According to a recent survey of 2,000 women, buying a new handbag is the most satisfying purchase you can make! However, as we all know, it can also be one of the most daunting.
The joy we feel on plucking a shiny new shopper from its dust bag can only be overshadowed by discovering that it’s not big enough to house everything. The perfect bag not only has to hold everything we own, but go with everything we wear and stand the test of time.
Avoid the pitfalls with our guide to the five things you need to know before you buy a new bag…
1. Fit counts
It’s just as important to try on a new handbag as it is a pair of jeans. Does it slip over your shoulder easily? Make your favourite coat bunch unflatteringly? Will it go with your work and weekend wardrobes?
Don’t forget, different types of bags suit different body shapes. An undersized bag may make you appear larger by comparison, but a bulky tote which slots under your arm could add unwanted bulk to your waistline.
Pear-shaped ladies should opt for shorter shoulder straps, backpacks or handheld styles (avoid saddle bags if you want to minimise your own!), whilst apple shapes can add length with longer strap styles – try a bucket bag.
Ordering online? Look out for model images to check size and strap length.
Ochre Tassel Bucket Bag, R380, Next
2. It pays to be a little bolder
Black is a failsafe colour choice, but, if you’re after a bag you can tote all day, every day, consider tan, grey, navy or metallic tones – they’ll slot into your summer and winter wardrobes effortlessly.
Watch out for cream and white tones, though – colour transfer could well become the bane of your life.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with trends, either – simply choose wisely. Think classic with a twist: metallic ring handles and bucket bags are set to be future wardrobe classics.
Metallic Handle Tote Bag, R699, Mango
3. Size matters
Shopping for a bag? Take a tape measure – it’s the only way to be sure your precious cargo will fit (emergency banana and all).
Ordering online? Check the measurements – and the weight – you’d be surprised how much heft metal hardware can add. Measure your current handbag so you have a baseline from which to compare.
If you suffer from back or shoulder pain, however, now could be the time to consider downsizing. Be brave and limit the temptation to throw in everything but the kitchen sink ‘just in case’ and invest in a bag just big enough for (actual) essentials…
Towa Leather satchel R4 061, Louise Et Cie at Nordstrom
4. Be prepared to compromise
Consider the lifestyle you have, not just the lifestyle you think your dream bag will convey. Then split the difference.
Love ladylike top-handle handbags? Pick one which can be wiped clean with minimal effort and doubles up as a backpack or comes with a detachable shoulder strap.
Hirizin London Saffiano Tote Bag, R2400, Kurt Geiger at John Lewis
5. Shop around
Some of our favourite affordable stores now produce near-designer quality handbags, so there’s no need to spend a small fortune on a new bag.
Not convinced? Bag a bargain at Next with this Black Rope Handle Tote Bag for R657.
Black Rope Handle Tote Bag, R657, Next