To some a handbag is more than just a useful catchall for carrying their stuff around in. Indeed, to some a handbag is art, it is obsession, it is the icing on one's fashion cake. To some a handbag is the epitome of self expression, status, and style and to those of you who are reading this; you know who you are.
Your handbags are functional, and therefore splurge-worthy and justifiable. It's true; your cell phone, keys, and lipstick could probably fit in just about anything but your passion for beautiful bags surely could not. Finding a bag that truly speaks to you is like love at first sight - though not necessarily in a good way; it can make you lose your perspective, spend outside your means, and ignore all the warning signs of incompatibility.
Luckily, we've developed this useful Handbag Buying Guide to help make your handbag selection process a little easier!
On that fateful day when you finally do come face-to-face with the bag of your dreams, stop and check yourself. Ask "Is this bag the right shape / size / color for me?" It may look beautiful on the shelf, but it may be a whole different story under your arm. Personal preferences aside; choosing the wrong size, shape or color handbag for your body type can actually make you look awkward, disproportionate, and (dare we say) even fat!
As explained in our Figure Flattering guide; the ultimate goal when dressing should always be to achieve the balance of an hourglass silhouette; and the concept applies when choosing handbags as well.
To achieve the best possible results consider your body type when choosing a handbag style.
Rectangle:If you have a rectangular body type you want to avoid adding bulk to your mid section. For this reason, we recommend soft, deconstructed shapes like a slim hobo for your everyday bag.
Hourglass / Full Figured:If you have an hourglass or full figured silhouette you should look for bags that will compliment your curves and proportions. You can achieve this by choosing a large / over-sized tote for your everyday bag.
Inverted Triangle:If you have an Inverted Triangle silhouette you want to avoid adding extra bulk around your bust and shoulders. We recommend a style that has a long shoulder strap that lands near the hips for your every day bag.
Triangle:If you have a regular triangle shaped silhouette you want to avoid adding extra bulk to your hips. For this reason we recommend an under the arm style like a hobo or tailored satchel for your every day bag.
The second thing that you need to consider when choosing a handbag is color.
It may at first seem like an obvious personal preference scenario; however, this is not necessarily true. When choosing a handbag you should consider if the color will compliment or detract from your coloration, work with your current wardrobe, and transition throughout the seasons - if needed.
Coloration refers to the overall underlying warm or cool tones of your skin, hair, and eye color. In general, people with warm undertones in their coloration look better in gold and colors that have a yellowish tint to them, while people with cool undertones in their coloration look better in silver and colors that have a bluish tint to them.
If you are looking for a basic everyday bag that will pair easily with everything there are several common color choices available: Black, Gray, Brown, Cognac, Cream, and White. These colors are considered neutral, and don't make much of a statement on their own so they should work well throughout the seasons and pair easily with the rest of your wardrobe.
If you are looking for something that has a little bit more punch, but still maintains its versatility, we recommend choosing a bag in Red, Silver, Pewter, Copper, or Gold. Surprisingly, reds and metallics also wear like seasonless neutrals - but they pack some extra style points as well.
If you are a bag collector, and this new bag is just one of many in your bag wardrobe you can probably stand to be a little more free in your selections. For a spring / summer bag consider trying clear, bright colors like yellow, green, aqua, and cobalt. For fall / winter tone it down a bit with a muted olive, burnt orange, or royal purple.
- Opposites attract; so if you want your bag to be the center of attention exploit its contrast by choosing a color that is directly opposite to the most common color in your clothing wardrobe.
- Example: If you wear a lot of purple: choose yellow. If you wear a lot of red: choose green. If you wear a lot of blue: choose orange - and vice versa.
- If you are wearing an outfit with a lot of pattern opt for a bag in a solid color that matches one of the colors within that pattern.
- If you are choosing a patterned bag it will definitely draw attention, so it is best to let it stand out by pairing it with a solid colored outfit.
Always a bit of a gray area; handbag budgets may vary from person to person. How much you want to spend will really depend on your income, personal style, and priorities. In general, women usually feel comfortable spending about 10% of their income on their wardrobe. 70% of that usually goes towards clothing, while the remaining 30% is usually spent on handbags, shoes, and accessories. As noted these numbers may change for you depending on your personal preferences but it is still a good place to start.
If after crunching the number you realize that your bag budget is really a bit smaller then you would like, don't give up hope! Use Coupons - Online retailers as well as department stores often offer coupons. Check online coupon sites, and sign up for the stores mailing list - email subscribers often receive exclusive offers and advanced notice of sales.
Shop Vintage - Vintage bags can be a steal! Whether you are on the hunt for designer labels, or just looking for something funky - vintage shopping can really help you stretch your budget. Check out your local vintage shops, online auction sites, and thrift stores - you never know what you might find!
And if you still can't afford the bag of your dreams consider consigning some of your older unused bags, or having a garage sale - It's a quick and fun way to come up with some extra cash!