3 Handbags Every Woman Needs

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

3 Handbags Every Woman Needs: Leather Tote

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

3 Handbags Every Woman Needs: 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

3 Handbags Every Woman Needs: 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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21 thoughts on “3 Handbags Every Woman Needs

  1. Note to self:  check any flooring “before” moving things around.  🤪  Sorry your House was so crazy this morning.  Isn’t that just how it works sometimes when we already have a lot going on? It just seems to all hit at once. Oh well … all you can do is laugh and move on.  

    Great post.  I have multiple handbags but in an effort to minimize lately this post is very helpful! 

    Hope the rest of your day and week go more smoothly.  🌞 🌺 

  2. I’ve been carrying a blush bag this summer. I would consider this a neutral as well. It seems to go with everything. I agree with you about a black everyday bag. It doesn’t work for me. We’re headed to NC the end of the month and I’ve been on the lookout for just one bag to do the job. I’m not having any luck so far.

    1. We’re headed to NC, OBX the end of the month too! I have been looking for the perfect tote. Not too big, not too small. LMK if you find the perfect bag.

    2. I agree, blush can definitely work as a neutral! I think it would be hard to pick one bag – maybe one that comes with the removable pouch that you can use as a clutch in the evenings? I would want a crossbody, though, for walking around, I think. So maybe a largish crossbody that is on the dressier side? Maybe this or this ? I wouldn’t want anything much bigger for sight-seeing, if you can fit the essentials in there. I love the Tumi crossbody that I got during the NSale for travel, and the nylon is lightweight, but it’s not real dressy for dinner out:

  3. I could never live with just 3 bags!  Haha.  I, also, love handbags, but my tagline would be tea and handbags ; )          You are so right about investing.  I have designer bags I have had for over 10 years that still look good.  Also, when you carry a nicer bag, it just feels better.  I don’t mean emotionally, I mean the bag feels better because of the quality.  I really like the coated canvas like a Louis Vuitton.  They are light weight and I just love the feel of it.  

    Good luck with all of life’s little hassles today!     

  4. Thank you! I am a one and done when it comes to handbags. I have a “summer” bag and a “winter” bag and that is about it. This was helpful info. for looking for a clutch and cross-body bag. I tend not to have those and panic when an occasion arises that I need something smaller than my everyday bag.

  5. When we make plans God smiles. Sometimes they change. Go with the flow. I’m better about that than I use to be. Enjoy company. All will fall into place.

    1. Ha. I’ll have to borrow that line sometime! It’s all good. These are not problems, just little life blips. I know people with real problems, so I can’t complain about a busy morning and a silly mixup with my wood floors. 🙂

  6. Oh my word, this is such a helpful post! I’ve been reading and listening to your words about investing in a nicer everyday bag but haven’t had the guts to do it yet. But I think you are so right about thinking of the amount you use it! I like those deep cavernous bags too! So I will be doing some shopping!

  7. Hi, we are going to Europe in late fall celebrate our 25th anniversary. Do you recommend a cute backpack style bag or a medium-sized cross-body while traveling and sight-seeing? Thanks! 

    1. I have never been to Europe, so I’m not sure I know what I’m talking about, but I have heard that you have to be especially careful of pick-pocketers so I would think a crossbody because it’s easier to keep your eyes and hands on it.

    2. Definitely something you can wear in the front. You’ll be warned about pickpockets (or should be) most everywhere, even the smaller out of the way towns. The times I’ve gone I’ve tried several options (crossbody, Kavu, etc). This past time I used a smallish Michael Kors crossbody and it was perfect. Walking around, there’s not really much need for something large and/or something you can make too heavy by loading it down. Every time I’ve gone, you walk miles each day.

  8. Oh my what a crazy start to your week… but sounds like you’ve handled it like a pro…… Nothing like working under pressure. LOL. Thank you for this post, I was one who did not either see it or remember it from last year, so it was spot on especially as I start to gear up for fall and winter. I know what you mean about investing in quality handbags. I to look and wait for the sales. I have purchased all my Kate Spade bags during our trips to the states and what deals can be found. When it comes to purchasing the crossbodies, I take items out of my purse in the store and put them in the purse I’m looking at buying to see how it all fits. (so not to have to switch wallets) even thought a have a smaller one just in case. I do like to stick with the neutrals so they will match my wardrobe easily. I love cognac for the fall and winter( or even all year for that matter) along with black. Taupe or blush , and greige for the spring and summer. I also like just a few inexpensive bags to grab and throw whatever in for the summer. These I may only use for one season. Last fall I bought an eggplant tote( Kate Spade) which I hope will be trending this season as well as I really enjoyed the pop of color. Thanks for these suggestions. Have a great day.

  9. Holy cow!  I sure hope that your day has improved.  I would have been very frustrated about the flooring for the office, but, what can you do.  At least the store is taking care of their customer, even though it means a delay in having the flooring installed.  And yes, I’d count moving all of the boxes as a great workout.  You’re lucky the extended family are good painters and willing to help out!  Enjoy their visit!  Regarding handbags – I like to have numerous ones to chose from year round.  And my favorite style is a medium sized satchel.  I need the contents to be organized and stay in place so I can get what I need without looking.

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