The “It” Bag For Evening – The Clutch

Large handbags in a range of colors are de rigeur for today’s work or play. But when the sun goes down, dress-up and evening bags also have a distinctive look that defines them as au courant.

“The evening bag of the moment is a clutch,” declares Che, a Los Angeles designer and stylist for celebrities, who also works on large commercial campaigns. “Exotic skins like crocodile, washed lizard and python are popular right now.”

“Patent leather is very popular this spring and summer,” adds Daria Hines, personal stylist to Fergie, solo star and member of the multi-platinum-selling group Black Eyed Peas. “People want shiny—and colorful.” She also agrees that skins, like snakeskin are in great demand.

The reason clutches are in style, fashion experts contend, is that they look adorable, they’re lightweight and easy to carry, and they don’t detract from an outfit. Yet the reason they are so beloved—their small size—is also their biggest drawback. “A clutch doesn’t hold very much,” admits Che, referring to some of the smallest clutches that are fashionable this season. “Just keys, money, I.D. and lipstick.”

The good news, of course, is that if you’re out for just a few hours attending a party or an evening affair, odds are, you don’t need to carry very much. Whichever clutch you choose, however, you can always remind yourself that what your purse lacks in size, it makes up for in style.

Here’s a look at some of the dress-up evening bags of the moment:

For those who can spend a large amount of cash on a small purse, the top-of-the-line designers offer a myriad of choices. Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Fendi all offer amazing—and expensive—clutches in alligator and python, lambskin, calfskin, and patent leather.

A Fendi favorite is the crossword patent clutch, above ($920). Black patent panels have oversized coated leather Fendi letters (mirror-like in appearance) woven over the zip-top bag, which has a satin lining.

The priciest bags are certainly pretty, but most women don’t want to forfeit a fortune when buying a new party purse. Enter Hobo International, a company that offers stylish clutches at affordable prices. According to their Web site, www.hobobags.com, the line is designed by women for women. The Hobo Arden ($110) is a petite leather clutch which comes in black, cameo pink, celadon, linen, and sepia. The front of the clutch is adorned with a pretty big bow which dominates the face. The Madeleine ($115), also leather, comes in the same colors as the Arden, but features a silver circle belt buckle instead of bow. The Tina ($115) mirrors the Madeleine but is made of crinkle patent leather, and is offered in vivid colors, including citron, cobalt, and red.

Add a little spice to your evening with clutches by Lodis (www.lodis.com). The Slim Clamshell Clutch ($170) is patent leather with a glossy wave overlay and shiny nickel hardware. It has as a twist closure that opens or magnetic “wings” that open on both sides for convenient access to credit card slots, an ID window and bill compartments. A strap is also included. The Slim Clamshell comes in chartreuse, tangerine or baby blue.

Lodis also offers a more traditional Clamshell clutch ($138) in drum dyed red or black leather accented with taupe stitching with double sided magnetic closure, 14 credit card slots and a removable shoulder strap.

New York designer Betsey Johnson (www.betseyjohnson.com), “known for her celebration of the exuberant, the embellished, and the over the top,” according to the description on her Web site, presents the rather tame and classy Peddle Pusher Clutch ($195) in black and silver. Simple and elegant, the clutch is accented by a decorative belt buckle.

Another trendy choice for evening bags is a wristlet. Essentially the same size and shape as a clutch, it includes a small wrist strap, which comes in handy for dancing and most important, as a way to prevent you from leaving your bag behind.

When designing their bags, the go-to manufacturer of leather, Coach (www.coach.com) ensures each product embodies the perfect balance between aesthetics and functionality. The Zoe leather clutch ($258) is a sleek little bag combining a modern profile with timeless detailing. In Nappa leather with leather trim, it has an inside zip pocket, cellphone/multi-function pocket and turnlock closure. You can choose between chartreuse and brass. Also new from Coach are straw wristlets ($168) that feature metallic trim and chain straps; they’re available in bark, gold, grass and vermillion.

Prada’s Miu Miu line (www.miumiu.com) offers a funky metallic wristlet clutch ($170) This bag adds just the right zip to a basic black party dress.

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Celebratewithstyle.com is the first “guide to creating the celebrations that make life so much richer.” It features advice on planning memorable parties for family members and friends, as well as holiday, business, social, and fundraising events. The site offers ideas and advice from experts on festive foods, stylish décor, dress-up fashion, and beauty. It also provides party planning tools for kids’ birthdays, coming-of-age celebrations, and wedding-related festivities.

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