Shopping for a new handbag is always exciting. Looking at great options and imagining yourself pairing them with your outfits – shopping is a fun slice of life. If you have the budget and ability, you can always buy multiple bags to add to your collection so that you can change up your bag with different outfits.
But if you want to make a bang for your buck, you have to be wiser with your choice, especially if you’re about to spend that budgeted, hard-earned money to treat yourself to a new bag. You don’t want to regret a purchase and keep it lying around in your closet unused. You have probably already experienced hits and misses with the things you purchased through the years, so to avoid buying a handbag you won’t use, make sure to follow these practical tips:
Decide on the size
The first thing to do is consider the size of the bag you need to buy. Think about the essentials you bring in your bag, and ensure the bag has enough room to accommodate them. If you buy a bag that is too big, things will get lost in it, but if it’s too small, you need to carry another bag to accommodate the item that doesn’t fit in it.
For example, you need a new bag to bring to work. Make sure it will fit your daily essentials, like a laptop (if you need to bring it daily), notebook, water bottle, maybe something to eat, makeup pouch, wallet, and more. If you need a laptop bag, make sure you know the size of your laptop so you can buy an appropriate-sized bag.
If you’re still okay with your work bag and what you need is a purse for going out, then think about your essentials – the stuff you always bring outside. For many, it includes a wallet, phone, keys, some makeup, tissues and wipes, and an umbrella (in rainy areas). Decide on a nice bag that can carry these all, plus a little extra space if you need to bring another stuff.
Choose a great material and quality
The material of your bag will determine not only its look but also its durability and functionality. When shopping, inspect the kind of material it has.
Most handbags are made of either genuine or faux leather. These two materials come in different price points and have different lifespans. Genuine leather is more expensive but has a long lifespan if treated properly. Generally, genuine leather becomes even more beautiful over time. It can be restored and repaired easily. Meanwhile, faux leather can be beautiful and cheaper, but it cannot be repaired when it shows cracks and peels. When it’s worn out, all you need to do is to replace them.
Besides the material, inspect the seams, stitching, and zippers. If there are signs of wear, tear, and weakness in the bag, you won’t probably get much mileage.
Decide on the color
This is one of the usual dilemmas women face when buying a bag. When you buy a purse, always think about your existing wardrobe and ensure it matches most of it well. If you buy a bag that doesn’t mesh well with your style, you will hardly use it or spend more money on a new wardrobe to find something to match it with.
You’ll be safe with black handbags because they can go with anything. Brown can also match well with most outfits. Cream, white, and beige are chic neutral colors that can go well with most clothes but consider the environment you will bring it to and your own clumsiness factor. A light-colored bag isn’t ideal for a polluted environment, and if you’re prone to spilling stuff inside and outside your bag. If you have little children who like to write on random items in the house, you may want to avoid a light-colored bag to avoid visible pen marks.
Can’t decide on a color that goes with all your outfits? Start with your hair color. This is a color that you never take off since you’re always wearing your hair. Your hair color is great for handbags, coats, shoes, and belts.
However, it’s also important to note that sometimes, a bright-colored handbag is just what your wardrobe needs to make your outfits pop. For instance, a red bag can make your outfits look rad if you’re always wearing black and gray.
Choose a timeless design
Trends come and go, but great designs are timeless. If you’re investing in a handbag you plan to use for a long time, make sure you choose a well-designed one. Decorations, designs, and even trendy colors can look dated in the next few years or so. If you want a bag that you can depend on for many years ahead, steer clear from:
- Bags with ruffles, rosettes, or overly feminine decorations – These might look cute today, but you’ll think, “Why?” a couple of months from now. If you like these details, go for bag charms and accessories that can be removed from the bag in case you grow tired of them.
- Loud and showy stitches and finishes – These things seldom stand the test of time. They can often distract, make flaws visible, or show more dirt. Bags with good design are subtle.
- Flashy and trendy colors – For a bag you want to use today, you may opt for bags in trendy colors. But if you want your bag to be usable years from now, stay away from them. They can become quickly outdated and mismatch your wardrobe in the future. Even if they are still in good condition, you may not want to use a bag that screams the era it was popular in.
- Excess hardware – It may look pretty, but there will come a situation when you don’t want chains ratting as you walk while carrying your bag. Decorative rings, chains, and clasps are best kept minimal. If the bag you choose has these things, make sure they’re detachable, so you can remove them when they’re not fashionable.
- Big logos and all-over print – Even when it’s an expensive logo printed big – you may find yourself choosing not to use that bag in the future because you got shy about being thought of as a show-off. Definitely avoid prints that are flowers or animal prints; these prints can look dated a few years later.
Make it versatile
In choosing an all-around handbag, versatility is key. You must be able to transform your look from a casual to an evening look without much effort.
There may be bags for specific purposes (such as laptop backpacks and an evening clutch bag), but for your everyday bag that you plan to wear with everything everywhere, it must have a versatile design.
- It needs to be dressy enough to be suitable for your work attire.
- It must be soft enough so you can pair it with your casual outfits.
- It must match or be complementary to your wardrobe’s color palette so that it won’t clash with your outfits.
Make sure it’s comfortable to carry
A purse is meant to be carried around, so you must consider how you can be comfortable carrying your handbag. Like clothing, your handbag must be at the comfort level that you’re happy with.
Do you prefer to carry all your belongings in a single bag? Do you prefer carrying your bag on your shoulder (or both) or in the crook of your arm? Also, consider the length of the handles and how it coincides with how you like to carry your bag.
When shopping, try it on. Does it slide off your shoulder easily, or does it push your arm out uncomfortably? Is carrying it by the handles your style?
You may love the bag’s look, but if it isn’t comfortable to carry around you, you’ll start to dislike it quickly.
Make sure it’s not too heavy
Leather bags are great – they are durable, they age well, and they look beautiful. However, some of them can be very heavy, even if they are empty. If you’re using public transportation and have to lug around the bag to places, then you’d later regret getting a heavy bag. Before buying, test it out and notice how heavy the bag is. The extra metal details are sometimes pretty, but they can weigh down a bag and make it impractical to use.
Choose one with the right pockets
Before buying a purse, consider how your belongings will be handled inside. The compartments and pockets that may satisfy you will depend on the things you put into your bag. If you carry a variety of stuff, you may like a handbag with a central divider pocket, but if you put larger items inside, this central pocket might be a nuisance for you.
If you’re looking for a clutch or evening bag, you may want a lot of card pockets for taking your credit card and some IDs like your driver’s license.
If you’re a city gal or are usually around many people, make sure your bag is fastened by zippers to avoid spilling the contents or stolen belongings.
For more ideas when it comes to purchasing handbags, you may also read our Guide to Picking a New Handbag.