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Designer Handbags Are the Perfect Addition to Any Outfit

Introduction: Making it Work

Whether dressing it up or dressing it down, the best way to change up an outfit is with accessories. One well-cosen scarf, pair of sunglasses, or necklace can completely transition an outfit and make it easy to go from day into night without any elaborate costume changes. But even more important than that, for most women, including the rich and the famous, it's simply not possible to wear an outfit once and throw it out. Being able to mix and match isn't just about changing it up with clothing--it's also about knowing when to throw in a great accessory to completely shift or transform a look.  

And while women might often go right to jewelry or shoes as the cornerstones of changing up a tired old outfit, one of the best things to add to the mix is actually something it's likely difficult to leave home without: a handbag.  

Bags as Accessories  

Most fashion-forward women already know the secret of having lots of handbags to choose from--that's why their closets are packed with them! But there's definitely a lot more to handbags than meets the eye. For instance, a casual looking outfit can turn into something more just by picking up a slightly more elegant clutch purse. Want to look truly downtown chic, but not quite there with the choice of shoes and clothes? Getting a large, chic looking satchel will totally transform you into East Village bliss. Need to look like you power lunch with the best of them? A simple dress paired with a stylish handbag has you set in most major cities around the world.  

Just like a single piece of art or furniture can really tie an entire room together, knowing which bag to choose for an outfit can really make things perfect. It's such an important part of dressing for success to have a number of handbags to choose from, but something that so many women don't learn how to do until much later. Just think about bags like shoes: would you only wear one pair of shoes for an entire year, regardless of the occasion? The answer is likely no, so if that's the attitude happening with bags, honey, it is time for a change.  

Choosing Wisely  

While knock-offs are easy to spot and regrettable to buy, the biggest mistake that women make is thinking to only look at the big names. Most up-and-coming designers, including student designers, are making bags that are just as chic and hot. Especially in larger cities with fashion schools, and abroad in countries where skillfully working with leather isn't a dead art, finding a great handbag is easy.  

After hitting the boutiques and hitting the fashion schools, it's also great to check out some of the more reputable vintage stores. Even if you don't shop vintage, it's great to do some browsing, see what's really being pushed as a hot style, and then head to a trusted department store or medium-level designer and see if the influence is easy to spot. Find a nice and unassuming new bag with some characteristics of a hot piece of vintage design, and it is possible to stretch looks for a whole lot longer. Sometimes, buying new is even less expensive than buying vintage, especially when it's a well-designed handbag.  

But for some reason, knowing how to shop for handbags seems to cause a little bit of trouble for women, who end up with closest full of great bags that just don't seem to go with anything. There are a couple of ways to solve this problem.  

Choose a handbag like choosing an important item of clothing. Just like there are crucial key pieces that everyone woman should own to wear: a little black dress, a crisp white button-up shirt, a classy cashmere cardigan, there are different styles of bags that should be in every woman's closet as well. A dainty clutch fit for a cocktail party is not the same as a bag to go to a job interview with, and a durable and classic satchel will simply not make it if there's a more formal dinner happening.  

And just like with any other piece of clothing, don't impulse buy if it doesn't fit. Sometimes, a bag looks great in the store, but paired with a person and that person's style, it's just never going to work. It is possible for something that is "one size fits all" to not actually fit all. Just like with hats, sunglasses, and jewelry, don't assume that the bag actually works just because it's not as obvious as an ill-fitting pair of jeans.   

Some Pairing Tips  

Just like a fine wine is made even better by the perfect cheese to accompany its flavor, knowing some secrets about which handbags look particularly classy next to which outfits is half of the battle. Even more important, if women can identify the most likely occasions they experience, it's that much simpler to make outfits that will last with the perfect bags, too. For example, women who head to many formal gatherings will naturally need more than a couple of bags that can work the nightlife scene. Likewise, if a woman is a jet-setting bohemian, it's going to make more sense to focus on a bag large enough to hold all personal effects but not ugly enough to drag down a great outfit.  

Identifying the most frequent occasions in one's life makes figuring out handbag distribution that much easier. Lots of dinners, cocktail parties, and galas? Then go with more than one smart black clutch. Perhaps one that's more low-key, and one that's more outgoing, to alternate as one sees fit. For women who spend more time going from fast-paced work environments to occasional dinners and meetings, a classier, equestrian-themed bag is often the best ticket, sometimes with a little bit of fringe, other times with buckles to dress it up.  

Putting It All Together  

Once women figure out which occasions call for which sorts of bags, shopping for more handbags is a lot easier, and closet space is more likely to be occupied with items that actually see the light of day, rather than seasonal impulse buys. Making smart, fashionable purchases is actually the best way to stretch one's budget for clothing and accessories  

And that's what successful fashion truly is: looking great, feeling great, and bringing it all together. Because it's easy to buy fashion, but it's much more difficult to buy style.