Weekend Wednesday: Going Out Bags

This is an occasional feature where we take a deeper look at weekend wear for professional women.

Ladies, which are your favorite bags (or types of bags) to carry when you go out on the town? Do you make an effort to switch bags when you’re going out, or do you often just end up carrying the same bag you wore to work? Do you prefer one brand/style to wear with jeans on dates, and another brand/style to wear as, say, a wedding guest? 



Pictured: / EyesI Need a Vacation box clutch (on sale!) / red envelope clutch / Black grommet clutch


I’ve always had a few nice clutches that I liked for weddings and other fancyish events, but during my single days I often found myself going out on the weekend with the same bag that I’d worn during the work week. (This is what I used to carry in my regular bag for work.) After diaper bags entered our lives, though, I went through a phase where I bought a ton of nice clutches for date nights with my husband, and I even have a few small crossbodies. In my mind, the pros and cons to the different weekend bag options break down like this:

Your Regular Work Bag/Tote

Pros: plenty of room for whatever you need — a book or magazine (in case you’re stuck waiting for someone), an extra sweater or even a change of clothes (if you’re, say, hitting the gym before grabbing drinks with a friend).

Cons: not very “festive” — plus you run the risk of whacking people with it if you end up standing in a tight space, like at a bar or club.


Pros: Cute with your outfit, and you can often find ones that are witty in a sophisticated way (I think Kate Spade reigns supreme here, but I also like the cheeky eyes clutch from Clare V above). If you want sleek and ladylike, there are some clutches that bridge the gap from wedding guest to date night (I think the much-loved Minkoff envelope clutch does that). Plus — call me crazy! — but there’s also a magic that happens when you pare down to just what you need for going out — kind of like you leave your troubles/worries in your regular bag and just take your favorite lipstick, ID, and credit card with you.

Cons: You worry about where to put the bag all night (on the table? behind you on your chair, in the small of your back? on the floor?) and if you’re at a standing event it’s tricky to juggle a drink and a plate of food unless you tuck it under your arm. My favorite kind of clutch to get has either a) a small thin chain that can be tucked inside so it can become a shoulder bag, if you need it (like this affordable Phase 3 clutch), and/or b) has a handle that’s flush with the clutch (not like a wristlet or satchel) to help you clutch your clutch (which, huh, Valentino calls a “flat hand strap.”)


Pro: Fancy!

Cons: I have not yet reached the level of fancy that I have any desire for one of these babies. If my driver’s license doesn’t fit I don’t see the point in carrying it — and some of the sparklier ones just look like they would snag the heck out of any delicate fabric like lace or silk.  Plus, most of them are literally meant to be carried in your hand, not tucked under your arm. (I would consider the Kate Spade box clutch above to be more on the minaudière side of things, but it’s adorable…and on sale. Hmmmn…)

Small Shoulder Bags

Pros: Modern! See above re: the magic of whittling down. Also: You aren’t whacking people with your bag, and you can juggle a plate of food and a drink easily!

Cons: The longer straps that are in right now remind me so much of every bag I carried in my teens — it’s an 80s look that I just don’t like. (But: I love the optional shoulder straps on this grommet clutch from AllSaints, pictured above — and a flat handle! I’m in love.)

Crossbody Bags

Pros: Modern! Trendy! See above re: magic of whittling down and lack of whacking people.

Cons: Maybe it’s because I’m busty, but I just never like the way they lay. Plus, I feel like the trendier way to wear them is with the bag behind you, but that goes against my general preference (at least in the subway or whatnot) to keep my bag in front of me. They also feel really casual to me. (But then, the two I have are Botkier and Elizabeth & James, so there you go.) (Oooh: but the affordable Sole Society clutch/crossbody (pictured above) may make me reconsider that — love the slightly gritty vibe to it — this one has a cleaner look that’s nice, too.)

I don’t know, ladies — what are your thoughts? Which bags are your favorite going out bags? Have you bought any great ones lately, or do you like to mix it up by renting them through Rent the Runway?

Psst: our last discussion on going out clothes if you’re over 25. 





  1. I had to google minaudiere.

  2. I am looking for a small evening bag that is not silk (I need something more impervious to stains), with a short wrist handle. Not too bulky.

    • Seriously – check out DSW. They always have so many evening bags. Or Charming Charlie’s!

  3. Anonymous :

    I love clutches but I pretty much only bring them to weddings or functions where I can put my bag down and not have to hold it all night. It drives me crazy not having the use of my hand otherwise.

  4. Diana Barry :

    I have a clutch (MJ “pouch” from the Target collaboration) that is silvery-gold and so goes with EVERYTHING, and that is what I bring to weddings. I also have a smaller wallet that is a wristlet, and if we are traveling I will take out only what I need (license, health insurance, credit and debit card, plus cash) and put that in the smaller wallet. My regular wallet would fit in the clutch but that would be all that would fit!

  5. For weddings where I can leave it in my chair, a sparkly clutch. Otherwise, a Coach wristlet.

    Has anyone tried the Audible channels that are now free with Prime?

  6. I’m a fan of the long strap shoulder bag. I think – based on the 90s trend generally – you are also going to see short strap shoulder bags come back.
    My biggest issue with many/most “evening” bags is that they are so thin that if you put even your phone, lipstick, credit card, ID and a pack of gum, they can look lumpy.

  7. Along these lines: I inherited some lovely vintage clutches from my great grandmother. Although they’re not that tiny, necessarily, they’re not the right dimension to fit my phone – either too narrow or too shallow. Is there any way to salvage them? Is there such a thing as a cobbler or tailor for purses?

  8. Shopaholic :

    I use the Rebecca Minkoff bags with long straps (I can’t remember what they’re called but there are a few). They’re big enough to fit my wallet, sunglasses, lipgloss, keys and phone but not too bulky. I love clutches but I find they’re hard to manage esp at a bar or something.

  9. I love the look and size (about 10 x 7) of the Minkoff clutch, but having open zipper teeth around the sides of it do not go well with a satin or silk or lace dress. The zipper teeth are sharp and snag on everything!

  10. I like a clutch/wallet that works as a wallet inside my work bag, but attach a chain strap and voila, its a bag appropriate for all but the fanciest affairs.

  11. LOVE the Kate Spade clutches / minaudières but haven’t purchased any because I really don’t have enough instances to utilize them, sadly.

    Big fan of crossbody bags – I’ve had the Rebecca Minkoff Morning After Clutch for years, which actually fits quite a bit without feeling heavy/bulky. I can comfortably fit a wallet, keys, gum, hand sanitizer, thin cardigan and small umbrella in there. Also love the Lo & Sons Pearl – lots of compartments so you don’t have to worry about getting your wallet snagged. I’ve managed to get a lot of use out of my Mansur Gavriel mini mini bucket bag – despite the open top, I haven’t had any issues with it on the subway in NYC.