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How do I choose a summer handbag?

by Josie

I am a cool summer and tend to wear soft blues, blue-greens, greys and rose pinks when the weather is warmer, teamed with white or denim. I always have problems choosing a handbag, white ones look cheap, grey is dull, tan is too orange for my colouring. Suggestions please Jane. My daughter is also a cool summer and she has the same problem.

Jane's answer... Thanks for a great question Josie!

When you leave the house you should choose your handbag to complement your outfit, your body proportions and your personal style. The old rule of choosing your bag to match your shoes can be too matchy-matchy, unless your style personality, and therefore the rest of your outfit, is very classic.

However, it is a good idea to tie your handbag into your outfit in some way. These ways include...

  • Color

  • Texture theme

  • Pattern theme

  • Material type

In addition, the level of formality of your outfit and your handbag should be similar. For example, a more structured leather bag to go with a structured suit; a satin clutch to go with a dressy evening outfit.
And your bag should work with the style personality of your outfit (and therefore your style personality too).

Bearing all this in mind you can see that it is challenging to find just 1 handbag that works for every outfit, season and time of day! At the very least your handbag wardrobe should include 1 day and 1 evening bag. Or, better still, 1 bag for work, 1 for day casual and 1 for evening.

Evening bags and work bags (especially if your work attire is formal or semi-formal) are typically trans-seasonal. However, it's better to have different casual day bags for summer and winter, so that you can have lighter colors and materials for summer and darker colors and heavier fabrics for winter.

If you're going to go for the minimum number of bags go for neutral colors in your best color range, that don't stand out too much (so people don't realize you only have 1 or 2 bags).

Summer handbag ideas for cool summer season coloring

So, for your (and your daughter's) cool summer coloring (also referred to as cool and muted) I suggest the following (all examples from Marks and Spencer):

Light to medium neutral colors

Such as your lighter browns, taupes, greys and off-white. Or even a medium navy. To save these looking boring, look for bags with some texture, or a mix of texture and smooth. To prevent them looking cheap, look for good quality leather with good quality finishes.

how do I choose a summer handbag?how do I choose a summer handbag?how do I choose a summer handbag?

Other colors

You can also choose any of the other light to medium colors in your cool summer range. Muted sorbet colors such as icy lemon, light apple green, and creme-de-menthe should work well where the colors you say you tend to wear. You could also add a statement with one of your stronger, brighter colors, such as deep rose pink (see the example in evening bags below).

how do I choose a summer handbag?how do I choose a summer handbag?

Ideas for evening bags

For evening choose a clutch (with or without strap) in a metallic silver finish, or an off-white satin or silk finish. A white, and light grey snake skin print could also work well for you; or a floral pattern where the majority of colors are in your range; or a statement color like this deep rose pink one.

how do I choose a summer handbag?how do I choose a summer handbag?

Hopefully I've managed to give you some ideas!

Bending your color "rules"

Since a handbag is carried away from your face, you can choose a color outside of your best range. To make this work most successfully choose one with a matt or sheen surface (rather than shiny) in a medium-light to medium-dark contrast level to your outfit, with a fine texture. A color that is more cool than warm will also work best.

Other considerations when choosing a handbag

  • Choose a size appropriate for your body scale -- find out about body scale here

  • Where it comes on your body -- the aim of everyone is to balance to an hourglass body shape. If you have large hips don't wear a shoulder or cross-body bag that sits on your hips. If you have a large bust, don't carry your bag under your arm and, if it's on a strap, make sure it sits lower than you bust level. If you don't have much waist definition, don't carry your bag at that position

  • Practical size considerations -- will it fit what you'll typically carry in it? If you're not sure, try loading it with those items before you buy it to make sure

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I hope you'll share photos of your new bag
by: Jane of Style Makeover HQ

You're welcome Josie. So glad I could help!

With all the wonderful colors around at the moment you have some great choices.

I hope you'll share a photo of the handbag(s) you end up with. Perhaps with 1 or 2 of the clothes you'll wear it with in the photo? (Share any photos as a new style question and I'll merge them with this posting).

Thank you
by: Josie

Hi Jane

Thanks so much, that is really helpful advice and I can't wait to get shopping!


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