Last Sunday, some of you may remember, was Valentine's Day. I happened to be enjoying some early dinner at a nice-ish restaurant Sunday, and so got to witness a small parade of folks who were obviously out to celebrate with their significant other or longtime partner. This meant some people made an effort - it was a bit dressier than usual for a Sunday evening in Austin.
There was a commonality among most of the women who were dressed up, exemplified by one pretty 20-something. Overall, I'd give her look a "B." She had the right idea: she was wearing an LBD, she managed to find a coat that looked warm and was still pretty, she had on heels (although she was bare-legged and the heels were strappy sandals, which is just foolishness when the temperature is in the low 40's and dropping -- Style Spy will deal with this anon) and earrings and overall looked like she cared enough about her date to look nice for the occasion. (Which is really what we all want isn't it? To know that we inspired a bit of effort on someone else's part?) I'm going to take off points because her ensemble was ALL black (it's a Valentine's Day date, dear, not your great aunt's funeral), the aforementioned bare legs, and for the fact that when she turned, I could see hanging over her shoulder this monstrosity:
Only hers was worse because the leather accents were a garish bright red, and the monogram pattern was two-tone so that it was even more obvious.
I'm going to spare you my rant on not wearing someone else's logo, name or initials anywhere on your person unless you are a Nascar driver or dressed in your occupational wardrobe. (The UPS guy has to wear a UPS badge when he's delivering, that seems fair. But are you the Ed Hardy guy? The Louis Vuitton woman? I thought not.) That's not what this is about. This is about the fact that, while it may have been her favorite handbag, or her most expensive or newest or whatever, it is most decidedly NOT an evening bag. Dear ladies, if you are old enough to get dressed up and go nice places, you should have at least one evening bag tucked away in your closet. If you carry it to the office, or the grocery store, it is not an evening bag. And I don't care how much it cost, I don't care if it's a $2500 Bottega Campana -- it's not an evening bag.
I'm talking about something dressy, preferably made of satin or another special-occasion material, like a metallic or patent leather. Something small, that you can carry in one hand. It may or may not have a bit (or a lot) of sparkle on it, depending on your taste. Black is a safe choice for most people, although if you're going to have only one I would suggest you go with silver or gold, depending on what you wear more of, because black can be wrong with a light-colored or warm-weather dress.
I can hear the grumbling, and let's put a stop to it now, shall we?
No, you cannot carry much in this bag. May I remind you: you are going out to dinner, not on a trek through Nepal. You do not NEED much. Your house and maybe car key. (Get another house key cut if you need to, and put it on a separate ring -- just a ring, no big jangling cutesy key fobs! -- with a car key. I personally like the kind that comes apart, so that if I'm valet parking I can hand over my car key without surrendering my house key.) Your lippie of choice, and some blotting papers (if you have to re-apply your eye makeup during the course of a single evening, you're either wearing too much or you need better makeup). A mirror, your ID, a handkerchief, one credit card, your mobile telephonic communication device (which should stay INSIDE your bag for the entirety of the date, barring an emergency) and some cash. (PLEASE do not leave home without some cash, people!! You cannot tip the coat check girl, or the valet, or even the bartender who makes your martini while you wait for a table, with a credit card!! Be civilized, for god's sake!!) If by chance you know your dining companion well enough that it seems likely you will not be returning home that evening (ahem), put a few things into a small tote and leave them in the car. If you do not know your companion well enough to do this without embarrassment and you STILL think it's possible the evening might not end until tomorrow, whyever in the name of all that's holy would you go to HIS place? Are you nuts?? Take him to yours, for crying out loud!!
As for the I-can't-juggle-everything-and-still-hang-onto-a-purse argument, rest assured: most evening bags have a removable or tuck-in-able strap. This is not a new problem.
And don't give me the oh, that's an expense I can't justify BS, either. You can find a perfectly nice, inexpensive evening bag without throwing down for a Judith Leiber minaudiere. (See my choice here.) Here, take a look: (Click, as usual, on the photos for links.)
Every one of the above bags A) is under $30, B) has a shoulder strap, and C) comes in black and at least one other neutral, all-purpose color like gold or silver. And some of them come in a rainbow of wild, fun colors, as well.
If you want to go with more Advanced Fashion (and more advanced price) how about these?
I have this minaudiere in the matte gold. Je l'adore. There's something so wonderfully 40's glam about carrying a box clutch -- make sure your nails are nice, though.
Of course, if you want, you can go entirely crazy:
Speaking of clutches -- this made me clutch at my heart. Click on the link to get a better look at this, it's really stupendous.