Talk about dream bags, this Kelly croc would be it for me! The navy is classic and timeless, chic and fashionable.

I just received my summer copy of Bergdorf Magazine in the mail this week and I always look forward to reading it, not because it will show me the latest in fashion, but for the imaginative selection of essays and interviews. In this particular issue, there was a wonderful essay entitled, “A Man Looks Into Handbags” by David Coggins, on the mystery of a woman’s purse. It was perfect timing because I happened to read it just after purchasing a new handbag (technically a tote) that I had had my eye on for some time and I was feeling a little bit guilty. I think reading the piece provided me with just the validation I needed to turn my shame into sureness.

They say you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes and I feel the same way about a woman and her handbag. Is she the laid back and casual type? Does she shun upscale designer bags in favor of affordable, sensible ones? Is she over the top and has the Hermes store on her speed dial? No matter what the style, the price or the preference, a woman’s handbag is sacred and it’s contents supreme. Let’s take a look at some popular bag types, where they should rest and what they should contain.

Most Popular Bag Styles: The Handbag, The Tote & The Clutch

A well-groomed woman finds it virtually impossible to own just one bag for all occasions and ensembles which is why there are three main categories of bag: the handbag, the tote and the clutch to choose from. She notices the craftsmanship and understands that one quality-made handbag will outlast three or four mediocre ones. Personally, I look at a handbag purchase as an investment especially if I choose one that is classic over trendy.

Size Matters

The size of the bag should be directly in proportion with your own. At my height, there is no way for me to rock a gargantuan tote, it would look ridiculous, but some of my taller friends, no problem! The most elegant bag is minuscule in size and is reserved for the most formal of occasions as compared to the larger tote model which is often used for everyday.

A Bag for Every Season

Since bags come in all shapes and sizes, it is wise to have an assortment in your arsenal for all seasons and occasions. (1) a large tote bag for travel or casual wear, (2) a practical leather handbag in neutral tones of either black, brown or beige to wear with urban ensembles, (3) a fine evening purse of silk, satin or velvet in black or dyed to match a cocktail party dress or coat, and a (4) straw handbag to accessorize an outfit for summer.

Everything But the Kitchen Sink

For those that own the most multitasking shoulder bag of all, a/k/a the tote, there is the big question of how much is too much? Haven’t we all witnessed friends digging for hidden treasure in their bags only to get insanely frustrated because they can’t find what they’ve been searching for! Michelle Pfeiffer portrayed it best in one of my favorite movies, “One Fine Day,” when she pulled out a selection of items that ranged from snacks and Band Aids to pantyhose and enough crazy items to put together a last minute Halloween costume. Just because a bag is big doesn’t obligate us to throw our entire lives in there before leaving the house.

The Essentials

So what are the must haves? The bare minimum: keys, wallet and cell phone. Keeping up appearances: lipstick or gloss, small comb, compact mirror, tissues, hand creme, chewing gum or mints and perhaps a small perfume sample. When inspiration strikes: a notepad and pen (b/c you don’t want to reach for the lip pencil), agenda/calendar if separate from your phone. For the professional: business cards. As a special treat: I like to keep a couple of emergency lollipops (Tootsie or Blow Pops are the best!) on hand. You never know when you’ll be stuck in traffic. Just a clutch: lipstick, cell phone, cash, credit card, ID & keys.

Where to Place Your Handbag

When walking: your handbag should be situated in your left hand in the crook of your left elbow, or on your left shoulder. Your clutch should also be held in your left hand. The reason for the placement on the left side is so that if you are socializing you may easily offer your right hand to greet someone without having to move your bag out of the way.

When dining: the most important thing to remember is that your bag should never sit on top of the table. It is considered incredibly rude. No matter how beautiful or special it is, unless it’s a centerpiece it does not belong there. All shoulder bags, handbags and totes should also never be hung or slung over your chair. The only time you can hang a purse on the back of your chair is if your back is to the wall. The proper placement for these bags is either on a vacant chair or stool (if one is available) or placed on the floor at your feet to the left. Since the clutch is considerably smaller, it may simply rest it in your lap underneath the napkin and hidden under the table.

For Good Luck

There is an old Chinese proverb that states “a purse on the floor is money out the door.” If you follow Feng Shui, you may want to refrain from putting your purse on the floor. The Chinese believe that putting your purse on the floor shows disrespect for the order of things, as well as disregard for your wealth and money. If you don’t care about the Feng Shui, but are not okay with collecting germs, dirt or bacteria on your purse from a dirty floor, then a good solution to both of these problems is to purchase a purse hook. A purse hook slips easily onto the edge of the table and has a hook on the other end for your purse to hang by its strap. It’s a bit tacky, but it does the trick!

Where do you put your purse? What are your essential items? In need of a purse hook? This site has a great selection