Handbag Tips

How do you decide which bag to carry for the day? What are the essential bags? How can you change bags so often? Today I will answer more of your questions and show you examples. Accessories can upgrade even the most basic combination of a white tee and jeans. It is good to have a light and a dark color bag for daytime, a small one for evenings, and a casual tote for busy days or vacations. Neutral colors with subtle or no logos and minimal hardware are the most versatile.

TopJeansShoes – Similar BagWatchBracelet (Use the code SAS10 for $10 off any one item at Beauty in Stone Jewelry.)

The bag and shoes can relate by texture, color, or attitude, but the bag can also be a completely unrelated pop of color. For example, I love to wear an orange bag with a navy top and white jeans. On the other hand, a dressy pair of heels with a casual canvas bag would be jarring since they are from different worlds.

Similar Items – ShoesBagSunglassesNecklace (Use the code SAS10 for $10 off any one item at Beauty in Stone Jewelry.)

A similar pair of textured sandals complement a fun bag with various colors and textures, but you could also carry the bag with plain tan or nude shoes.

Similar Items – ShoesNo-Show SocksToteEarrings (Use the code SAS10 for $10 off any one item at Beauty in Stone Jewelry.)

A canvas tote and sneakers are perfect for market days and lots of errands.

Similar Items – ToteShoesBracelet

The casual attitude of the loafers blends well with the colors and textures of the tote.

Storing everything I usually have in my day bag within zippered pouches makes it easy to change to a smaller bag. Sometimes all I need is my cardcase, phone, glasses, and lip balm. A similar wallet is here.

Zippered leather pouch here. Other zippered pouches here. A small card case is here. I bought my black leather phone holder/wallet from Verizon. The skinny blue bag holds ink pens.

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  1. I’ve been carrying little pouches with stuff in my purse too. Makes it so easy to change purses. Been doing this for a long time. And I really think I’ve read it in your blog in the past! Grateful for this idea.

  2. I change my purses often as they can really “make” the outfit as a decorative, functional accessory. But I’ve noticed as I’ve “grown up” that I prefer smaller & lighter weight purses that can be carried cross-body, particularly when I am walking some distance, so as not to have extra weight on my shoulders or deal with the slipping off of the bag, all of which puts extra stress on my back/hips. I use soft microfiber pouches (weightless) for eyeglasses which can also be used to clean them and I prefer small wallets or even just a card case (so much is card or apple watch pay these days). I try to keep my lipsticks and pill box in the zippered compartment, just so they don’t open and spill. I love this idea of the pouches–I have several–and will try using them as organizers in my bigger purses–I just hope I can remember what is in each one!

  3. I almost exclusively use attractive backpack purses for the past 20 plus years. It’s kind of my signature “thing.” The style might not be chic or cool but keeping my hands free to peruse merchandise or hold my phone is important to me. I mostly buy neutral colors but branch out occasionally to fun colors. Me doing “me.”

  4. Susan, I love you in this white top! At the beginning of this season I was reluctant to embrace the new “flutter” sleeves, for lack of a better word. But have found a couple that have longer sleeves that look better on my body. Thanks to all of your tips, I instinctively knew what worked for me. Always enjoy the handbag lessons also. Have a great week!
    Thank you.

  5. You had me at “handbag tips”! All of your choices are lovely and appropriate for the outfits. The older I get, the less I carry the huge bags, instead opting to transfer what is needed to a small to medium bag. I still have one of my first “pocketbooks’, which is a white patent little Scotty dog, circa 1950.

    Love the top with the eyelet sleeves! It appears to have slightly square neckline. Lovely for warmer weather.

  6. I really like your posts. The pics are really helpful. You are awesome. I really like that top also but looking at it on the website it looks to have really wide sleeves. Please comment. Thank you.

  7. I love this post. Since I love handbags, I change them a lot and I adore the idea of keeping things in zippered pouches to make changing the bag much easier. Never thought of this. Thanks.

  8. I have lots of handbags in all shapes and sizes and have to remember to use them and not just grab my regular old black one. Lol. I prefer ones that have a shoulder strap or can hang on the shoulder. I love your red bag Susan.

  9. Ever since I was a teen, I have always carried small purses (with adjustable cross-body straps, leaving my hands free).
    These days, all my purse carries is my phone, a man’s billfold, a comb & alcohol in a mini-atomizer. My keys attach on the exterior zipper with a mini carabiner.
    Nothing more needed!
    For travel, my passport goes in an under-clothing moneybelt.
    Love your look with the athletic shoes!

  10. Like you, I change my bags to harmonise with each daily outfit. The bags are copies of Hermes Picotin bags and come with a pop-out quilted pouch with handy little pockets so all I have to do is lift the pouch from one bag to another. I have 5 bag colours and they blend with everything and are as dressy or casual as one wants. I originally bought one because it was the only bag that fitted my 3 pairs of necessary glasses with ease.
    As you say, it’s important to have a good evening clutch – I have a few because until Covid closed our theatres, I was a regular ballet attendee. And I do have a camel leather crossover bag for travelling (it fits as much as the Picotins do). But I’m not really a fan of cross-overs except for the travel security POV and husband and self only travel locally now.
    PS: I do love that white shirt and may I say, Susan, how lovely it is to see how freshly ironed your wardrobe always is. It’s such a presentation skill that so many forget.
    Cheers and thank you.

  11. Thank you for these tips on handbags and shoes complementing each other. So helpful when trying to pull an outfit together. I also need to embrace the purse pouches. What a great way to keep things organized and ready for a quick switch to another purse.
    You continue to enlighten and educate me!

  12. Hi Susan, thanks for the ideas. I always store a lipstick, lip balm and eye brow pencil in a small zippered bag so I can find those items easily in my purse. It also helps when changing purses. I like the idea of a little pouch to hold pens as they always seem to slip into the bottom of my purse. Thanks for the tips and hi to Mr. Mickey.

  13. Billie Bidwell, what is your source for longer “flutter” sleeves? I could go with those, more so than with shorter sleeves. Thanks,

  14. I am an avid fan of your blog, although I admit that I am a voyeur and have never reached out to you before!
    I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your content. Your text is well written and your photos are great, very illustrative.
    I do have to tell you, however, that this is the first time I disagree with you! Well, not totally disagree, but I feel that you are off target on this topic. You didn’t even mention crossover bags in your latest post. Let me tell you, they are a godsend. Number one, they take away from unnecessary weight on the shoulders, and in the case of city dwellers (me) they are much safer since they can’t be nabbed (stolen) easily. Plus they have the added advantage of the contents being in front of you, not just for protection-sake but that makes them easily accessible, whether it be for a tissue or a lipstick. If you don’t own a crossover, I highly recommend you add one to your repertoire! It might become your new go-to accessory! Keep up the good work. I LOVE your blog!

  15. This why you are my favorite classy lady! I have been using your tips for awhile now and hand down your ideas to my daughters and grand daughters. So keep them coming and stay safe!

  16. I love the practicality of doing this and would love to find similar bags that all looked good together. But…don’t you find these add a lot of extra weight to your purse(s)? I think I will go on the hunt for some fabric bags of some sort; although I think they would be easy enough to make and then just close with a button and loop closing. Great idea, which I probably won’t do! Ha! But, maybe I will!

    Thank you for all your great suggestions!

  17. Thanks for the timely tips, love the bags and shoes. Susan, where do you store your out of season shoes and purses? My sister buys individual plastic containers but I don’t have the storage space. Thanks again, enjoy your blogs.

  18. Susan, wonderful post as always. I love the idea of zippered pouches in a purse. Transferring loose items from one purse to another is just extra time and hassle.
    This is off the topic of today but something I wonder about and maybe something you can help with in a post. I love the way you look so polished with blazers, however, for some reason blazers rarely look good on me. I am normal weight, short-waisted, longer legs and fairly tall at 5’ 8”. I have more squared shoulders but my hips are in proportion with them. I read long ago that if you have more rounded eyebrows and softer, smaller features then the tailored lapels of a blazer would not be flattering. I don’t know if this is why they are not flattering on me. I also have short hair and don’t know if this plays any role. Also, I love how you look in large scarves and how they add style and color. However, they seem to overwhelm my face and when they are a floral pattern seem to age me quite a bit. Any ideas on this? I so wish these things would flatter me as they do you. Maybe other women have the same problem and would like to look as polished as you with substitute items you might be able to suggest.

  19. My favorite thing to buy is a good handbag. It is also my favorite item to gift. I so enjoyed this post. Like you my go to is A Dooney bag. I notice you own several. I do too, and it is the brand I gift most often. I don’t think you can beat the quality. I so enjoy all of your helpful information. You and Mr. Mickey are a classy couple. Enjoy your Spring and Summer.

  20. I love that you change bags to go with your outfits! It looks so polished and helps validate why I hang on to my favorite purses but that brings up the one problem I struggle with constantly. Do you find yourself changing wallets all the time too in order to fit the size of your handbag? I am in search of the perfect wallet, one that holds all the essentials but isn’t too big. Can anyone help me? Please!

  21. Susan, thank you for another wonderful post. Your tip about using pouches is so helpful! I’m curating my post-retirement wardrobe as I will be retiring later this year. I recently had surgery and cannot handle buttons or zippers and it will probably be mid-June or later before I am back into my regular wardrobe. I would appreciate any suggestions you have for pull on pants for casual wear. It’s getting too hot for joggers so I’ll looking for options for my daily walks and errands. Thanks so much for your honesty and sincerity in your articles.

  22. Susan
    It is unclear how many pairs of no show socks you receive for $12.00? Is it only one pair?
    Thank you

  23. Thank you for the tips on coordinating handbags. It was perfect timing for me as I had received a beautiful orange bag but wasn’t sure how to coordinate it with an outfit. Your suggestion of a navy top with white pants sounds like a winner! I’m going to try that. Thank you Susan!

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.