The perfect purse - How to pick a handbag that matches your outfit and body type

The perfect purse - How to pick a handbag that matches your outfit and body type

Matching a purse to your outfit and body type

The days of matching your handbag and shoes are over. And good riddance. Who can afford purses to match all those shoes! Still, accessories are key to looking well put together. The guidelines below will help you select the right handbag for your outfit and body type.

Handbag function

When choosing a purse, you must first ensure it provides the functionality you require. For instance, is it big enough to carry what you need? Is it sturdy enough to hold what you need? If it is carried on the shoulder, does it sit well and stay on? Can it be securely closed to protect contents?

Choosing a purse based on the environment and occasion

Tan purse with neutral-colored outfitConsider the environment and occasion when selecting your purse. As a rule, small bags are more sophisticated (and less functional) while larger bags are more appropriate for casual events.

Purses for shopping excursions

For shopping trips, an everyday purse is fine. Oversized bags go great with casual shoes, shorts, and t-shirts while crossbody bags are compact and lightweight. Even duffel bags or oversize hobo bags make wonderful purses for trips to the shopping mall.

Purses for a work environment

Handbags for a work environment typically require more functionality while maintaining a professional look. Tote bags or satchels with compartments look good with office attire like high-waists pants and cardigans while still providing excellent carrying capacity. Briefcase bags are an option for a sophisticated look. In a work environment, avoid flashy leather bags. Colored bags are acceptable but avoid unprofessional glitter and glam.

Purses for the beach

When it comes to carrying all those beach toys, nothing beats a sling bag - but any cloth or leather shoulder bag will work as long as it has plenty of accessible pockets.

Purses for formal events

Formal events require clutches, tube clutches and miniature bags. These purses look sleek and elegant and go great with your little black dress (LBD).

Purses for travel

For travel, cross body slings and messenger bags are a must. They’re large enough to carry essentials but sporty enough to look good.

Red purse with white outfitChoosing a purse that fits your body type

When looking for a purse that fits your body type, the general objective is to maintain a balanced look between the handbag and your body shape.

Handbags for pear-shaped body

With wider hips, you want to avoid hip-length bags that add more girth. Choose waist length bags instead, to draw attention to your mid-section.

Handbags for big-busted body

Big busted body types will want to avoid purses, such as saddle bags, that draw attention to the chest area.

Handbags for petite body

Petite body types should avoid long-hanging purses that highlight a small frame.

Handbags for tall and thin body

Tall and thin body types should avoid long, slim bags that elongate the look. Instead, choose oversized handbags, round if possible. Or opt for short, slouchy bags like clutches or hobos.

Handbags for plus size (curvy) body

Curvy women should choose a mid-size purse, boxy if possible, to balance out the curves.

Matching your purse with your outfit

Matching a purse to a sporty outfit

Blue purse matches blue jacket and complementary green dressFor a sporty outfit, a crossbody bag looks good and is hands free. If the outfit is multicolored, try a natural monochrome bag.

Matching a purse to casual dress

Dresses are sleek so a medium-size, structured bag in a classic shape complements it well. Try a purse with embellished hardware to add some spice to the look. If the outfit is printed, try a monochromatic purse that picks a color from your outfit and highlights it.

Matching a purse to a formal outfit

A plain clutch looks good with an embellished outfit. A metallic or sequined clutch looks good with a sheath dress.

Matching a purse to work outfit.

Try pairing printed shoes, the most appropriate shoe for the office, with a tan or suede bag. Look for bags that have two or more colors to add texture to the outfit.

The ultimate guide to matching a purse with your outfit

If your dress has a strong color, choose a lighter color bag. For example, a silver clutch works well with a bright purple dress. If your shoes are embellished or sparkle, tone down the look with a subtler handbag. Try to match the metals of your handbag with the metals of your jewelry for a sophisticated look. If your dress has a pattern, use a single-colored bag. Find the least important color in the pattern and match your bag to that color. Don’t fear contrasting colors.

For example, a black dress goes well with a gray purse. Color coordinating your bag with your shoes is no longer in vogue (the practice of matching accessories this way is called “matchy matchy”). Today it is considered boring. Shoes and bags should match your outfit, not each other. Instead, keep your entire outfit within the same color palette and let the footwear and belt stand out using a different color. The objective is to add color and texture via your handbag. And when you choose a purse that matches your outfit, choose a pair of shoes that distinctly doesn’t. If all else fails, try this little trick: match shoes to lipstick and your bag to your collar.

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