SAVE, SPEND, SPLURGE: Neutral Everyday Handbags

I’ve been getting requests for neutral handbag recommendations, so I decided it was time to update this post — not that I need much encouragement to talk about my favorite topic!

I’ve always had a thing for handbags, for as long as I can remember, and I enjoy changing them out with my outfits.

That said, I know a lot of you tend to carry one main bag for the season, and that’s what I’m focusing on in this post — neutral everyday handbags that are versatile enough to be your one bag for the season.

one // two // three // four // five // six // seven // eight // nine

The most versatile neutral color for an everyday handbag is a shade of taupe or beige — decide on a warm or cool tone based on the rest of your wardrobe. If you tend to wear mostly cool color tones, you will probably like a taupe or grey bag best. If you wear warmer shades, a tan or cognac colored bag will coordinate best.

You Might Also Like: How to Pair Shoes and Handbags That Go Together Without Being Matchy-Matchy

I’m a tote girl for my everyday bag, but sometimes I like a good satchel or hobo style bag for a change. Some women prefer a crossbody or backpack so they can be hands-free.

The one thing that IS for sure is every woman has different preferences and budgets, so I tried to include a variety of styles and price points in my recommendations.

I do want to encourage you to consider investing in a quality bag. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton, but pay attention to the quality of materials and workmanship because a handbag can go a long way towards completing a classy and polished look.

SAVE: Neutral Handbags Under $100

These bags from budget brands are mostly faux leather, but they look nice and should last you at least a season of daily use.

SPEND: Neutral Handbags $100 — $750

These bags from contemporary designers are mostly genuine leather, although I did include a few higher end vegan bags for those who prefer that. No matter the material, these are all good quality bags that should certainly last you a few years of regular use.

Obviously, you can shop off-price retailers and consignment shops to get even better deals on these designer brands, but I’m linking to the retail stores I can access through my ShopStyle shopping widgets.

You can also find good sales at these stores throughout the year. Be sure to utilize that Get Sale Alert button so you get an email when something you like goes on sale!

SPLURGE: Neutral Handbags $750+

Finally, for those who are into luxury bags, I rounded up some of my favorite splurge-worthy styles.

I know these aren’t for everyone, but I did have a few requests for this category, and I think it’s good to know what’s out there. If nothing else, this shows you the styles inspiring some of the handbag designs at the more accessible price points.

I hope that was helpful, or fun at least. Do you have any of these bags? Or another bag you’d recommend?

You might also like: Fight the Frump: Update Your Handbag

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16 Responses

  1. This may be a weird question but I’m wondering if anyone but me is thinking about bags in a whole different way this year. i’m sticking to small cross bodies with a minimum of “stuff” when I go out. I don’t want to set a bag down anywhere (even in the grocery cart) so I’m leaving the bigger bags at home. And I’m not really reaching for my good leather as I think about maybe needing to wipe my bag down with a Clorox or Lysol wipe. I am honestly wondering if this is overkill on my part or if others have the same thoughts. As always, JoLynne, great post! 

    1. Yes, when this all started, I thought my crossbody bag made the most sense too. It’s actually a combination of a removable cognac strap from a Kate Spade bag and a smaller black Fossil crossbody  purse so it goes with everything. Since the cognac strap has a thin black trim on the edge it looks like it goes together. I don’t really feel compelled to wipe it down since I never take it off when I’m out. And to Jo-Lynne’s comment that a spend purse should last a few years, that is so true. I am a total convert to a higher quality bag because they just don’t show the wear and tear of cheap bags.

    2. Yes, totally changed my attitude towards what bag I carry. Throw my nylon Tumi crossbody in the washing machine regularly after going out and it holds up really well.

    3. Yes, my way of thinking has certainly changed! I no longer take a purse into a store. I have my credit card and points cards in a plastic bag in my pocket. At the checkout, I use the tap for the credit card and the checkout person scans my points card. I love that I don’t have to touch my cards and the baggie is easy to clean.

    4. I guess I’m the odd man (woman?) out on this one. I carry my bags. I didn’t at first; well, I would bring them in the car and just carry my credit card and phone into the store in a pocket. But after a few months, once we realized Covid isn’t spread primarily on surfaces, I started carrying my bags everywhere again. They bring me joy (admittedly on a very superficial level) and we all need to find joy where we can these days. I do, however, find myself gravitating to crossbody bags and shoulder bags. I don’t think I’ve carried a tote since before lockdown.

      1. I agree Jo-Lynne. I carry my bag wherever I go. I like to “finish” my outfit with a bag and am not concerned about picking up germs on it. I don’t set it down often, except in restaurants.

    5. Diane…..you aren’t the only one. At first I was just leaving mine in the car and taking my credit card only.  Now I only take my backpack one and leave it on my back and its not full leather if I have to wipe it down.  I hate thinking like this, but it is what it is right now.  I think a small crossbody would be best for sure. I also try not to ever answer my phone while in the grocery store etc. Don’t like touching it to add germs.  

    6. I am totally with you Diane…. I have designated one small crossbody purse for all my shopping and outings. Give it a Chlorox wipe when needed. When this COVD 19 is over or more “normal”, I’m tossing out the purse as a celebration. Then will use my nicer purses.

  2. Thanks for compiling this post for us!  I do love having lots of handbag options in my closet.  I hope you have a great day!

  3. I love handbags and tend to buy in the $100-$200 range. I always use a tote for everyday and like to change at least monthly. That said, I’ve been like some others and not wanting to use my good handbags right now. I’m not going to wipe them with Clorox wipes since I’m sure that would ruin them. I use either my Kate Spade card holder which I carry in my pocket or an inexpensive crossbody bag I got from Amazon for under $20. I look forward to the day we can use our favorite purses again. 

  4. I can’t bring myself to pay for a splurge bag but I guess it’s just not my “thing” either. I usually buy a spend bag because of the quality and they last so long especially if you rotate by season. Every now and then I might buy a cheap one from somewhere like Target if it’s really trendy for fun.

  5. Great info!   I love a nice cognac colored tote, mid sized.  But as Diane & Kelly mentioned, the crossbody bags are the most practical for now.   For starters I’m not going out as much and when I do, it’s mainly dining outside so I’ve found there‘s  no where to put my handbag but on the ground. Same with shopping carts, so the crossbody has been my style of choice this year.  My wish list would include a Tory Burch tote and my dream tote would be the LV tote that you’ve styled!  At this phase of my life, my wants are few but that LV bag, 🤔.  The practical side of me is holding me back from purchasing a bag that I would not use a lot……but one can dream!  

    1. I used to think it was insane. Then I finally caved and asked for it for Christmas. I have never once regretted it. If I kept only one luxury bag, it would probably be that one. Life is short, as as you say, your wants are few. I say go for it.🥰

    2. My husband bought me my first LV in 2000. The large bucket bag. I still have it and use it. It’s stayed in great condition. In 2011 I got the large never full in the Damier Azur, when it first came out, and use it for traveling. We travel a lot, so it’s been put through the ringer and is still going strong.  People think the straps won’t hold up, but I can tell you I have loaded that thing to the gills and never a problem.  Go for it, you’ll enjoy it and it will last.

  6. These are my favorite type of posts!  I love looking at the luxury category even if I would likely never choose to buy one myself. 

  7. What a fun post! I love handbags and have many in the splurge category.  But I also love a good find for a fun bag like the tweed Kurt Geiger on the NS sale. I ordered the Ted Baker snake sprint clutch from the sale on Aug 9th, paid for expedited shipping but because it’s coming from vendor it arrives today.  I’ve been carrying my bags all Covid.  I have many LV’s and can tell you that a Clorox wipe does no harm.  I’ve been wiping down my bags for years. I have the YSL tote in beige, and considering it in black for winter.  However this morning before I read your post, I was on the Nordy site and saw the black Burberry and loved it.  Not sure if I should go with a structured bag like that or a tote. Also loved the Mulberry one you showed.  I got the tan Gucci in early summer thanks to your postings of it.  In the big scheme, I know this isn’t important but enjoyed this post, especially today.  We dropped our daughter (college senior) back to school yesterday, with Lysol spray, wipes, hand sanitizer, tons of masks, hoping for the best.  When the elevator door opened, there were five guys standing in our faces, no masks, ready to move in! We’ll see how long it lasts, before we have to move her out again. 

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