I had the time of my life a couple of weeks ago when I lunched with two of my favorite former students. They’re all grown-up now, but still completely adorable. Curious about my current career, the conversation ultimately turned to fashion, and one of the girls said she was in the market for a new handbag. She saw one she loved at a nearby department store, so after lunch, the three of us sauntered over to take a look.
The bag was gorgeous. It was also very large. When she held it up to her slim little frame, she all but disappeared.
Oh boy. Not good. And then she asked me the $64,000 question: “Do you think it's too large for me?”
With those big beautiful blue eyes searching for approval, it killed me to tell her the truth. Clearly she had already fallen in love and the truth was going to hurt.
"I’m so sorry to tell you this, dear, but yes, this bag is definitely too big for you," I replied.
To her everlasting credit, she did not blink, nor did she blanch. And she did not buy the bag. Did I mention she was a very smart former student of mine?
Purses, like clothing, need to be the right proportion for your height and frame. And contrary to popular belief, one size does not fit all.
As much as we wish it were so, one bag will not work for all occasions either. Fashion experts may not agree on much, but they do indeed agree on this one. The well dressed modern woman needs more than one piece of jewelry, more than one belt, and certainly more than one handbag. But don't worry. I'm not advocating an entire wardrobe of purses. Heavens no! Just a very few will do, and do very nicely, thank you.
We all have certain things in our closets that are strictly seasonal, right? Like white pants for summer and black pants for winter. Our handbags should follow suit.
A well made, good-size, beautiful leather bag for everyday is essential no matter the weather, and black for winter is great. However, for spring it would be a good idea to change it up. Try tangerine—it's the color for spring this year—green, or even a mustard yellow-gold. These colors would look fresh and modern, and possibly give you a much-needed change of scenery as well. For summer, think tan, blush or straw—light and cool—and not so big that you work up a sweat just lugging it around!
And finally, a word to the wise: for evening, please bag the everyday bag, no matter how cute, and carry a clutch. It doesn't need to be particularly sturdy, but it needs to be both pretty and practical. You should be able to easily fit your lipstick, keys and phone. Asking your significant other to stash these items in his/her pockets for the evening so that you don't need to bring a purse is so not cool. I know lots of women who do this and think nothing of it. I fear Gloria Steinem would not approve.
Instead, be cool. Be independent. Carry a purse you love.
Always and everywhere.