To have and to hold

While wallets or just pant or shirt pockets may do for gentlemen you would hardly see a lady going out without her bag or purse in which, besides the cash and credit cards she keeps other items of necessity. Let&’s see, there are the tissues, hand sanitizer, perfume or deodorant, compact mirror, lipstick, lip gloss or lip balm, band aid, hair items such as hair bands, clips or pins, safety pins, a sewing kit (maybe), chewing gum or peppermints, aspirin, a pen and a small diary or notebook and, of course – last but never least – a cell phone.

In fact when those wallet-carrying gentleman need something like a tissue or maybe need some aspirin, they ask the well-organised, resourceful lady next to them if they could help them out. Mind you, the stuff mentioned above doesn’t always make the contents of every lady&’s handbag. She could have a bit of this or a bit of that. Also, a mother&’s handbag will contain different things from a single girl&’s handbag.

Having said so much about handbag contents, let&’s now look at the kind of handbags out there.


Earlier, most purses used to be handheld with a couple of handles, one for either side to be held together and plenty of zipped pockets inside for organising your stuff. Considered fashionable and sturdy, too, ladies liked owning a black one and maybe another brown or white one to go with their entire wardrobe. But then they got tired of the sweaty palms and fingers constantly folded around the handles. And so over a period of time the handhelds started getting discarded in favour of other varieties, which allowed the hands to remain free. Still major designers like Louis Vuitton and Gucci are bringing them back. They are better known as speedy bags. And the bigger the better.


These don’t have any handles but are handheld. You are to, well, clutch them preferably from below. They are more of evening bags to accessorise evening wear and look like embellished envelopes. They also don’t have much room inside. You can just keep a few tissues or hanky and maybe a lipstick and compact mirror with your money and cell phone in them. Overloading them will make them bulge and lose their slim shape.

Tote and bucket bags

The bags, which look like decorated sacks with two small straps which you can also carry on the arm or shoulder are known as tote bags. Usually they are left open with no zip but just a clasp or button and look like grocery or shopping bags, which may not be too safe for carrying cash or other valuables, especially in crowded public places but fashion and style is fashion and style, right?

A variation of the tote bag is the bucket bag. Only they are closed with a draw string. Not only are they convenient, they also have capacity to carry loads of stuff including your lunch.

Cross body bags and pouches

Such bags usually have long straps and may also be carried over one shoulder. But since it is difficult to keep them from slipping off the shoulder again and again they can be worn more conveniently across the body. Pouches with long straps, too, can be worn this way.


They come in all sizes. The bigger ones are also a sports accessory and thus manufactured by many sports companies with airy material. But they also come in denim, leather, etc. You may not just use them for the usual stuff that you put in a purse, if big enough you may also hold another set of clothes, a jacket maybe another pair of footwear or put your laptop or tablet in your backpack for which some have special padded extra sleeves.

Coin purse

It&’s so difficult keeping track of stray coins in your big bags. Most of the time you are left fishing for these and somehow you can never locate a single coin inside your bag when you need it. So it is sensible to keep the loose change in a small purse which you can easily locate inside a bigger bag.


About Jack K. Harris

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