The 5 Essential Handbags Every Woman Needs
With this list, there will be no more purses squashed in your closet, no more impulse bag buys, no more hoarding of freebie totes.
La Regale Satin Clutch on Frame with Rhinestone Closure
The Fits-More-Than-a-Mint Clutch
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

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.