Handbag Guidelines for Spring and Summer
By: Sharon Mosley
Why do we love to shop for a new handbag? Let me count the ways. You don’t have to try them on under fluorescent lights. You don’t have to even be the “right” size. You can instantly feel fashion forward with the latest chic clutch or trendy tote. And if you’re not sure what style or color you want to buy, well, you can always come back for more.
But there are a few guidelines to finding a handbag that will flatter your body type, says fashion expert Amy Goodman, author of “Wear This, Toss That” (Simon and Schuster, $27).
“Among those who have ‘the bag bug,” I’m surprised by the number of people who wear them all wrong,” she says. But although she cautions that your bag and body shape shouldn’t match, there are a few tips she has for finding the handbag that will complement your own body style whether you’re tall, petite or curvy.
Here are a few of Goodman’s handy tips:
—If you’re tall and thin, Goodman recommends considering an unstructured, slouchy bag. Your bag should hit anywhere from the waist to slightly below the hip. And since you have “the luxury of vertical space” to work with, choose a medium to larger unstructured bag.
She cautions tall women to avoid a bag that fits in the crook of the armpit that just emphasizes their height and “makes your legs look like beanpoles.” Instead, “if you are tall, you can pull off bags with long straps, as long as the purse isn’t tiny — that just makes you appear lanky.”
Taller women should also avoid top handle bags with a structured frame and rigid edges which “produces a stark overall look and creates too many angles when juxtaposed against a tall frame.” Instead, she suggests choosing a rounded or trapezoid satchel with soft curves for better balance.
—Petite women should consider handbags that elongate their bodies but not overwhelm them, according to Goodman. “Think proportionally smaller, and don’t venture bigger than a medium-size handbag. With your body type, bag shape is less of an issue, so you can embrace a round or slouchy bag.”
The bag should hit anywhere from under your arm to the hollow of your waist. Goodman also suggests choosing thinner, more delicate straps. Steer clear of overly long body bags with chunky straps. “They will make it look like the bag is taking you for a walk, as opposed to the other way around,” she says.
—Curvy women should stick to handbags whose length hits the smallest point of their curves, below the bust and above the hips, says the fashion expert. “A bag with handles that barely clears the arm will get lost in the armpit. A shoulder bag with long straps is no better because the bag’s body will hit at the hip and make you look wider.”
Instead look for medium to larger bags with structure, form and stiffer fabrics, such as leather, canvas, nylon or woven straw. And you’re in luck this spring, because the structured bags are topping the trend lists.
Goodman advises curvy women to avoid slouchy bags that “look like cushioned pillows, round and duffle-shaped bags, structure-less satchels, oval handles and super thin chain straps.
TOP HANDBAG TRENDS FOR SPRING AND SUMMER
—Structured top-handle bags
—Colorful prints and patterns
—Reptile Skins in bold colors
—Clutch bags in metallic lace
—Bejeweled and beaded evening bags
—Folded portfolios in soft leather
—See-through handbags in Plexiglas or Lucite
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