Bag & Shoes

How To Choose the Right Bag for Your Body

Street Style: Day 7 PFW SS16
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Consider something for a moment. You probably don't give handbags the same scrutiny you give a pair of jeans, right? If a handbag is chic or works with your lifestyle... Well, then it works!

But did you know that a handbag can flatter your shape almost as much as the right pair of jeans?

We kid you not! Apply these easy steps to find a bag that's in proportion to your figure. It can not only knock off pounds visually (no seriously!), it'll also polish up your style in a flash.

Handbag Shapes vs. Body Shapes

If you are trying to play down a body type, choose a shape that is the opposite of your body silhouette. For example, if you are very tall and thin, you can add a slouchy, rounded hobo bag to add some curves to your figure. If you're short and curvy, play off opposites by choosing a handbag that is tall and rectangular or long and sleek (like a clutch).

In general, the rounder your figure, the more structured your bag should be. That doesn't mean that you have to carry a hard box around to counterbalance your womanly shape: rectangular or square silhouettes in soft leathers or fabrics will do the trick. For example, a petite, curvy figure (like Kim Kardashian or Adele) would look great carrying a large rectangular clutch bag.

Are you confused by the terminology when it comes to handbags? Here are some popular shapes:

  • The Tote: An open-top bag with straps or handles.
  • The Hobo bag: A crescent-shaped shoulder bag. This style is often soft and slouchy.
  • The Duffle: A tall shoulder, bag, often with a wider opening on top.
  • The Field bag: A flap-top shoulder bag with utility-type closure (buckles, snaps, etc).
  • The Clutch: A small, handheld bag or a larger, geometric shape that is tucked under the arm or carried in your hand.
  • The Satchel: A large, handheld bag. Many satchels are structured.
  • The Baguette: Long and rounded shoulder bag resembling the namesake bread (and made famous by Fendi).
  • The Messenger bag: A large, soft shoulder bag one long strap worn across the body.
  • The Cigar Box: A small, boxy, hard bag, also called a minaudiere.
  • The Pouch: A soft, small bag.
  • The Kelly bag: A classic Hermes style named after Grace Kelly; a large, structured handbag with distinctive hardware closures—it's so unique it has it's own category.
  • The Crossbody bag: A bag—often mini in size—that is meant to be worn across the body on a long strap or chain.

All About Scale

Will the right bag make you look thinner? Not exactly, but it can flatter your shape. While the shape should oppose your body type for maximum flattery, the size of the bag should be in proportion to your figure.

Think about scale here: A woman who is 6 feet tall and a size 14 would look lost with a teensy hand-held bag. A petite size 0 would look overwhelmed by an enormous slouchy bag. A shoulder bag's length (where the bottom of the bag hits your body) will accentuate whatever part of the body it comes near.

For example, a shoulder bag that ends around the hips will play up your hip width (the eye is drawn to the bag).

Most women look great with a bag that hits mid-torso because it flatters the waist.

Crossbody bags are difficult to carry off for busty women because the strap cuts right across the bust line.

A Few More Tips

  • Take time in a store to try on handbags in front of a mirror just like you would apparel.
  • Don't be tempted by trendy shapes that don't suit your figure: there are plenty of great alternatives that will work.
  • Think lifestyle when shopping for handbags: if you're toting diapers and graham crackers, an artsy vintage bag won't hold up.

How to Select the Right Shoes for your Clothing

Woman selecting outfit from colorful wardrobe of dresses and shoes.
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The first step in selecting the best shoes is choosing shoes that complement your clothing, rather than ones that compete with your outfit.

For that reason, we always recommend pairing busier shoes with simple outfits and wearing simple shoes with clothing that features a lot of prints, embellishments or dynamic accessories. It can be tricky to find shoes that complement your clothing, without dominating or being overpowered by it, but the reality is, it's a simple balancing act.

  • When you look in the mirror, does one element of your outfit stand out more than the others?
  • Is your outfit too chaotic? i.e. Are the sequins on your shoes competing with the crystals on your dress?
  • Do your shoes and clothing blend together too much? i.e. Do your black pants, black turtleneck, and black booties all look like one long bodysuit?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, then the quickest way to pull together a cohesive look is to simply try on another pair of shoes, and ask yourself the questions again.

What's the Occasion?

It doesn't matter how pretty they are, how comfortable they feel, or how discounted they were when you bought them—if they don't fit the event, the environment, and the occasion, then they are—at least temporarily—the wrong shoes.

Glitzy evening shoes have no place in the office, and flip-flops aren't generally considered acceptable for a formal event. So how do you know which shoes you should wear?

Well, the simplest approach would be to wear simple loafers or ballet flats for casual events, and classic pumps for anything dressy—but that can get a little boring. If you want to play it safe without giving into tedium, go ahead and wear those widely-accepted styles but choose a unique color, or a pair that is embellished with a chic buckle or another accent.

If you want to make a more dramatic statement, by all means, pair stilettos with your jeans, and sandals with your suits—but to avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention, you should still stick with shoes that are well-suited to your environment.

Think about the day's events and locations. For example, if an outing to the park is on the agenda, then it's probably not a heels kind of day—but where you really need to pay attention to which shoes you choose is at work, and at formal events.

The Right Shoes for your Clothing: Dressing in Season

Of course they'll be times when you'll wear a pair of evening sandals when it's cold outside, and you might even wear flip-flops long after the official end of summer—but if, for example, you're wearing Fall clothing, the easiest way to select a pair of complimentary shoes, is to choose shoes that look like Fall shoes.

For instance, a pair of brocade pumps will look far more at home with a velvet evening suit than a pair of skimpy sandals will—and those suede boots that you looked great in all winter should be put away with your heavy coats.

But it is worth noting that some shoes, like leather pumps, that are truly multi-seasonal, and weather permitting, there's no reason you can't wear open toes through Fall.

The Right Shoes for your Clothing: The Best Colors

Black shoes are extremely versatile, but we believe that the real reason for the popularity of black shoes is that people are afraid of choosing the wrong color shoes for their clothing.

But take it from us, colorful shoes are a great way to bring color to your wardrobe. You can wear shoes in colors that you wouldn't dream of wearing near your face.

Here are a few tips on which shoe colors go best with certain clothing colors.

  • Black shoes: nearly anything except pastels and some earth tones -- but even then, if black is repeated elsewhere in the outfit, black shoes can be a dynamic choice.
  • Brown shoes: shades of tan, brown, beige, orange, greens, and darker earth tones.
  • Tan/Light Brown shoes: lighter earth tones, blue, beige, lighter tan or white.
  • Cream/Taupe shoes: whites, light neutrals, and pastels.
  • White shoes: light neutrals, brights, and pastels.
  • Silver shoes: pastels, as well as with white, black, blues and purples.
  • Gray shoes: blacks, blues, grays, reds, as well as some purples and yellows.
  • Gold shoes: greens, reds, browns, and they usually look good with black and white as well.

Even less common shoe colors are simple to match to your clothing. If a color is present in your outfit, you can repeat it in your shoes. If the shoe color isn't in your outfit, you can rely on matching "values" (deep with deep, light with light, etc.), and other color theory rules.

Artists use a color wheel to determine how one color will work with another. Complementary colors (those that are opposite of each other on the color wheel) will create a bold contrast when paired together, while colors that are next to each other will create a more harmonious look.