opinion is storing your items as a display is damaging in the long run unless you're using them in regular rotation. Barring a commitment to dusting and caring for all of these items weekly, it is best to store them away in their dustbags and stuffed with acid-free tissue paper. If you feel that you need to be able to see them better, clear acrylic boxes are your best bet. Windows in closets can also let damaging sunlight in so be strategic with placement of any wardrobe pieces that may be more sensitive to fading from UV rays.