Back in the day when my blog was still Musings of a Housewife, my tagline was “Powered by Coffee & Handbags.”
Who remembers those days???
I actually had a contest and asked my readers to submit their ideas for my tagline because I was stumped, and that was my favorite out of all the submissions. I guess they knew me pretty well!
But I digress.
While I love to use handbags to accessorize my outfits, many women don’t care to fuss with swapping out their bags several times a week and prefer to have one go-to handbag each season, so let’s discuss the must-have handbags if you want to keep your collection minimal.
I propose three must-have handbags for every woman’s wardrobe. Most sites I read suggested 5 or 6, and that’s more realistic for me, but if you really want to keep things minimal, these are the three styles of handbags I think every woman needs. (Of course, this is general advice; you’ll definitely want to take your lifestyle and personal needs into account.)
#1. Mid-Size or Large Everyday Bag
This could be a tote, satchel, or hobo, but it needs to be very practical. Think about how easy it is to get in and out of, and decide if you want one cavernous hole (that’s what I prefer, lol) or if you want a bag with some dividers for organization. I tend to stay away from a lot of buckles and accoutrements that hinder my access to the contents of my handbag. I like to get in and get out as quickly as possible so I rarely even buy a bag with a zipper. I love those covered magnetic closures. I get almost giddy happy when I discover a handbag that closes with one of those!
While I love to carry a fun color from time to time, I recommend going with a good neutral like grey, taupe, or beige if you’re only going to carry one main bag throughout the entire season. It’s a fallacy that black is the most versatile color. Black is heavy and doesn’t work with every outfit. You’re much better off going with beige or taupe, as shown above.
The shade of beige/grey/tan doesn’t really matter. It’s up to your personal preference and what works best with your wardrobe. I have cool undertones and tend to wear cooler colors so I like my neutrals to have cool undertones as well. Taupe is about as versatile as it gets because it is a mix of tan and grey.
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You also want to think about materials. Suede is pretty, but it’s hard to keep clean and shows wear faster than a leather bag. Soft leather scratches faster than the Saffiano leather, but some don’t like the hard surface of Saffiano. A nice pebbled leather is a good compromise, and that’s what I usually end up with.
I’m a huge fan of genuine leather for your go-to handbag, either that or a durable coated canvas. Faux leather shows wear and tear far too easily. You also want a bag with good strong stitching that isn’t going to start coming out and looking tired after a few months. In other words, you may need to spend a little more on your go-to bag, but if you calculate the cost per use, you will get more than your money’s worth out of a quality handbag.
Obviously, every woman should to stay within her budget, but this is the bag I would spend the most on out of the three must-haves in this post. And definitely, DEFINITELY find one on a good sale!
#2. Small to Mid-Size Crossbody
For weekends or events when you want to be hands-free and don’t want to carry a large bag, a decent sized crossbody is a must-have. I like to have one that at least carries my phone, wallet, lipstick, and a compact. I don’t recommend going too small with this bag unless you are truly a minimalist and don’t carry much with you. For a while, I would only buy crossbody bags that my full-size wallet fits into, but I recently purchased a smaller wallet so I can fit more into my smaller bags. It’s one more thing to switch over, though, so take that into consideration. If you don’t want to switch wallets, make sure you purchase a crossbody that’s big enough to hold your wallet and whatever other essentials you want to carry.
This bag can be a fun color — especially if you wear a lot of neutrals. I love a red crossbody, and last fall and winter I had a burgundy suede crossbody and a teal leather crossbody that I carried a lot. I have a white one that I carry a lot in the summer. If I had to choose just one for all year round, I think I’d go with the red because sometimes you just need a color to jazz up your outfit.
You can certainly spend a lot on this bag if you want, or you can go a little cheaper on this one. You may not use it as much as your everyday bag or you may want to have a couple to choose from or swap out from season to season so I wouldn’t prioritize this purchase as high in my budget.
#3. Dressy Clutch
This is your going-out bag, and it can be fun. I love my leopard calf hair foldover clutch, but you certainly don’t need to break the bank for this piece. There are so many fun clutches in various materials for budget-friendly prices. This bag can be a fancy evening clutch if you attend a lot of events, or go for something more whimsical and fun if you live a more casual lifestyle.
Again, I like to have several of these in my closet, but it is certainly fine to have just one. If you’re going to have just one, you probably want to stick to a neutral to make sure it goes with everything.
I doubt any of this is ground breaking, but hopefully it’s helpful. While some of the prices in the little shopping widgets look steep, I almost always buy my handbags on sale. These days there are no shortage of good sales, even occasionally on higher end designer items if you know which sites to watch.
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