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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?
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.”)
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.)
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.
Workwear sales of note for 12.7.23
Our favorites are in bold!
- Nordstrom – Holiday sale up to 50% off; up to 40% off selected designer styles
- Ann Taylor – 40% off your purchase & extra 15% off sweaters
- Banana Republic – 40% off your purchase; up to 40% off sale styles
- Banana Republic Factory – 50% off everything & extra 20% off purchase; Gap Inc. cardmembers take extra 25% off
- ba&sh – Winter sale up to 50% off
- Bergdorf Goodman – Designer sale up to 40% off; extra 15% off sale; complimentary same-day delivery
- Brooklinen – 25% off best sellers, up to 40% off bundles!
- Club Monaco – 25% off almost everything
- J.Crew – 40% off your purchase with code; up to 50% off coats; up to 60% off present picks
- Loft – 40% off your purchase plus extra 15% off
- Lo & Sons – Up to 50% off plus extended return policy — reader favorites include this laptop tote, this backpack, and this crossbody
- Sephora – 20% off purchase with code; 30% off all Sephora Collection
- Summersalt – Up to 60% off select styles (this reader-favorite sweater blazer is 40% off)
- Talbots – 40% off your regular-price purchase; 50% off all sweaters, coats, shoes & accessories; readers love this cashmere boatneck and this cashmere cardigan, as well as their sweater blazers in general
- Theory – Extra 25% off everything; extra 10% off with Apple Pay
- Theory Outlet – Last-chance styles 70-80% off; extra 25% off sweaters; readers love this T-shirt
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