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Choosing perfect handbag styles for your personality

Centuries ago, there was never much of a need for a woman to leave the house, and if she did, she might tuck her possessions in the folds of her clothes.

As times changed, women started to leave their homes for work and school, and fashionable handbags grew into a useful way for a lady to carry her belongings. Now, handbags are a desirable accessory that have become quite the fashion statement. They’re also a woman’s survival kit. From makeup to hand sanitizer, she’ll be able to conquer whatever life throws at her that day.

The best part? You never physically outgrow your handbags, which is why it’s perfectly acceptable to have a section of your closet strictly dedicated to them. Although you may have every style of purse on deck, you probably usually grab the same one whenever you leave the house. According to Dr. Kathlyn Hendricks, a body language expert who spoke to Glamour on the subject, the style of purse and the way a woman subconsciously holds it can say a lot about her.

colorful purses

The perfect armpiece should be polished and practical, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Here are the lucky seven basic styles of purses that will ensure you’re ready for any occasion, plus ways to carry and wear them that showcase your unique personality:

1. A cross-body bag

Every woman needs at least one cross-body satchel-style bag that can take her from errand to errand while staying comfortable, lightweight and hands-free. Cross-body purses are great for casual occasions that don’t require much more than the basic necessities like wallet, cellphone and keys. Wear it to stay comfy during all-day errands, a trip to the park with the kids or a shopping excursion.

Your brown leather cross-body bag will always be classic. It can be dressed up or down, so you can grab this purse when you’re in a rush. You can also wear it different ways, depending on your current mood, situation, and personality.

Dr. Hendricks points out that if you typically wear your bag over one shoulder and snug against your body, you’re a practical, sensible woman who likes to get things done. A free, swingy bag lightens the mood a bit, indicating you’re less concerned with display and more about the functionality: if a loose-hanging purse means easy access to your phone, that’s how you’ll wear it.

Many women readjust their purse so it’s draped across the front of their body where they can keep a close eye on it. Dr. Hendricks pointed out that these women are often more cautious, reserved and shy.

“Her downward gaze and slightly folded up body posture support the suggestion of a slightly defensive personality,” she wrote in her book titled “Conscious Loving Ever After.”

Carrying your cross-body bag behind your person gives off that go-getter vibe. Dr. Hendricks noted that this is a self-empowered woman, a warrior with a clearly defined goal ahead of her.

2. A clutch

While not as practical for on-the-go women as a purse with a shoulder strap, clutches are useful to have on hand for more formal evening events, like work functions or weddings. The minimalist purse is just the right size for your phone, wallet and some extra makeup, without being so bulky or heavy that it becomes a burden. If you don’t love the idea of having to hold onto your purse all evening, opt instead for a small evening bag that has a long strap or chain which you’ll be able to wear across your body all night.

3. A hobo

Hobo purses are known for their unstructured and relaxed style, and they’re a great multi-purpose purse to have. Hobos can be appropriate for formal and casual occasions, like work, a party or just a trip to the grocery store. Their versatility makes them excellent for women who have multiple things going on each day. Look for fun details like fringe, rhinestones and interesting textures to give your hobo a little extra pizzazz.

4. A casual tote

For many women, having a large and seemingly bottomless tote that can carry everything from their wallet to several toys for their kids is a necessity. This more casual tote style is ideal for all-day outings, traveling and anything else that requires a sizable bag for more than just the basics. If you’re looking for a casual tote bag, feel free to have fun with color, style and design – your purse is the perfect place to show a little personality!

5. A work tote

A basic structured tote bag with sturdy shoulder straps is the perfect replacement for an office briefcase. Choose one in a neutral color that will go well with any of your work outfits, or pick a brightly colored or patterned tote to make more of a statement. Make sure it’s big enough to comfortably fit folders, files, binders and other office essentials without folding or smashing them.

6. Bucket bags

A large bucket bag provides you with confidence while still looking chic. There’s plenty of room for you hold all sorts of items that you can’t imagine going anywhere without. Again, depending on your personality, this bag can be worn different ways:

Carrying your bag tight between the crook of your elbow: “You’re basically telling everyone you don’t need to use both arms as you move around in the world,” Dr. Hendricks told Glamour. She also said a bag worn this way can suggest a priority on status and position.

When you hold your bucket bag down by the side of your body, much like a briefcase, you are subtly calling attention to the importance of your job, Hendricks said. It shows you are confident and secure in what you do. It’s also a great way to balance out the heaviness of your bag so you aren’t leaning to one side.

7. Textured handbags

Trends come and go when it comes to fashion handbags, but this is one that’s likely to stay a while. Textured purses are one of fall’s top fads, with designers like Marc Jacobs and Saint Laurent introducing everything from fur to animal skin to studs on their runways. Textures are truly a look of that season.

Textured bags also have a unique style and one-of-a-kind visual appeal. If you’re wearing solid colors or plain fabrics, a purse with a fun and interesting texture is all you need to add some extra pizzazz to your look. Here are three tips for picking and wearing one you love:

1. Texture style: if you’re looking for a more sophisticated bag, opt for something quilted or genuine leather. Leather handbags are always timeless and on-trend, which makes them amazing investments that you’ll be able to use for years. For something a bit more whimsical, opt for a tooled bag, which are typically leather with raised designs. For a stylish statement, perhaps you’d like a bag with snakeskin texture or rhinestones.

2. Handbag style: next, determine what style of handbag you’re looking for. Textured bags are versatile enough to be worn to the office, around town or even out in the evenings, so choose your bag based on what you need it for. A hobo or cross body bag is perfect for a more casual look while totes and fashion bags look sophisticated and professional.

3. Know how to pair it: textured bags pair well with a variety of different styles. While they add some extra visual flair to more basic looks, like jeans and tees or simple sheath dresses, they can also be worn with other patterns and textures, such as a quilted bag with a tweed blazer. Get creative – almost anything goes!

Armed with all this knowledge, now the real fun begins:

Showcase your personality!

First, find something proportional

Make sure to get a bag that is relative to your size. If you’re petite, find a purse that doesn’t swallow you when you wear it.  See how the bag looks in the mirror while you’re wearing it to find out if it’s right for you.

Look for something adaptable

Be sure to opt for a handbag that is versatile. Black, brown or other neutral colors go with just about every outfit, as do shades of white, cream or even a metallic. These can add some brightness to your getup. Try not to buy a trendy shade. Classic colors will be longer lasting and wearable for years.

Don’t stray from color

Neutrals are a smart choice, but that doesn’t mean colored bags are off limits. In fact, a bold shade of red, cobalt blue or burnt orange can give your outfit that extra pop of color it needs. Pair a red clutch or satchel with a T-shirt and jeans and you’ll instantly feel more put together – even if you’re just heading to the grocery store. However, make sure your bag and your outerwear aren’t the same shade, so you won’t have to worry about hues clashing when getting dressed.

Personalize and accessorize your purse:

Keychains

Keychains can be totally grown-up and fun and add flair to your purse. Tassels come on keychains in every color and the key rings can be different kinds of metal, allowing you to personalize it to your style. Just attach a keychain to the zipper pull or handle and you’ve got a super cute place to put your keys and you won’t have to search for them at the bottom of your bag anymore. You can also try a keychain on the zipper pull of your wallet to make getting to your change pocket easier.

Jewelry

If you’re lucky, an older female relative may have passed on some beautiful clip-on earrings or fun necklaces you love but don’t want to wear. Hair clips are another great option – they come in so many fun colors and bejeweled designs. They’re perfect to clip to your purse. You could even use a bobby pin with decorative jewels to slip onto the edge of an external pocket or on a zipper pull. Attach a necklace to your purse handle for a personalized touch. It’s a great way to show some individuality in an unexpected place.

DIY: Do It Yourself!

Sometimes you end up with a bag you like but don’t love. Why not DIY? Use a glue gun to add studs, brooches, beads or buttons and you’ve got a totally revamped bag that fits your personal style. Ribbons are also a great way to add flair and function. Tie one around a broken zipper handle for an easy way to get into your bag. In a pinch, you can untie the ribbon from your purse and use it to hold back your hair! Talk about handy.

Scarves

Try a patterned silk scarf to add some flair to your everyday bag. Run the scarf through both handles and tie it into a bow. Those old floral scarves that your great aunt loved would dress up your going-to-work purse beautifully.

Comfort is key

Now you have LOTS of fun choices to make. All women are different when it comes to preferred styles. If you like options, then try a handbag that comes with many different straps so you can switch how to hold it whenever you want. At the end of the day, comfort is best of all.

Finally: if you like it, get it

Sometimes it’s best to trust your gut. If you see a bag with your name written all over it, don’t hold back! If it’s something you love, your confidence will shine through, and you’ll always look fashion forward.

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Published on Jun 17 2022

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