3 Must-Have Handbags

It’s been a long time since I had just three handbags in my closet, but I definitely think it’s possible. For the minimalist, you can cover most occasions, formal to casual, everyday to special events, with just three bags. Is it possible you’ll find yourself in need of a fourth or fifth at some time? Of course. But if you’re just starting to pay attention to accessories in your closet, or if you’re doing a whole wardrobe overhaul, three should be enough to get you started. Here they are:


Neutral Colored Clutch

The clutch is for special occasions–weddings, parties, galas–anything for which there is a dress code. Normal-sized purses are obtrusive on your carefully curated outfit, so you want something small that blends seamlessly with your ensemble, or complements it. Also, presumably you don’t need much in a handbag when you’re at a special event–lipstick and concealer to touch up, ID and cash, keys, phone, maybe some gum or mints? You don’t need a big bag stuffed with your day planner, tablet, cough drops, grocery store lists, and tissue.


I like a sleek, stream-lined clutch. Forever 21 is a great place to buy clutches–they have an assortment of both on-trend, and classic silhouettes, surprisingly enough. I love this Glittered Diamond Clutch – $19.80. Reviewers note that it’s very long, so be sure to check out the measurements. It’s available in both gold and black. If you don’t typically wear navy or brown, go for the black. If you do wear navy and brown, among other colors, get the gold. Another nice option is the Jessica McClintock Black & White Clutch – $51.99 ($70). It features a black and white checked pattern and gold-tone hardware and detail (even though it looks sort of silver in the photos). I’m a total sucker for these structured, framed clutches. They seem to combine the best of retro and modern details.


Small to Medium Sized Purse

This is a purse that you want to have for travel. You really don’t need a huge bag when you’re touring Boston or jetting off to Jamaica for some fun in the sun. This should be a small to medium size, just enough to fit wallet, phone, wet wipe or tissues, small amount of cosmetics, and maybe a small sheaf of papers (for instance, maps or brochures that will help you play the tourist). You should be able to pack this bag in a suitcase, or into your carry-on luggage. This is also a bag you can use for quick errands to the grocery store or heading out to the gym or going to a concert. Comfort and accessibility are key. I highly recommend a crossbody bag for this purpose.


Crossbody bags should be comfortable and allow you to forget about the fact that you’re carrying your valuables on you, while still keeping them secure. Fossil is a great all-around company. Great watches, great bags like the Fossil Marlow Crossbody – $117.99 ($158). This lemony bag is 100% leather and wears slim on the body. That means you don’t have to worry about bulkiness or discomfort while you’re on the go. A vegan (and cheaper) alternative is the light blue Gleeful Gatherer Bag – $39.99. This small purse is a minty blue, and features a darling brass buckle. Finally, the Patricia Nash ‘Marciano’ Leather Crossbody Bag – $128 has some amazing tooling detail (that’s the raised pattern on the leather) and comes in a trapezoid shape. If your style is hippie, peasanty, and laid-back, this bag would be a beautiful choice for you.


Big Handbag

This is the everyday bag. You grab it on the way out the door without thinking; it has three different kinds of lip gloss, an assortment of receipts, your wallet, keys, cell phone, a handful of bobby pins, reminder notes to yourself, an Entertainment Weekly, a Kindle, a bag of almonds, and who knows what else. Most women end up with a big ole’ bag that can hold everything they might find themselves in need of. BUT, if you’re more likely to carry the small or medium size purse previously discussed every day, then this purse is great as a weekender bag for road trips and overnights, or as a carry-on for plane trips.


Often these large bags are called “shoppers” as is the case with the Fossil Austin Shopper – $248. This is a pretty minimalist bag–no lining, not a ton of pockets or separators. I love the key detail over the leather latch. Besides pink, it’s also available in black, brown, white, and blue. A more economical option is the Jennifer Lopez Agatha tote – $59.40 ($99) from Kohl’s. Regardless of how you feel about Jennifer Lopez’s talent, she’s done a pretty good job with her Kohl’s brand. Surprisingly elegant, easy-to-style pieces at a good price point. This faux leather bag features sectioned panels and a textured surface, along with a drawstring top.

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