You need something that goes with your dark jeans and heels on a Saturday night and is suitable for a black-tie wedding. O creative director Adam Glassman says a bag in a neutral metallic material—like silver, gold or pewter—adds subtle sparkle and works with both. Make sure your purse has a wrist strap so that you can avoid tucking it under your arm and snagging it on fabrics like silk or chiffon. (We like this hot pink version from La Regale.) A brightly colored leather clutch can be just as versatile and looks less formal than satin or lace for daytime events.
The right size: Approximately 10 inches long (the size of a standard envelope), says Amanda Mull, handbag enthusiast and managing editor of PurseBlog.com.
The most common mistake: Choosing a too-petite style that barely fits a tube of lipstick and a credit card. Slip your essentials into the bag before you buy and make sure that you can easily snap it closed.
One to try: Chunky metal or colored zippers (seen on designer handbags like 3.1 Phillip Lim and Helmut Lang) accent a graphic shape—not to mention they'll keep everything inside secure.