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When was the last time you bought yourself a nice new handbag? Some ladies have no qualms collecting bags. For them, its a new bag at every event, a different bag to match every outfit, maybe even every pair of shoes. One the other hand, some ladies use only one handbag that goes with everything they have and when that bag finally gives out, they will go and buy a replacement. The rest of us probably lie somewhere between the 2 extremes.

Most of us don’t put handbags under the same stringent scrutiny that we would when buying a pair of designer jeans. For handbags, the rule of thumb is: “If a handbag is cute and it fits my lifestyle, better still, if its on SALE, I’ll buy it.”

The truth is, getting the right handbag can flatter our body shape and polish up our personal style in a flash. However, most of us are too engrossed following designer trends and are on a constant lookout for hot new “IT” bags, that we don’t really take the time to consider if those very same “IT” bags, actually suit our lifestyle or our figure. Perhaps it is time to rethink some of our bag shopping priorities.

Here are a few of our practical tips to consider when choosing a handbag.

Size of the Handbag

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The right size handbag for our body should be the first thing to think about when buying a bag. Most fashion experts suggest that for petite ladies, it’s best to choose smaller handbags, as larger bags will overwhelm and make the petite person look even smaller. The key consideration is BALANCE. Vice versa, a small bag on a larger person also looks disproportionate. Get a bag size that proportionately suits your stature.

Shape of the Handbag

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Pick a bag shape that is opposite of your body silhouette. For example, if you are very tall and thin, carrying a slouchy, rounded hobo bag helps to add curves to your figure. On the other hand, if you’re short and curvy, choosing a long and sleek clutch or a tall, rectangular bag will certainly elevate your style. As a guide, the curvier the figure, the more structured the handbag should be.

STRAPS & SUCH

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Handbag straps and handles are often overlooked when purchasing bags. Careful consideration should be given to these bag straps. A shoulder bag’s length (where the bottom of the bag hits your body) will accentuate whatever part of the body it comes near. For example, a shoulder bag that ends around the hips will play up your hip width (the eye is drawn to the bag). On a pear-shaped woman, this make her hips look wider, every time she puts the bag on her shoulder!

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Most women look great with a bag that hits mid-torso because it accentuates the waist.

Crossbody bags (eg: messenger bags) are difficult to carry off for busty women because the strap cuts right across the bustline. However, on a smaller women, these bags look super chic & stylish.

Take time in a store to try on handbags in front of a mirror just like you would when shopping for clothes.

Lifestyle

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Be mindful of your lifestyle when shopping for handbags. If you’re toting diapers or lugging A4 files and a laptop around on most days, a slim long clutch or a cute little handheld basket bag isn’t going to hold it all in. Are you a stay-home mum? Are you the professional career woman? Are you the enviable tai-tai? What must your handbag hold for you daily? Wallet? Namecards? Makeup stuff? House keys? Cheque books? Mobile phones? Ipads? Laptops? Snacks? Kitchen sink? Make a conscious decision based on the stuff you have to carry in your handbag most of the time.

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Another key consideration when choosing a bag is this: how organized and particular an individual you are? How far are you willing to go for fashion? (Some ladies are willing to wear 7” stilettos in the name of fashion, while others wear thongs in the office for comfort’s sake. It is an individual choice, but know where you stand). Will you change a bag everyday, simply to match the colour of your outfit or are you the kind to lug everything around in a giant tote just so you’ve got everything you need with you always?

The next time you go bag shopping, ask the sales person to allow you to put everything you need into the new bag you are considering. This way, you will have a much clearer picture of what the bag looks like when its full of your stuff, and what you will look to others when carrying the bag.

Budget

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In fashion, we have a unique way of calculating cost called cost per use. The idea behind this term is simple. We take the cost of the item and divide it by the number of times we think we will use it before it falls apart or before it goes out of style. For example, if I buy a pair of running shoes for $100 and I use it to go running 3 times a week. Say the shoes lasts a year (and I keep up my running for a year), the cost per use of that pair of running shoes is only $0.64. If in the end, I only use those running shoes twice before I run out of steam, then the costs per use of those same shoes becomes $50 per wear!

When we translate this concept onto our handbag shopping experience, the basic question will be how often will I use this bag cheerfully and in terms of cost per use, what does it come up to be? Based on your own calculations, if you are happy with your answer, then go ahead and get the bag! My personal recommendation is to spend more on handbags in neutral colours like black or brown (they practically go with everything!) and spend less on colourful, fun bags that go in and out of fashion ever so quickly. That way, we are stylish and practical and our pockets are happy too!

Well, those are our top 5 handbag shopping tips. Which was your favourite tip? Was this post helpful? We would like to hear from you. Do you have other considerations when shopping for handbags? Write to us in the comments below. The best answer gets a S$50 Che Che shopping voucher to spend on the latest Summer Collection and can be used exclusively at VEIL boutiques in Singapore.

Look forward to hear from you all. Happy Shopping!