[Trendzilla] Make a Statement With a Bright Handbag

Little to no attention is usually paid to those quarterly editorial spreads about what the top five must-have seasonal trends are. It's usually the same stuff, anyway—spring brings color, exposed legs, shorter hemlines, whatever—always answering the question of what Olsen One or Two is wearing.

The lists this year include oversized, portfolio-shaped clutches (look no further than steadfast Marc by Marc Jacobs, who has large, supple, leather airliner clutches this season for $248 to $348); sheer layers; opulent florals; tribal prints. But once temperatures peak above 65, there's one (attainable) thing the magazines are right about: bright statement bags.

They're a little more compact this year, a little more structured. Those misshapen, deflated-balloon body bags gals have been dragging around on their shoulders for four or five years now are quickly making an exit—thankfully. They were everywhere, at least in Orange County—at first, they were in normal colors, mostly black or chocolate-brown leather. Then they started making them with buckles, tassles, drawstring tops, studs, chains and rivets. In purple and turquoise-crackled leather. And people still bought them. So many details on that large of a handbag was just too much—and most of the time, those hobo purses only weighed down petite body frames.

On the other end of the spectrum were the equally popular Skittles-colored Coach and Dooney & Bourke bags the size of your armpit, which you had to save up your lunch money to procure. And even then, you had to compete with your other girlfriends, who had their eyes on the same pint-sized purse. While the brands are considered to be on the more affordable side as far as brand-name handbags go, monogram-print anything still screams for unwarranted attention—look how much I spent! And on a schlocky bag!

Purses with long, drop-down shoulder straps that hit at the hip are more popular these days, in both the more structured, classic styles (i.e., the quilted Chanel 2.55 classic flap with adjustable chain) or the hipster suede equivalents available at Urban Outfitters.

The satchel style, like the "Owl Lady bag" from Marc by Marc Jacobs pictured here, is also big on the runways and with the younger set. The purses are modeled after the boxy leather and canvas satchels schoolkids carried to class (and still carry, in Europe and Asia). It's a throwback to both the equestrian (trend No. 2!) saddle bag (trend No. 3!) and the androgyny (4!) thing. The bag retails for $398 and comes in a smooth-leathered navy, kelly green, subdued cream and red. Remove the strap for a quick conversion to a ladylike handbag that makes a fun contrast to an otherwise-casual outfit. Miu Miu offers a similar (cuter) style also available in a bright red—but for $715 more.

Bright bags make an unexpected splash of actual color for people who are either afraid of color (me) or just have no other way to integrate cheerful, bright hues such as mustard yellow, electric blue and fire-engine red into their wardrobes.


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