Fight the Frump: Update Your Handbag

I was racking my brain for more ideas for my Fight the Frump series, and I remember someone suggesting handbags as a topic. It’s funny because I wouldn’t have thought of a handbag as being frumpy, but they really can be. Handbag styles go in and out of fashion like everything else, plus there are some general rules or guidelines that are helpful to know, as to what styles/sizes/colors work best for each individual person.

Fight the Frump: Update Your Handbag

As always, with posts like this, I hesitate to show examples of the “don’ts” because I don’t want to insult anyone. At the end of the day, I fully believe you should wear/carry what you like and feel good in, no matter if it’s in style or out or somewhere in between, but if you’re looking to update your go-to handbag this fall, I hope you find this post helpful.

Fight the Frump: Update Your Handbag

The first thing to consider is the condition of your bag.

It’s time to update your bag if it looks worn, if the leather (or whatever material it is) is rubbed off or fading in spots, or if the threads are coming loose, etc. Sometimes we get so used to using something that we don’t notice when it starts to fade, so take a good look at your bag(s) from an outsider’s perspective and determine if it’s time to upgrade/update.

The second thing to consider is the quality.

The older we get, the more important it is to invest in quality basics. Your handbag is something you carry with you every day, and it’s always visible. This is definitely an area where I recommend buying the most quality piece you can reasonably afford.

This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank or go into debt over a handbag (please don’t do that!) but there are lots of good choices at a variety of price points. I also recommend always buying handbags on sale to maximize your budget.

But stay away from fake designer bags. That’s one of those things you can get away with when you’re young, but as we get older, it really cheapens our look.

The third thing that is important to note is the size of your everyday bag and how it compares to your size.

Of course there are times when you need a huge tote to carry all the things, and there are other times when a small clutch is appropriate. But for your go-to daily bag, consider your size in relation to the size of the bag.

If you’re a petite woman, go for a smaller bag — still large enough to carry the essentials, but not so big as to overwhelm you. Conversely, if you’re a larger or taller woman, carrying a diminutive bag throws off your look and can look frumpy.

My fourth tip is not to over-stuff your bag. 

An over-stuffed handbag adds to the frump factor, plus it just looks sloppy. If your bag is bursting at the seams, it’s time to get a bigger bag or downsize the amount of things you’re carrying on a daily basis. Every few years, it’s a good idea to take an honest look at your lifestyle and carrying habits and reassess your handbag needs.

Finally, determine if your handbag looks dated. If your bag was trendy 5 or 10 years ago, it’s probably looking dated now. For example (and some of y’all are going hate me for this) it’s time to ditch the bags with logos splashed all over them.

Also, ditch any quilted cloth bag with a loud print. Again, if you love it, carry it, but if you want to update your look, those types of bags will definitely date your style.

When selecting your go-to handbag, opt for a classic style without a lot of embellishments or trendy accents. Choose a good quality leather or faux leather (unless you are morally opposed, I highly recommend genuine leather; it looks nicer and will last much longer) in a modern neutral tone or a bold color that compliments most of your wardrobe.

Another good option is a quality canvas. These bags are generally less expensive than leather, and they’re also extremely durable and hold up to all kinds of weather as well as sloppy kids, etc.

As far as colors go, if you like to carry just one bag, I recommend a beige, grey, or taupe. Those colors go with almost everything. If you like to have a few bags to switch out depending on your outfit, consider adding a black bag and then maybe a color or two — either a pastel or a bold color, whatever goes best with your wardrobe.

I hope this post was helpful. Now go forth and fight the frump!

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