‘‘‘If the re-emergence of maximalist trends is any indication of what it means to get dressed up in 2021, post-lockdown fashion is shaping up to be decidedly more exciting than what you’ve gotten used to. Dinner dates and work events are back on the table, so it’s likely your shopping habits have shifted from a focus on basics to a hunt for the perfect going-out outfit. Alongside amassing a new stash of cut-out dresses and mesh tops, a return to extravagance may call for updating your handbag collection as well. While you may be ready to grab just about anything that sparkles at this point, there are actually a few bases to cover first when it comes to picking out the perfect going-out handbag.
According to experts, considering the nature of the event is imperative — no two occasions are created equal, and thus, not every evening bag works in a given situation. As such, a number of questions come into play: Will you be sitting down a majority of the night? Will you need free hands at any point? What does your bag need to carry? Will your daytime festivities run seamlessly into the evening? “If I’m going to a formal dinner, I am more inclined to choose a bag that acts as a table accessory, sitting atop the table and lending itself well to conversation,” suggests Jasmine Larian, the founder of Cult Gaia, a label famous for its structural designs. Once you’ve outlined what role the bag will play in your evening (and ensemble), then you’ll be able to find the design that’s right. Just remember: while you may feel inclined to go right for the brightest, sparkliest thing in your closet, make sure it will serve its purpose — to carry your necessities — too. Below, you’ll find four designer tips that outline exactly how to solidify your pick. Feel free to peruse some of the best going-out handbags on the internet along the way. This time around, you may even want more than one.
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For the fashion-conscious, a going-out outfit is meant to stand out, so the accompanying handbag has one job, to make a statement. At Cult Gaia, which is loved for its nature-inspired accessories and ready-to-wear, the concept of handbags as distinctive wearable art is essential to the brand’s DNA. Functionality then is but an added bonus. According to Larian, certain events allow the aesthetics of a handbag to take precedence over its function — like a sit-down dinner or house party where you can use the bag as a talking point. After playing it safe for the year, there’s no better time to whip out the brand’s spherical, pearl-reminiscent handbag, or its giant seashell-inspired clutch.
Though a bag’s appearance may grab your attention first, aesthetics and practicality are still nip and tuck when it comes to selecting a going-out handbag you’ll actually enjoy carrying. Designer Gayatri Chopra, who co-founded handbag label Simitri alongside her sister-in-law Simran Kaur, tells TZR convenient sizing should be at the top of your checklist. “A bag might be absolutely gorgeous to look at, but if it can’t hold what you need or doesn’t close properly, it can become a serious frustration that ruins your night,” Chopra tells TZR. “You won’t end up carrying it again.”
Adorable as they may be, if you’ve ever carried an ultra mini handbag (the kind that welcomes little more into its space than a credit card), you’ve likely experienced firsthand the feeling of wishing you’d gone with something a bit roomier. Petite, yet spacious, Simitri’s handmade clutches land on the perfect middle ground. There’s no compromise where style is concerned either, as grandiose embellishments — think metal fringe, beaded embroidery, and all-over sequins — are an unwavering trademark of the brand.
Contrary to the image the term may invoke, evening handbags don’t have to be doused entirely in embellishments to fit the occasion. For any number of reasons, you may want to consider an option with a bit more fluidity. With 0711 Tbilisi, the Georgian brand helmed by co-creative directors Nino Eliava and Ani Mokia, you’ll find handbags on either end of the spectrum, but Eliava suggests thinking of your next night-out bag as an investment piece that offers maximum wear. “They should be effortlessly versatile and should easily serve as an accessory for day and night looks,” she tells TZR. The idea of what such a versatile bag may look like leans on personal preference, but 0711 Tbilisi nails the concept with many of its styles by marrying statement and minimal elements together. For a handbag you can take from lunch all the way through to the nighttime function, consider opting for one with a leather or satin body as opposed to bead or sequin-encrusted. Instead, let a statement shoulder strap steal the show for an end result that’s easy to dress up without feeling limited to special occasions.
You’re encouraged to tote a hand-held objet d’art to a formal dinner, but you may reach for the opposite for an event where you’re planning on showing off your moves rather than your bag (or, you know, both). Accessory brand Rosantica’s hands-free evening bags allow you to wear them on the go — a happy medium. “I always make sure that even a formal clutch has the option of a crossbody chain or strap in case I decide to go wild on the dance floor,” Michela Panero, creative director of the brand tells TZR. “I can [then] move and dance without worrying about losing it or putting it down.” While crossbody bags are often more casual, the strategic designs at Rosantica are anything but. Some of its crossbody styles are reminiscent of its top handle bags, with soft, satin pouches tucked inside a crystal net, while its other crossbody styles take on whimsical shapes like embellished popsicle or popcorn designs.