4 Purses Every Woman Should Own — and When to Wear Them

When my husband and I got married, I was totally not a purse girl. I owned one purse and used it for all occasions — school, dates, church, girls’ nights, etc. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the purpose and value of having a few different bags for different occasions. I now own a ton of bags, and although I’m not saying you should run out and buy 20 different purses, there are four bags that I think every woman should have in her closet. Just like the right jewelry and shoes, the right purse is a great outfit completer. And if you’re struggling to put together good outfits, a new bag or two might help do the trick. Let me show you which ones are the important ones and when you should wear them.

1. A Crossbody Bag


Crossbody bags are hugely popular right now and are great for a number of reasons. They’re often a medium size, which allows you to carry your essentials without hefting around a giant purse, the style is easily dressed up or worn very casually, they’re easy to carry since you wear them across your body, and they come in a million different varieties. They are a must for the modern woman. I own five or six different crossbody bags in various colors and styles including neon yellow, cobalt blue, light pink, white, and this quilted black one. But if you’re going to get just one, go for a normal size (probably 8″x 10″ or slightly smaller), and choose a neutral color like black, brown, or white.

When to wear it: This bag can be worn day or night. It’s a great date night purse when you don’t need very many things and want something that’s sort of a medium level of dressiness. And depending on the style you buy, it can be a great smaller day bag (although for me with two kids, I need something bigger than this during the day).

Get a similar black quilted bag from Nordstrom for $28 … or try this brown front-flap one from Tilly’s for $43


2. An Oversized Bag


The oversized bag is my go-to bag that I use all day-every day, fits everything, and is easy to carry. This size of bag is great for traveling, great for moms with kids, great for working women — basically, it’s an essential for every woman no matter her life stage. If you’re only going to get one, buy one that’s neutral. For me, brown goes with everything I own (including black), so it’s the perfect color. But black, metallic, gray, or navy would also be great neutral choices. Also, since this is an everyday bag, it’s worth it to invest in a good quality one since cheap ones will fall apart quickly with so much use.

When to wear it: This is the kind of bag you can wear anywhere casually. To the grocery store, the park, the doctor’s office — you name it. However, this is not an evening bag. Oversized is casual. Small is almost always dressy.

Get this one from lily-jade for $275.


3. A Clutch


Clutches are a style of bag that I never understood until a few years ago, but honestly they are an essential. You don’t need more than one or two of them in your closet, but for those dressy occasions, they are the only appropriate bag. Do not go to a formal event with a bag slung over your shoulder — it’s just not appropriate. Clutches come in a variety of shapes and sizes — some only big enough to carry your drivers license, credit card, and some lipgloss, and others big enough to be a regular purse. Honestly the size doesn’t matter, just as long as it’s a clutch. I love having a few fun ones, like this beaded one, but if you’re just going to buy one, go for something medium to small in a very versatile color or pattern so you can easily wear it with all your dressy clothes — snakeskin, metallic, black, brown, white … you get the idea.

When to wear it: Like I briefly mentioned above, these are appropriate to wear to weddings, nice dinners, and with any kind of formal dress (wherever you might be wearing it).

Get this beaded one at Lulu*s on sale for $36 … or try this snakeskin one from Express for $29.90.


4. A Tote Bag

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These are definitely the cheapest of the four, and obviously the most casual, but they are great to have in your closet for those super casual days when you need to tote around a lot of things. I love all the fun tote bags out there with cute sayings, fun patterns, or pretty paintings on them. There’s no rules when you buy a tote bag, so get whatever one you want!

When to wear it: I use this type of bag for carrying a picnic lunch, library books, or groceries. It’s also great to use on a casual day if you want to mix up your look.

Try one of these darling styles at Boden for $23.

What are your must-have bags?

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