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Handbags Buying Guide

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Have you found that, while it's all too easy to buy lots of handbags, it's not always simple to buy ones you'll want to use often? If so, then this buying guide is for you. Here's how to buy handbags that you'll love and that will fit your lifestyle.

Build a Handbag Wardrobe:

  1. Tote bags and shoppers: When you need to bring along many of your belongings, tote bags and shoppers are the best bags for you, as they often have a larger capacity than other handbags and a heavy-duty design. Tote bags and shoppers are available in several types of materials, often in canvas twill and leather, and usually have a square or rectangular shape. Some are open, while other totes have handy storage compartments for keys, cell phones, water bottles, and anything else you may need. Totes always have some sort of handle, and occasionally, the handles are long enough to use as a shoulder strap. Tote bags have one other special quality: The bigger the purse you carry, the smaller you look -- instant weight loss from your accessories!

    Where You'll Take a Tote Bag

    • On an airplane as a carry-on

    • To the beach with all of your gear

    • To work when you need to bring along a full day's supplies, including gym clothes for after work

    • Out shopping so you won't have to use any plastic bags

  2. Shoulder bags: Perfect for everyday, shoulder bags are the workhorses of a handbag wardrobe because they have straps long enough to go over your shoulder, thus freeing up your hands. Shoulder bags are often adjustable and can be worn against your hips or waist; many also have outside pockets and interior slots for organization. Shoulder bags are available in many different styles, like slouchy hobo bags, functional and necessary diaper bags, and all manner of luxurious designer handbags. With a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, closures, and designs, there's sure to be a shoulder bag that you'll love to bring with you.

    Where You'll Take a Shoulder Bag

    • To the store, with your wallet, cell phone, and keys tucked inside

    • To the movies with your friends (we won't tell if you sneak in your own candy!)

    • When you go out to eat at a casual restaurant or bar

    • To the office, but remember to choose a higher-quality material to maintain a professional look

  3. Satchels: Satchels are true handbags because the handles are short enough to hold it in your hands. You'll want to use these luggage-inspired purses to carry day-to-day necessities because they're available in a variety of sizes. With their wide, flat interiors and double handles, satchel bags have a classic look that never looks inappropriate. When you need a hand, satchel bags easily rest in the crook of your arm; if you pull the straps over your shoulder, your satchel tucks into your underarm. You can achieve the perfect laid-back look with jeans and a leather satchel.

    Where You'll Take a Satchel

    • On a date when you want a handbag with a ladylike look and plenty of storage

    • To a bar or club on girls' night out with your hottest party dress

    • To a party when you won't mind that all eyes will be on your handbag

  4. Evening bags: Evening bags, including clutch bags (which have no strap and you hold -- or "clutch" -- in your hand) and wristlets (which have a strap just long enough to hang over your wrist), are the bags you'll want for a special night out. With lovely details like beads and sequins and fine fabrics like metallics and satins, evening bags will complement your formal wear perfectly. You can choose between soft leather handbags or handbags with structured metal frames, depending on how formal your eveningwear is. If your evening bag has a handle, you can tuck it inside to transform it into a clutch bag; clutch bags can also be used as wallets inside larger bags during the day. Nothing says glamour and romance more than accessorizing with an evening bag.

    Where You'll Take an Evening Bag

    • To a holiday party when you're there to impress

    • To a fine restaurant when you're there with your special someone

    • To a wedding with a few tissues inside

    • To a cocktail party, where a cocktail ring-clad hand holding a clutch bag will be the perfect elegant look

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