The 5 Essential Handbags Every Woman Needs
Photo: Courtesy of La Regale
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.
Photo: Courtesy of the Limited
The right size: Something roughly the size of a cereal box that doesn't jut out more than six inches from your body.
The most common mistake: Choosing straps that are too short or too long. Make sure that your bag can be easily swung over your shoulder (with the top hitting at the middle of your ribs) but doesn't drag on the ground if you carry it with one hand.
One to try: A two-tone tote made of contrasting colors doesn't just add style to a standard shopper—many brands (like C. Wonder) feature versions with a darker color on the bottom so that you can set it down at the grocery store or under your desk without worrying about stains.
Photo: Courtesy of Tory Burch
The right size: A purse that's approximately the same length and width as a file folder but not so boxy that it interferes with how your arm swings when you walk. Make sure it has an adjustable strap—a puffy winter jacket can hike up a bag that fits comfortably over a tank top in the summer, says Glassman.
The most common mistake: Choosing a smooth, buttery leather (like lambskin) that shows nicks and scratches, and sags under the weight of a heavy wallet.
One to try: Emerald green accessories showed up at shows like Stella McCartney and Mulberry. Choose a bag in this color to punch up a navy suit or a black-and-white print dress.
Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D
The right size: A bag that rests on the curviest part of your hip or in front of your lower abdomen and is not too much larger than a DVD.
The most common mistake: Chain straps easily slide off, dig into shoulders and add unnecessary weight. Look for a flat, broad strap that is more forgiving.
One to try: A bold pattern with personality is good for off-duty hours—like the watercolor-inspired florals and graphic tribal prints seen on everything from accessories to dresses at shows like Jason Wu and Michael Kors.
Photo: Courtesy of LeSportsac
The right size: An overnighter roomy enough to hold an extra outfit, pajamas, toiletries and a pair of shoes. (Most airlines limit your carry-on to 45 linear inches—meaning your bag should be no bigger than 22" x 14" x 9").
The most common mistake: Buying a bag that's heavy when empty. Thick leathers stand up to being stuffed into the overhead compartment, but they add extra weight.
One to try: A striped style is easier to spot on the luggage carousel, and everyone from Tory Burch to Donna Karan sent stripes down their spring runways.
Next: Packing secrets from travel pros