When was the last time you performed a bag assessment? A purse is more than an accessory – it is a statement, an investment, and a daily companion.

Seriously, what do you hold more often than your bag? You carry it every day, so it has to be versatile, comfortable and good looking. It has to be able to endure being hung, dropped, stretched, stuffed, occasionally tossed in the backseat, and thick-skinned to take verbal abuse when you can’t find something inside.

Out with the old and in with the new? Are you ready to rumble?

Head on in your closet, take all your bags out, fish through for cash, line them up by type, step back and say ‘holy moly’ and then get a garbage/donation bag!

Now let’s start shopping with purpose. Shopping for the right bag can be painful. Totes, hobos, clutches, satchels, cross-bodies, messengers, duffles and more, where’s a girl to start?

Start where you most likely start each day – in the mirror! You must try bags on to make sure they fit! I mentioned to someone that I was writing on handbags today and she said – I love my handbags – they always fit! After I chuckled I realized that that is not always the case.

Here are some tips to ponder!

Let’s consider what a day in the life of your bag might entail. Placed on the seat of the car, or forced to the floor? Placed on the hook in the bathroom or gripped like cash while you use the facilities? Thrown in a file drawer at the office or nicely displayed on your desk as a status statement?

Would you like your bag to be proudly standing and waiting for you so you can easily reach in and find your priceless things lined up in an orderly fashion? Would you like said bottom of bag to stay relatively clean? Then consider grommets on the bottom of your bag.

Are you looking to spend an arm and a leg on one bag and carry it everyday for the next decade to get your cost per wear down? Or are you looking to have a few bags so they actually can be styled along with your seasonal outfits?

Choosing a handbag is not to be taken lightly. Speaking of weight, you need to consider the weight of the empty bag before you add your 40 pounds of stuff. Just ask your mail carrier how much it sucks to haul around a bag that is too heavy.

Let’s talk details:


  • Do you like the straps over your shoulder or do you prefer the hand straps? Remember you still have to carry your latte.
  • Are you large breasted? – if so, let’s skip the dreaded cross-body boob splitter.
  • Ever owned a bag that the handles fall off the shoulder? I do – it’s totally annoying – it’s like a full time job configuring the handles. Wish I had read this article before purse shopping.
  • Try them on with and without your coats. Be sure if it is a shoulder bag it will fit over your jackets when the weather requires outwear!


  • Buy a bag that is in proportion to your figure. The right bag can accentuate your assets – the wrong bag – well we all know that accentuates the liabilities!
  • Are you tall and thin, then buy rounded or slouchy.
  • If you are curvy, opt for rectangular or sleek.
  • Think the 3 bears, too small, too big, just right:

-Too small – no place for your stuff.

-Too big – you are just going to pile in more stuff.

-Just right – lots of benefit to that! The right size and style can knock pounds and years off your frame!


  • Buying a basic bag? Consider buying basic colors, but opt for basic color blocking! Consider something that incorporates black and navy, brown and tan or gray and cobalt.
  • Color blocking has been the rage for years now – keep up ladies, it is not just for clothing but also for shoes and handbags as well.
  • Think versatile, but also think pop of color! Your purse is a great place to make a fashion statement.


  • Never buy a purse without compartments. Trust me, you need them!
  • Dump everything out onto the counter (this could be scary).
  • Line up your bag essentials, items you carry everyday, no matter the bag – wallet, phone, glasses, makeup bag, keys, pens, notepads, etc. Now envision being in a store and your phone rings or you need your glasses to sign the American Distress charge slip. How long would it take you to find those items in a slouchy hobo bag, in a satchel, in a cross-body?
  • Your bag needs to be purchased with the contents in mind. Kind of like having the kids in mind when you buy a car, well not quite, but close.
  • Be sure your bag stays upright when you put it down as opposed to flopping over like a rag doll.
  • Be sure it has zippers or clasps for security – can you spell pickpocket?


  • Seriously, what do you hold more often than your bag? Go for the more expensive bag – you are worth it.
  • Plus how many times have I preached about cost-per-wear? Say you pay $200 for a bag and use it for one season, half a year, a/k/a 182 days a year. Okay I’ll do the math for you. $200 divided by 182 equals $1.09 per day. How much do you pay for your coffee dear? Pay the $200 for the bag! Too pricey? Cut the math in half – a $100. bag will cost about 50. cents a day!!
  • Opt for leather.
  • Shop for known brands, Cole Haan, Coach, Tory Burch, etc.
  • Check the stitching and the seams for quality craftsmanship.
  • Opt for grommet bottoms to keep it clean.
  • Shop on sale or at off-price stores for name brands.


  • When it comes to scale, the size of the bag should be in proportion to your frame.
  • If you are tall or fuller size, you don’t want to be carrying a teeny-weeny bag – that makes you appear larger.
  • If you are of a tiny frame, carrying a large slouchy bag will overwhelm you.

Overwhelmed by the thought of bag shopping?

Call me – I am a great bag lady!

Need more help? Join me at an upcoming workshop.

How To Buy The Perfect Fall Handbag was last modified: by

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