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We asked Cassandra Connors, style expert and director of Bella Bag, the second largest online seller of authentic pre-owned luxury handbags and accessories, to share her top four must-have handbags. "Not every woman will be able to afford dozens of bags for every single occasion and moment of her life, says Connors, "but you can narrow it down to four that will work for most people."
1. The flap shoulder bag
The flap shoulder bag, made classic by Chanel, is the number one style on our list -- and with good reason. "With the flap shoulder bag you not only have a functional day bag, but you have a gorgeous statement piece that can transition from day to night," says Connors. "These bags often have lovely chain-strap detailing and diamond quilting patterns throughout the body of the bag. They are feminine, timeless and large enough, but not too big."
This is a bag you can take to the office, and then easily sport for post-work cocktails. If Chanel doesn't quite fit into your fashion budget, opt for a pre-owned piece, or scour stores such as Zara or Mango for an affordable but eye-catching option.
2. The cross-body bag
Connors loves the cross-body bag for its versatility, comfort and range of designs. The main feature of the bag is the long strap that allows it to be worn across your body, but otherwise size, colour and design features can vary.
"Not only does it come in a variety of styles and sizes, but lately we've even been seeing the cross-body bag getting pretty fancy for nighttime," she says. "All over the place women are now carrying long-strapped mini cross-body bags to evening affairs."
If you're looking for something solely for daytime, Connors' current favourite is the Saumur Bag from Louis Vuitton. "The Saumur bag is the perfect piece for someone who loves LV patterns and print, but is looking for a hands-free option with plenty of space," she says. "It has two back and front compartments for iPads, laptops and cosmetics."
For something more affordable, look into the plethora of lower price point cross-body bags at stores such as Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and J.Crew.
Page 1 of 2 -- Find out which other two classic bags you should consider adding to your purse collection on page 2.
3. The oversize tote
Headed to work? Going to the beach? Or do you have a family outing to pack for? For any woman on the go the ultimate multipurpose, go-anywhere bag is an oversize tote.
"Throw everything you have inside, clip your keys to a key ring and you're good to go," says Connors. "An oversize tote can be a jumbled mess on the inside but look neat as can be to the rest of the world."
Look for a bag with multiple inside pockets and straps long enough that carrying it is comfortable. It should be made out of a durable material, like canvas, and be a classic colour that will look great whatever the season, such as plum, taupe, beige or basic black. Craving a pattern? Polka-dots are fun for summer, as are nautical stripes or even colour blocking.
4. The clutch
Last but not least, everyone should have at least one clutch, says Connors. After all, if you're on a date or at a cocktail party, you don't want to be stuck lugging around an oversize bag.
When it comes to what type of clutch to buy, Connors suggests something shiny, classic and definitely durable. "Opt for a material like a pebbled grain or patent leather that will last," she says. An envelope clutch is always a timeless (and versatile) choice that comes in an array of colours and finishes. It you're looking for something more eye-catching, consider a style with embellishments such as beading or studs.
A clutch can also be a multipurpose accessory, says Connors. "During the day, fill your clutch with your cash or toiletries and pop it into your oversize tote, cross-body or flap bag to double as an interior organizer," she explains.
Whether you're going to work, heading to the mall, eating out with friends for lunch or attending a formal function, one of these four purses is sure to be appropriate for the occasion -- and will also help enhance your look overall.
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