Choose the Perfect Purse for Your Body Type

Choose the Perfect Purse for Your Body Type

I’m thinking it’s time to switch my summery purse to something more fall appropriate as September coasts into fall.

In my mind, I’m that gal who changes her purse to perfectly accent her outfit and be appropriately in season. I have a modest collection of handbags – nothing over the top for sure, but enough to give me the flexibility to coordinate with my outfit or mood or current color obsession. But .  . . I never do it. So I guess I’m not that gal.

How do they do it, those gals? I’m guessing they don’t have random receipts and wrappers from gum and statements or papers to remind them to follow up on something taking up residence in their handbags. They’ve must be ultra-organized – a place for every little thing. Or maybe they are minimalists with only one lipstick and a slim, completely closed wallet. It’s probably fairly easy to read between the lines – I don’t have what it takes to be a handbag changer.

I’m scanning my Park-a-Purse organizer (pictured above) on my closet shelf and considering my options for a fall handbag. I know, this decision will not have far reaching effects or cause a ripple in the world, but it does affect my day-to-day operations. My perfect purse: big enough to hold all that I want to carry, not too heavy, can close even when it’s full, doesn’t cause shoulder fatigue or pain, easy to find what I’m looking for in less than ten minutes, fashionable. Not too much to ask for, right?

But now I’m learning that I have to add one more thing to the list of what makes the perfect purse. It has to flatter my shape with the right proportions.

Maybe you already know this and all of your purses are perfect for your figure. Or maybe, like me, you are picturing the handbags you’ve carried this past year and wondering if you ruined your look because of the wrong purse choice that called attention to your least favorite feature.

To save us all from committing one more fashion faux pas of the handbag variety, here are a few need-to-know guidelines for choosing a purse that flatters your shape.

The size of your handbag should be proportionate to your body type

  • Short and petite women appear taller with small handbags and shorter with large handbags. A long rectangular shaped bag adds an illusion of height.
  • Curvy shapes are flattered by a medium sized bag with a little structure.
  • Tall and slim women appear larger with small handbags and look best with midsize, large and oversized styles. Slim body types can add curves with a round-shaped bag. A larger bag, especially with a long shape, elongates a tall silhouette.

The eye is drawn where the bag ends and emphasis is placed on that part of the body

  • Short handbags make busts appear larger, so choose styles with longer straps to avert attention from your bustline if it’s not a feature you want to highlight.
  • Be careful when choosing a crossbody bag; it can act like an arrow pointing to your hips – the widest part of your body.
  • Most women look good wearing handbags that hang to mid-torso.
  • Keep in mind that you want to draw attention to your favorite body feature.

When you are shopping for a new purse, try on the ones you like at the store just the way you do clothing. Look in the mirror: Does the shape of the bag compliment your figure? Where does the bag hit or end – is that an area to which you want to draw the eye? There are so many bag options that are fun – don’t be attracted to a bag just because it’s trendy if it doesn’t flatter your body type.

I think its good to remember, though, that sometimes bending the rules just works. Not sure? Bring a friend along who can help you choose the perfect bag.


Here are some popular handbag styles and shapes

Clutch – A small, hand-held bag or a larger, geometric shape that is tucked under the arm or carried in your hand


Baguette – Long and rounded shoulder bag resembling the namesake bread


Crossbody Bag – A bag – often smaller in size – that is worn across the body at an angle

longchamp-red-crossbody-bag longchamp-crossbody-bag

Cigar Box – A small, boxy, hard bag


Pouch – A soft, small bag


Hobo Bag – A rectangular or crescent-shaped shoulder bag – often soft and slouchy


Feedbag – A medium to large bag styled like a, well, feedbag


Satchel – A large, handheld bag – often structured.


Messenger Bag – A large, soft shoulder bag with long straps (often worn across the body)


Field Bag – A flap-top shoulder bag with utility-type closure (buckles, snaps, etc.)


Tote – An open-top bag with straps or handles



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