Category Archives: Handbags

How to shop for handbags

Reader Question: I need a laptop-appropriate bag!

Here’s another fab reader question from my Facebook page:

Ok- how to carry a 15″ laptop and look remotely put together? I’ve wasted waaaay too much time searching zappos and shopstyle. Don’t want to carry a backpack unless I’m rocking it Elaine Bennis style. And- last question. Can you carry a laptop bag AND a purse? #jobpromotionproblems

Oh, bags. So fun, yet so annoying. Personally, I am more of a ‘same bag for all occasions’ kind of gal. While I love bags as accessories, I find it easier to use one until I get bored of it, then switch over to another for the next several months.

That said, I often opt for huge bags that can fit it all. While it’s not necessarily wrong to carry a laptop bag and purse, it can become really burdensome. And god forbid you forget one somewhere. It’s more work to keep track of two bags, for sure. My advice is to seek out a large purse that can carry both your laptop and all of your purse-like things (wallet, keys, phone, extra pair of shoes, etc.).  AND DEFINITELY SKIP THE BACKPACK.

I’m really feeling the summery tote as an option for non-beach goings on. Think colors, stripes, and even straw. Sure, it’s a departure from your plain black leather ‘strictly for work’ kind of bag. But that’s a good thing! I find these totes to be both a great size for fitting a laptop, and also a fun way to add personality to your everyday look.

Below are some options:

Stripes go with almost anything. Freaky, but true. As summer approaches, you can go for either canvas or straw. Not just for the weekend anymore, I swear!

You can also try something with a bolder print. I love the outside pockets on this one.

If you’re not quite ready to go into prints, I recommend something with at least some detail. Like a colorful piping, or oversized closure.

Have a burning style question? Hit me up on Facebook or Twitter!

Looks like Q&A Friday

As promised, I’m posting a new style question every Friday. And since it is indeed Friday, here you go.

Today’s question is another from a Lady and the Blog reader:

Does your dress have to match your shoes? Or is it just your purse?

Please, throw these ideas out the window! Nothing is required to match anymore, except the right shoe to the left shoe, I would hope. You actually want to avoid looking too matchy-matchy, as this comes across as dated. Instead, if you want the shoe to remain understated, opt for one of the ‘new’ neutrals– blush tones, whites, metallics, and even animal and snakeskin prints. All of these are surprisingly versatile, yet not boring. And they will complement a variety of hues without pulling attention away from the dress.

Or, if you’d like to make more of a statement, try branching out into a shoe color that’s not anywhere in the dress, à la Michelle Obama. She’s the queen of using bold shoes as unexpectedly chic punctuation marks.

Regarding handbags, nothing has to match this either, not your dress, not your shoes, not your underwear. Nothing.

A bag, especially an evening one, is where you can add some personality to your ensemble. If your whole night-out look is on the neutral or black side, then try out a bright color (red always works). If you’re wearing something that already makes a statement, then try for a bag in an evening neutral: metallic, embellished (chains, stones, or studs, as long as they don’t look cheap), or even bright white (which is my personal fave).

Have a burning style question? Like TRS on Facebook and post your questions there, or start following me on Twitter and tweet away!

Tip day

Today’s issue: handbag storage (inspired by an impromptu trip to The Container Store)

Yes, sometimes I make a rando visit to The Container Store (a.k.a. MECCA) just to decompress. Hey, cheaper than yoga.

While wandering aimlessly, awash in serene bliss, I came across some nifty new ideas for keeping handbags in order!

I’m all about finding stuff you can hang either inside your closet or on the back of a door. After all, if you live in a pint-sized NY apartment, you really have no other options (the stove, maybe).

The above strip thing has clasped tabs to hold the handles of your bags. And it’s kinda cute, no?

Something else I liked was the idea of a shelf divider. They’re like filing cabinets for your purses. You can either go with single ones that attach to a shelf, or get creative and find a whole unit to turn on its side.

For the more anal-retentive types (I feel your pain – handbags can cost more than a year of college tuition), there’s the above option. This organizes, while also protecting the bags from dust, scratches, etc. You can also pre-wrap your purses in dust bags, and place a Polaroid of the bag inside the plastic for identification.

How to Shop for: handbags

In order to find your perfect handbag, you have to look out for the following criteria:

1. Has lots of pockets.

Either on the inside or outside (or both), the bag you find should have multiple pockets so you’re not diving in to the bottomless pit to look for keys, phone, etc.

2. Passes the over-the-shoulder test.

The straps have be large enough not just to let you wear over your shoulder, but also to be able to one-handedly toss over your elbow then onto your shoulder in one fell swoop. I think we all know this procedure. And when trying this, keep in mind that in the winter you’ll have the extra layer of a coat.

3. Color can go with everything.

Find a color that matches everything and that you won’t get sick of seeing everyday. Black is always a safe option, but you can also try out a caramel color (my favorite), burgundy, or grey.

4. Is not too heavy.

I highly recommend leather since it’s durable and attractive, but make sure the bag itself doesn’t way a thousand pounds. I once bought a beautiful Marc Jacobs leather tote that fit all of the above criteria, but weighed a ton even before putting all my crap inside. So unfortunately I rarely use it, which turned out to be a huge waste of money.

Check out Michael Kors and Hobo International. I like their bags a lot, and you can usually find them in any big department store. Hobo has fewer pockets but makes bags in amazing shiny leather.