You’re rushing through the house. Big meeting at the office. You needed to leave 5 minutes ago. You decide to grab your power blue blazer at the last minute. Then you reach for your favorite taupe high heels. You’re ready to take this one on. Ack, you think. Do I need to change my handbag? Is it supposed to match? Definitely not supposed to match? Supposed to compliment? I don’t have time for this!
Today’s Fashion Friday tackles the modern day dilemma of what to do about your professional shoes and handbags. Long gone are the days of ’80s matching suits and heels and purses. (Thank heavens!) But I’m often asked the question about whether you still need to change handbags based on what you’re wearing (clothes/shoes).
I used to do that. I’d keep a few handbags in the rotation for work. But post-kids, it’s all I can do to remember to grab my handbag before running out of the house.
My recommendation for the woman who can’t, won’t, or doesn’t want to regularly change the work handbags they carry is two-fold: (1) invest in an excellent versatile staple handbag, and (2) undertake a cold eyes review of your wardrobe, clothes AND shoes, to understand what makes the most sense.
If you regularly wear bright color in your work attire as I do, then you shouldn’t add both bright shoes and a handbag. It’s too much. If you regularly wear neutrals (grays, navys, blacks, taupes) in your clothing wardrobe, you can go bolder in both handbag and shoe and they can be different. The key in selecting colors is to stay away from anything to seasonal/trendy (think Malibu Barbie pink which was everywhere in the fall but not a wise or classic choice) and stay away from anything which easily clashes with other color (certain greens, reds and oranges are where you see the most conflict).
My favorite work bag for years was a gorgeous caramel-colored Kate Spade oversized tote my hubby bought me. It went with EVERYTHING. No matter the color or pattern on my shoe or suit, the bag worked. Now that I write about it, it makes me want another one (I truly wore it out).
Since then, I’ve gone bolder. I swap between a deep eggplant traditional Kate Spade box purse and a medium blue large leather shoulder bag in which I can also throw my laptop for work trips. The great things about both is they work with almost any color I wear. Blue is a tremendously versatile color and the eggplant bag is so deep in color it looks neutral.
If you and I were out shopping, these are my picks from what’s out there now, with the caveat that the bags are most certainly investment pieces:
1. For The Girl Who Wears Color:
Either this Zac Posen luscious neutral double-handled satchel or this gray Michael Kors satchel. (And y’all, every handbag I wanted to show you was a Chloe handbag – do you know how much these suckers are?!?! I didn’t even bother showing you because it’s not fair to see a handbag that gorgeous and know you’re never going to get within 10 feet of one) Keep in mind, if you are petite, you may need to go a touch smaller so you don’t overwhelm your frame.
Pair one of these all season neutral bags with a colored pump in a deep versatile color so can wear greens or blues or pinks – whatever scarf or blazer or shift catches your fancy in the morning. The Marc Fisher stacked heels come in over a dozen colors, including this berry, but avoid the thick heels if you struggle with thicker ankles or calves. Also in berry (as well as an awesome herringbone pattern!), are these lace up adorned pumps with a lower, and narrower, heel. Or you can go with a bold black pump which has a fun accessory like this oversized half bow.
And if you’re a no go for heels at the office, I’m a huge fan of animal print flats like these:
2. For The Girl Who Wears Neutrals:
Note, the shoe and handbag do not have to match and, in fact, should not match. The only thing I can’t do yet wear together is black and navy. I realize that’s old-fashioned, but I’ll never recommend it. Too often it looks like you tried to match but “just” missed. Well, and of course, avoid obvious color clashes (think pink dress with orange handbag and red shoe – ACK!). But outside of that, have fun! Go nuts! Experiment.
I normally wouldn’t spend on a Tory Burch, but this one is marked down nearly 40% and is the perfect bright blue your neutral wardrobe needs. It is such a versatile color and designers are using it in handbags and shoes alike. Or if you’re anything like me and have to constantly throw your laptop in your handbag (I try to avoid multiple bags), this Lodis in red is sharp and clean but sure to brighten up your wardrobe (just don’t wear it with the red pumps below!).
If you do not run out and buy this “eggplant” Bella Vita number, I don’t know what I’m going to do. This shoe takes the cake. I love it so much that I had to hide my credit card. It comes in other colors, but this purple number is the golden ticket to livening up your wardrobe. The next shoe can marry with most anything – save pinks and burgundys. And in a walking work environment like mine, this kitten heel is definitely a plus. Red pumps are hard, absolutely, but when it’s tailored and not stacked or high, it looks professional not street corner. And if you absolutely cannot dive into color, try a great pattern like the one in these classic Nine West heels.
The key to the handbag – shoe dilemma is complementing colors and patterns. You DON’T match! Just avoid clashing and go experiment (and send pics!).