Women have a bad rap for having too many purses. And, quite honestly, I can tell you that I don’t have that many bags, so I’m not sure who the jerk that let that rumour out is. It’s definitely an unnecessary stereotype.
Seriously, I live in a 700-square-foot apartment that I share with a roommate. There is no way I want to stuff it full of a bunch of shoes and purses. OK, I might want to but it’s just not feasible.
But having one purse isn’t exactly conducive to a fashion-forward lifestyle either. You want at least a few bags to go with a few different looks—business casual, casual, professional, fun…
So, what is the happy medium?
How many purses is too many? What’s an acceptable amount to have so you cover your bases but ensure you don’t go wild with your chequebook or space?
Personally, I have around three or four bags. Here’s a breakdown on the purses that you should probably have in your closet:
I would argue that your most important purse is your professional one, the one that you’re going to cart back and forth to work on a nearly daily basis.
This bag should be higher quality, so I would recommend a slightly higher budget, a neutral colour and be functional for what you need.
Even if you don’t work in an office like me, it’s still important to have a nice bag for the times that you might need it, like client meetings or a networking event.
When it comes to choosing a professional bag that you can cart back and forth to the office, to business lunches and after-work happy hours, the first thing that comes to mind is a classic bucket-shaped tote in black. Something neutral, professional and overall classic with a recognizable brand name that’s not over-the-top when it comes to price.
Calvin Klein is my go-to professional brand because while they’re known for quality their price isn’t over-the-top, which is perfect for my budget. The Hayden Saffiano Tote by Calvin Klein is my favourite version of their classic tote bag. They’ve been making variations of this bag style for as long as I’ve been old enough to purchase purses, and they sell them in pretty much any reasonable colour under the sun.
I recommend going for a classic bag like this in a neutral tone like black, brown or beige, especially if the main purpose of it is to use it as your professional tote!
Womens Briefcase: Matt & Nat
If you’re someone who has to cart your laptop to work then you’re probably better off with a women’s laptop messenger bag like the Loom Cassidy by Matt and Nat. This is one of the best purses for commuting to work because of its crossbody design and the fact that you can fit your average 13-inch laptop in it. Not to mention it has a serious boss lady vibe.
Matt and Nat bags frequently appear on my list because not only are they striking bags, but they’re great quality and are vegan leather (made from recycled water bottles). Plus they’re a Canadian brand, and I love to support my home country!
When you’re shopping for a womens laptop messenger bag, you’re going to want to first and foremost find something that fits your laptop size — I find most people have a 13-inch laptop though I personally cart around a 15-inch laptop which requires a tad bit bigger bag than most.
You’ll also want a high-quality bag that’s less likely to scratch, especially if this is a purse you’ll have to cart around while you commute. I tend to gravitate towards a leather-like material (real or vegan) that’s from a reputable brand. I also recommend sticking with a neutral colour — black, brown, beige — so that it can blend perfectly with any business outfit.
I personally own two Matt and Nat purses. One is a retired weekender bag and one is a smaller same-shaped tote (mine are lilac and pale yellow, respectively). Both are perfect for work, travel and casual occasions!
Professional Backpack: Herschel
A professional backpack is also acceptable, especially if you’re looking for the best bags for commuting. While backpacks can look a little elementary, if you gravitate towards one that has a neutral tone and a trendy look you should be good to go in the office!
Herschel makes great backpacks for professional women on a budget, I personally like their Little America Backpack in black, in fact, I’ve been eyeing it up for the last few months even though I currently have it in a black floral (but straight black is so much more professional). While I have an older model purchased about two years ago, this bag fits my 15-inch laptop, and basically anything I’d have to cart along to work. A professional backpack can also double as a great overnight back!
The only catch when it comes to going with a backpack for your business bag is that they’re not ideal when you have to go to client meetings. If you’re someone who has to make visits out of the office, I recommend keeping an alternative bag in your office!
Your evening purse is the one you take out on the town for a Friday night with the girls. This bag should be smaller and functional (likely with a strap or a handle) and needs to be able to hold your basics, and maybe a lipstick or two. But beyond that, it can be anything you want!
Little Black Bag: Matt & Nat Reiti Satchel Bag
Every single girl should have a little black bag, that’s my professional opinion. The jury’s out on the little black dress considering I tend not to be a dress-wearer, but a little black bag is completely necessary, and my favourite is this cute Matt & Nat Reiti Satchel Bag.
I carry a classic and simple crossbody every chance I get, which is hard considering I’m a notorious over-packer. But date nights, girl’s nights, trips to the store and you can find me sporting it (okay, maybe not the last one).
This bag is a simple crossbody with one main cavity and a discrete pocket inside. The closure is a simple flap and it looks good with pretty much any outfit—from jeans to a dress. It’s the perfect evening bag, definitely my top choice!
Cute Wristlet: LATH.PIN
If minimal is your thing when you’re headed out on the town, then a wristlet wallet might be your best choice for your evening handbag. Using a wristlet means that you have to keep your packing to a minimum — and I mean really minimum, money, keys and phone. That’s it!
This cute elephant-patterned Bohemian Wristlet by LATH.PIN probably isn’t appropriate for the fancy bar with the hidden doors and $25 cocktails, but it can definitely work for your average Friday night out. It has room for your phone, cards, cash and even a little change purse, making it great for the minimalist packer.
Wristlets are great because they keep your valuables close, but the downside is you have to carry it constantly, unlike a crossbody where you can go hands-free. But the strap on this cute little wallet can be removed, so you can tuck it right into your casual purse once you’re home and use it as your regular wallet!
For those days that your night crossbody or clutch is too small but you’re not willing to sacrifice any possible wear on your professional bag, a casual purse is in order!
Your casual purse can be pretty much anything under the sun, this is a great chance to show your personality and have a little fun but you definitely don’t have to break the bank for a casual bag.
You can find a nice casual purse that will last you a while in the $50 to $60 range, but if you’re looking to mix it up or stick to a tighter budget, you can easily pull off a casual bag for about $30.
Structured Hobo Handbag: Molodo
Some single ladies prefer their casual handbags simple with one large main cavity to hold all of their personal items, it that sounds like you, the Molodo leather handbag is a great choice! I like this style of handbag because it’s easy to dig and grab your things out of the open-top, but there’s a detachable zip pocket inside so you can have that extra security if you want.
These open-top bags (or faux open-top if you use the zip pocket) are a great casual bag, but they can also double as your work bag if you’re dressing down for casual Friday or going out with the girls after work and don’t want to bring your pricer professional purse.
While you can’t cart a laptop around in this baby, you can safely store most iPads or tablets, and anything else you need to cart along with you. But be careful with these bags, because they’re bigger it’s really easy to accidentally pull a Mary Poppins and throw a bunch of completely unnecessary items in it (no, you don’t need six books for your coffee date with Karen).
Working with a tight budget and wanting something that has a genuine casual style? If that’s the case a zipper close canvas hobo-style shoulder bag like this Fanspack bag is perfect for you. Weighing in at a mere $14 (at the time of writing) this bag is definitely a bargain find. But unlike some of the other bargain bags out there, it has genuinely good reviews!
Casual shoulder bags a great because they not only work in pretty much any setting from dinner and a movie to a Walmart trip, they’re easy to carry and have more than enough room for the things you need (note that I said need).
This cute shoulder bag comes in five colours (besides the grey I lean towards the dark blue) so you can pick the best for your personality, and they work great with jeans and a tee!
If you’re a hands-off kinda gal that can genuinely pare down your must-bring list to a reasonable size, then a smaller crossbody bag like this multi-zipper crossbody by B Brenato. It’s got two zippered pockets in the front, one in the back and a main pocket in the middle making it great to properly organize your personal items!
This cute crossbody bag also has RFID blocking on five credit card slots and one passport-sized compartment, which means it’s safety features are great. Especially for a bag this reasonably priced! These safety features make it a great bag for travel in case you happen to be out and about abroad.
Optional Fun Purse
Because some girls like to have more than three bags, I threw a reasonable fourth option in here: the fun bag!
I’ll be the first to admit that I have most definitely owned a few fun purses in the past, my last one was a yellow faux-ostrich skin bag that was adorable (and purchased for under $50).
But, if I had all the money in the world (or simply an extra few hundred dollars kicking around that I could spend on anything) my fun purse would be this one pink flamingo patterned Kate Spade bag I saw a few years back when I was in Las Vegas.
At the time, the bag was almost $500 USD, which I most certainly could not afford, and now the line, as far as I can tell, has been discontinued. Alas, I still find myself daydreaming about the bag.
Bold Clutch: Abshoo
Fun purses are typically bags that add a little personality, but not necessarily bags that you’d carry around daily. That descriptor makes a clutch a great choice because they’re not only adorable but can be slightly impractical when it comes to being an everyday bag, though it does come with an optional strap!
This cute Abshoo clutch could actually qualify as an evening handbag if you’re looking for a genuinely fun bag and you’re willing to cart around a bolder-coloured bag on your Saturday night girl’s night out. It comes in this adorable yellow (my personal favourite), blue and pink.
It has a zippable closure and can fit your cellphone, making it a great grab-and-go bag, so long as you don’t have a huge wallet or need to bring anything bulky around.
Unique Bucket Bag: Matt and Nat
The purpose of a fun bag is to show off your personality with a great piece that you absolutely love to carry. Purses can be the bane of any woman’s existence considering you have to constantly babysit things that you’ll never take out and use — but they can be a lot of fun if you have the right bay!
This adorable Matt and Nat Mini Satchel Bag is made from their classic vegan leather (the material is made from reusable water bottles) and has a unique colour, which I absolutely love.
How Many Purses Is Too Many?
Honestly, babe. You can have as many purses as you want. So long as you have room for them and the money to afford them. When I pick a new bag, I like to ask myself:
- How much am I really going to use it?
- What outfits does it go with?
- Where can I store it?
- Why do I want it? Note: “because I do” is an acceptable answer.
Because when it comes down to it, how many times are you really going to use that hot pink faux-crocodile skin bag?
Just make sure your purse collection reflects you, fits in your closet, meets your needs and doesn’t break the bank — besides that girl, you do you!
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