Style Guide for Rocking Your Next Handbag

Nothing says woman like a handbag. A quality handbag will stay at your side for years, but how to find the right one? If you're looking to leave behind the disposable world of Fast Fashion, you need to really sit with your clothing decisions, and choosing the perfect bag for you is about more than just finding something that looks cute. We at Rust and Fray are happy to help guide you towards finding that perfect fit.


The first and probably most important step is figuring out what the bag is going to be used for. A tiny clutch will not carry enough around for more than an evening event, and a large tote will get cumbersome for the frequent flier. While this is not exactly the most “in-depth” tip out there, the basics of where you’re going to wear it, how much you plan on carrying around, and how often this particular bag will be at your side is the the basis of your purchase, no matter how pretty another bag might look. And as always, timeless beats trendy, because when you are thinking of a bag to last you, one that looks good three years from now is more important than one that looks good now.


Now that you’ve got an idea of what bags suit your lifestyle, it’s time to think about what bags suit your body. Working with silhouettes is one of the more important aspects of understanding fashion, and seeing as it’s impossible to predict every single outfit you will be wearing with your bag, we need to focus on working with your body's natural silhouette. 

There are two basic ideas to think about when matching a bag to your body: proportionality and balance. You want your bag’s size to be proportional to your body. Short and petite? Opt for the smaller bags. Large and curvy? Pick out the larger bag. Those two body types form the ends of the spectrum of bags, and everyone in between can think of their perfect bag as being somewhere on that scale. A bag out of proportion over-emphasizes the size of both your body and the bag, which just ends up looking cartoony.

As for the shape and length of your bag, you want it to balance out your body. If you have thinner hips, a bag that rests at the hips will bring those hips out. A woman with a more hourglass or pear shaped figure might want a bag that sits above the hips. Long vertical lines emphasize height, so a shorter women might want a thin bag to emphasize the vertical lines of the straps, and a tall woman might want a wide bag to create a strong horizontal line on her silhouette. Curvy and voluptuous women might want a bag with straight, structured shape whereas thinner women might want a slouchy bag. These tips all help create contrast, which adds depth to the presentation and makes it so that no one aspect of the body is getting too much attention.


And finally we get to color. Again, color is tied into function, because the bag you’re buying for fancy cocktail nights is going to be a different color than the bag you’re buying for everyday wear, and a casual weekend fun bag can basically be any fun looking color combination you want. If you have a minimalist wardrobe, or have simply taken the step to pair down your closet to that third of clothing you wear regularly, laying out your clothing and figuring out what your favorite colors are can be a very straightforward way to help you figure out what color your handbag should be. If everything in your wardrobe has a purple theme going on, a yellow bag can really pop. Red theme would make a green bag pop, and so on. That all said, there are still some tips on colors for those who have too much clothes to do that.

Neutral colors are always the safest if you want your bag to work with anything. Blacks and bark browns are of course the standard, and light tan is a neutral that still stands out well. And with denim being so common as well as such an easy color to work with, blue bags can be very versatile, especially for more casual outfits. If you want something more colorful but just as versatile, try teals and peachy pinks. The reason is that no matter what your skin color is, you’re going to blush (unless you’re a vampire). Peachy pinks can be made to match your glow whereas teal is that glow’s complementary color, so both colors help you look radiant. Finally, if you want something really bright, reds and yellows work well but for opposite reasons. Red is just such a lively, vibrant color that it almost always looks good. Yellow, on the other hand, is a notoriously tricky color to work with, but what ends up happening then is that if you can pull off yellow it becomes even more special. We recommend a more mature yellow to a bright canary yellow just because the fact that it’s yellow will naturally make it pop already.

Before we go, remember that at the end of the day these are all just guidelines. If something works for you then it works for you, even if it break the “rules.” Painters, musicians, directors, sculptures, writers, fashion designers and everyone else in the world of art and aesthetics all understand that your brain subconsciously processes information even if you are not consciously aware of it. If a bag is speaking to you, it probably means that something about that bag is working for you, even if you can’t articulate why it’s working in terms of fashion or color theory. So go out and find the bag that makes you look and feel fierce. And remember to follow our Facebook page and our Instagram for more fashion tips and to see what our constantly changing designs might bring next.

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