Fashion For Real Women

Buying A Handbag?

Here's What to Look For

What should you look for when buying a handbag?

While many fashionistas would say that the designer label is the most important consideration, you and I are smarter than that. Yes, some designers do have cool, functional handbags, but there's a lot more at stake here than the name on the outside. After all, you "wear" your handbag every day, so like everyday shoes, it makes sense to invest wisely.

If you don't have a lot of time to think about this accessory every day--and most women don't--then your best bet is to opt for basic styles in neutral colors. In fact, if you build your wardrobe around three or four primary colors, then you'll need fewer handbags to see you through. You can then spend a lot of money on quality pieces that will last you for many years.

Here are some guidelines to get the most for your money:

1. While matching handbag to shoe color is no longer a "do-or-die" rule, they should be in the same family of colors (rust handbag, brown shoes, or gray handbag, black shoes, for example) and the handbag should harmonize with the colors of your outfit.

2. The personality of the handbag should be compatible with the mood of your clothes-sporty with sporty, business with business, romantic with romantic, etc.

3. Leather is the best choice for year-round use. Warm weather alternatives include a neutral-colored canvas or straw bag, both of which work well with a variety of shoe colors.

4. Make sure the bag you're considering will hold all of your normal contents. If in doubt, empty the purse you're carrying into the bag you're considering to check its capacity before you buy.

A straw bag is perfect for warm weather

5. Know the store's return policy. If, after considering all the criteria listed above, the bag still doesn't work for you, you'll want to be able to return it.

Whatever you do, DO consider your lifestyle when investing in a handbag. There's nothing worse than buying something on impulse and then having it sit in your closet for years to come. Take care of your investment with regular care, and replace zippers and snaps as needed. Your local shoe repair shop should be able to help you with this.

So what's the bottom line?

THINK before investing in a new bag, particularly if it's a designer handbag. It's the only way to justify the expense.


Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of Accessory Magic, an ebook that shows women how to use their fashion accessories to define their style and stretch their budgets. Visit her online at .

 Accessory Magic shows you how to buy a handbag

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