The Complete Bag Wardrobe


A few weeks ago I promised you I'd continue showing you all of the items recommended in the Lucky Magazine guide book to building a complete wardrobe, so today I'm sticking with that pledge! But, instead of throwing a whole bunch of different groupings at you, I'm just going to address the bags and delve into the category a bit deeper. I'll be doing this with all future categories, as well as reviewing those briefly mentioned in my first post on the topic

(Note: the photo at right is an affiliate link and I may earn a small amount of money if you click on it and make a purchase. This helps me run this blog, so thank you!)

Now, I know that this may not seem like a minimalist approach, but it is a way to streamline your closet and ensure that you have every kind of piece you could want, even if you just stick to the recommended basics. Once you have these pieces in your closet, you could stop there and have all you need for every season for years to come. Or, you could live with this wardrobe for a while and use it as a stepping stone to a more minimalist, true capsule wardrobe because you'll gain a greater understanding of what you repeatedly wear. 

OK, now on to the bags! Take a moment to study these examples of bags that the brilliant original Lucky editors thought you needed:

A Complete Bag Wardrobe according to the Lucky Shopping Manual

Six essential bags and at least eight extras. As someone who has owned probably close to 100 bags at a time (don't judge!) anything fewer than twenty sounds like a number that covers all the bases yet is not too overwhelming. (Note: I have greatly reduced the number of bags I own!) Does this sound like a reasonable number to you? Do you own more? How many of your bags do you truly love and wear? Do they fit your Style Intention

OK, now let's take a look at these bags one by one. 

Everyday Bag

This bag should most likely be in black or brown, whichever dark neutral you wear the most. Maybe even navy or charcoal suit your everyday style best. I'm a bit in love with this Chloe style, but perhaps the chain isn't for you and you'd prefer a slightly slouchy hobo bag that sits comfortably on your shoulder. (And no, I don't actually own this bag!) An everyday bag should fit all the items you need in your daily life: wallet, glasses/sunglasses, keys, cosmetics, phone, etc., but it should not weigh you down. Of all the bags you own, this is the most important bag because you'll likely wear it the most. Leather is the best option, and it should be able to take you from a day of shopping to a nice dinner out. It also should look fantastic with the majority of your wardrobe. This bag (and perhaps your work bag) should be a high-quality investment piece so it lasts you for years. 

Small Work Bag

The small work bag is probably one of the items requiring the most personalization, depending on whether you work, where you work, and your office environment. If you carry a laptop bag, you want to be sure that this purse is large enough to hold your daily essentials, but not too big that you look like a bag lady. If you carry a large tote to work (that may or may not hold a laptop) you might prefer a smaller bag that tucks inside, but can be pulled out to carry to lunch or a date after work. Again, this should be a solid neutral that spans the seasons. Think leather or coated canvas.

Work Tote (or Briefcase)

These days, many people carry work totes that fit laptops, which are terrific all-in-one bags, but they can get heavy because we load them down! This is not good for our bodies. If you work in a corporate office, a dark neutral like black or charcoal are best, and structure is key for a polished look. If you work in a more casual office, feel free to opt for a less structured bag, but keep it to a solid neutral. Creative office? Go wild! The one key here is selecting a bag that is lightweight when empty, so stay way from super heavy hardware or really thick leather. 

Casual Tote

Your weekend best friend, the casual tote, should be comfy on the shoulders and roomy enough to stuff a sweater inside. I think this is an item to save on, because you don't want to stress about throwing this bag down on the grass during that summer outdoor concert or picnic in the park. Look for bags in canvas or nylon with leather straps because they are lightweight but the leather elevates the look a bit. When shopping for this bag, consider whether you don't mind rummaging through one big bag or if you prefer lots of compartments. 

Evening Bag

I am just in love with marble, which you may have noticed from this blog design! This little beauty above is different from your standard evening bag yet could be worn in any season. Unfortunately, most of us cannot afford Charlotte Olympia, but I couldn't help including this gem! An evening bag should be quite small, fitting just your wallet essentials, a lipstick, keys, and your phone, provided it's not a monster phablet! Since we don't wear evening bags frequently, it's ok to look for something inexpensive, just keep the shape classic: a box or a pleated little clutch. Think satin for the greatest versatility, maybe with some embellishment. Black will never do you wrong here. 

Going-out Bag

This is where you can have some fun! Pick a color you love, perhaps some leopard print, or cool detailing like this amazing little bag above. This bag should be versatile and big enough to hold everything in your evening bag plus a bit more, if you need it. Opt for a clutch or a small shoulder bag with chain detail. The pink bag shown under "extras" is a great example of another going-out bag. I suggest buying one high-quality and timeless going-out bag (think black or metallic with a chain strap) and then adding in some fun bags at a good price point. 

A basic black dress is transformed for every occasion with solely bags and shoes.

A basic black dress is transformed for every occasion with solely bags and shoes.

So, that covers the essentials! This may be just the perfect amount of bags for you, but if you need a bit more variety then include some of these additional types of purses to round out your wardrobe. 

Crossbody Bag

Personally, this is an essential for me. I wear a cross body bag almost every day of the weekend, and it's my go-to style for concerts and sporting events. This Marc by Marc Jacobs is relatively small, but I am always shocked at how much it fits. (I splurged on a cobalt blue version this summer.) If you keep this bag in a smallish to medium size, you won't find your back aching in the middle of the day. (Make sure to switch shoulders every so often!) As far as color and fabric, it's up to you here - this is a casual bag meant for fun and adventure!

Summer & Winter Evening Bags

Summer weddings. Holiday formals. These are the two tiny pieces you might want to add if you see these kinds of events in your near future. Follow the same advice as the evening bag section above, but be sure to think about the season when buying. Summer: light color, feminine detailing, and lightweight fabric. Winter: deeper color, heavier or edgier accents, and velvet. Save here, unless you can afford not to.

Summer Work Bag

Sometimes we need to lighten things up a bit, and that's just what a lighter colored work tote would do for your outfits. Come late spring, swap out your dark work tote for a similarly-styled bag in a lighter color and instantly the same outfit looks more appropriate for the season. I also love tan and camel bags for work during the warmer months.

Straw Tote

This is definitely an "extra" but serves as a good swap for that casual tote bag you've been carrying around for months. Straw instantly adorns the shelves when the temperature gets higher, and it's a terrific lightweight option for larger totes. 

Waterproof Beach Bag

If you head to the beach a lot in the summer, you will definitely want a bag that keeps everything free of water and sand. (This bag is insulated so it also keeps things cool!) Look for a bag with a zipper that you don't mind getting dirty. Make sure it's big enough for sunscreen, a hat, a layer for warmth in the evening, and perhaps your towel. Oh, and a big bottle of water!

Large Travel Bag

For those weekend trips when you don't need too much, a large duffle is a great option. Make sure it's not too heavy to carry through the endless airport walkways when it's filled with clothes, or just keep it for short-distance car trips. This can also serve as a gym bag, so look for something that can do double-duty. 

How many bags are in your closet? What bags can you not live without?