How much thought do you put into buying your handbag? I asked this question on my Instagram once. The answers ranged from impulse buys to spending a lot of time looking for the perfect bag. I fall in the second category where I can spend months looking for the right handbag. But no matter which category you fall into, there are a few things you should keep in mind while choosing a handbag.
Why should you choose your handbag carefully?
Handbags are an essential part of our wardrobes. We carry so many things with us when we step out of the home. Cellphone, house keys, car keys, water bottle, money, credit and debit cards, makeup essentials, the list is endless. All those things find a place in our handbags.
But handbags are not just utilitarian. They are also a style statement. We want the bag to reflect our personality. It should be an extension of me in some way. Something I am comfortable carrying most of the time, if not all the time. A fashionable handbag can also add an extra dash of glamour to an outfit.
If you like to use the same handbag with most outfits, it becomes important to pick something that works well most of the time.
So, let’s dive right in and see what you need to keep in mind while buying a handbag.
Size does matter… a lot!
This should be the first point of decision because you want a primary bag that you can carry around all the time. Depending on your lifestyle, choose a size that works for you.
When I commuted by public transport, I preferred small handbags to carry a few essential items. I already carried a laptop bag and would slip the handbag in my laptop bag. Now that I don’t commute by public transport, I prefer mid-sized tote bags that can carry more things.
Weight matters too
With all those essential and non-essential things that go into the wonderland that is our handbag, weight is crucial. A heavy bag is going to put pressure on your shoulder and arms. We carry a lot of weight around in general. A weighty bag shouldn’t be one of them, especially if you will be carrying it around a lot.
I would be the last person to say that a handbag is not a style statement, but a dose of practicality is also important. If you do go with a heavy bag, make sure you don’t have to carry it around all the time. One of my favourite handbags is quite heavy and I take it to work every day (I don’t have to carry it beyond 10-15 minutes). But I have a separate handbag for weekends and travel.
Try to opt for handbags that are lightweight. If they are going to spend hours dangling on your shoulder, arm or wrist, don’t put pressure on your body.
Don’t compromise on build quality
No matter what your budget is, look for good quality handbags that will last you at least for a year. Fashion should not be junk. You don’t want to be rushing to a bag repairman six weeks after buying a new handbag (true story from my life by the way). Do the math! If you have to spend on repairs and/or trash it after a few months, it is going to be more expensive. It is worth saving your time and money by buying a good quality handbag in the first place.
Look for factory outlets, buy from manufacturers (like stores in Dharavi in Mumbai) and pick something that will last you for a year at the very least.
Build quality includes the material used (leather, PU leather, fabric, canvas etc.), the hardware (zippers, locks etc.), the inner lining and handles. Learn to check and evaluate these so that you don’t get duped.
Keep it neutral or play with colors
This is a sensitive topic for me. Like I mentioned before, handbags are an extension of our personality. I don’t like limiting myself to black, brown, blue and white. But a lot of people may need to do this.
If you work in a formal setup, opting for neutral tones is the ideal way to project a formal look. If you work in more informal settings, go ahead and have fun with your colours. My favourite handbags have all been colourful. But when I worked in a more formal atmosphere, I used to select handbags in black, blue or cream. You can always find designs that reflect your taste without going in for bright colours.
Think of the status symbol
Handbags have been status symbols for a long time. Some of the biggest designer labels are known for their bags. Curating the best designer handbags is also a popular hobby. However, I firmly believe that you should spend based on your budget. If the purchase of a designer or high-street label is going to make a serious dent in your bank balance, then it is not a good idea to go that route.
Instead, opt for good quality bags that do not detract from your look. Pay attention to signs of wear and tear in your existing handbag. It goes without saying that your bag should not look shabby. Make sure the material isn’t faded, the shape isn’t disfigured or the hardware isn’t rusted.
So that’s it. These are the 5 key things you should keep in mind when buying a handbag. In the end, I believe it comes down to practical usage and quality.
I hope this post helps you. If it did, do follow me on Instagram. My handle is @juhitagupta and I share my experiences with fashion, beauty and life in general.
Have some thoughts and/or questions. Let me know in the comment section below.