This fall, I’m happy to report that the bag scene has a little bit of everything — from whopping big bucket bags to slim clutches, and lots in between. This makes it easy to play one of my favorite tricks: Bring a mini bag with you to work in your maxi bag, and wear it to dinner. Voila! Bag multitask, accomplished.
Let’s start with the large-format bags first. Bucket bags are back — big time. And I love them. I can fit almost everything in them — iPad, makeup, shades, everything. The only downside is finding anything, since the style so often doesn’t have more than one pocket. That’s where the Slouchy Suede Tote ($164.97 at bananarepublic.gap.com) comes in. Not only is it fetching in a rich cognac color, it’s also a hybrid of the classic bucket bag and a tote bag. Under its zip closure it sports external and internal zip pockets so you can actually find your stuff. Problem solved.
A lot of bags this fall have checkered pasts — and presents, and futures. Yes, the black-and-white checked bag has emerged as a big winner this season with all kinds of different looks, and its classic and versatile pattern makes it perfect for any number of occasions. It’s buttoned-up and proper with jeans out on a museum visit. It’s a perfectly trim choice with a black dress for dinner (think Chanel’s flap bags). And it holds its own for coffee dates or shopping trips, when it’s a compact number like the Nico Bag ($349 on aninebing.com).
Beyond checks, even more patterns and textures make their way onto the fall options in woven versions—like Bembien’s Nell Woven Leather Clutch ($295 on saksfifthavenue.com). They’ve got huge visual interest, so even though they’re neutral (most are in blacks, browns, or natural cream hues), they often steal the show of anything they’re coordinated with.
Clutches are bigger (or, rather, smaller) than ever this autumn, and unsurprisingly, even more so for evening. But something interesting is going on with the details. Setting aside the crystal- and sequin-for-galas genre — which of course will always tend to be ornate — clutches these days are being used every day, and in textures like braided leathers and bold colors — a la the By Anthropologie Lindy Woven Clutch ($80 on anthropologie.com) in bubble gum pink, bright orange, and metallics like pure gold. They’re great to tote along for sunglasses, keys and lipsticks, or — as I mentioned above — simply to slip into your bigger bag and go.
And on the other end of size, shape and utility is the backpack — but not just any backpack. Designers are having fun with details, and luxurious nods to fancier bags, as with Longchamp’s Veau Foulonne Backpack ($630 on bloomingdales.com), a sleek, black design that punctuates every outfit by upgrading it with supple, beautiful leather. Ditto Coach’s Hitch Backpack In Signature Suede ($695 on coach.com), which ups the game of most backpacks by (like the aforementioned bucket bags) holding just about everything you need to look as pulled-together as the prettiest picture of fall.