Many women struggle to pick a handbag for work that is useful every day. We have compiled a list of all the things you should consider when buying a new work bag so you it fits as many requirements tailored to your job as possible.
Begin by thinking through which things you are likely to carry back and forth between your flat and the office every day. Some things you might consider are:
- Change of clothes
- Gym clothes
- Makeup and toiletries
- Client materials
- Pens, credit cards and keys
- Food and water bottle
Do you have a locker at work where you can keep things?
If you have a changing room at work with a designated locker to leave things overnight, you can be a lot more flexible with the bag you choose.
You might be able to store both toiletries, shoes and a change of clothes there, which means you don't have to drag them with you in your handbag every day.
Just make sure you have enough space to bring things back and forth from the locker and your home if you need to change what you keep there.
Structured or soft handbags
The type of things you bring will also affect the style of bag you should pick. If most of the things you need for work are soft, like clothes or fabrics, you can go for a softer style like a hobo bag.
If you carry more electronics that need support so they don't fall over, you should consider going with a more structured bag where there's a hard filling behind the leather that keeps the bag upright when you're not holding it.
You should also consider how likely it is that you will bump into things with your bag and scratch it. Soft leather can feel very nice, but if you leave your office frequently for meetings and bring your bag with you, you might be better off choosing a harder leather with small pebbles so scratches are less visible.
How many compartments and pockets do you need
If you're bringing different sets of things that you don't want to mix, you need to look out for a bag with separate compartments.
You don't want to risk damaging your laptop with spilt food or a water bottle falling over it while you run to catch your train. The risk of this decreases if you have multiple compartment, or if you have a bottle holder to keep your water bottle upright.
If you keep many small things in your bag like keys, headphones, makeup and credit cards, you should look for a bag with several interior pockets so you don't have to search for them at the bottom of your bag every time you need them.
To find the optimal set of handbag compartments for you, read here.
Do you need a shoulder strap or not
You also need to take into account that different bags are designed with different ways of carrying them in mind. If you are carrying a heavy load each day, you need to make sure the bag is comfortable to use.
The different ways of carrying a bag will usually be either
- one short top handle to hold in your hand
- a slightly larger handle to put in the nook of your harm
- a longer shoulder strap that goes over just one shoulder
- an adjustable shoulder strap to use either cross-body or over one shoulder
- a bag that can be adjusted for you to use as a laptop backpack
You need to choose your favourite way of carrying it, but note that it's better to have more than one way so you can change it based on how heavy your bag is.
Read more about the pros and cons of the different style of straps and handles here.
How big is your laptop?
The deciding piece to the handbag puzzle is often how big your work computer is. Many professional women need to carry laptops that are either 14, 15 or 16 inches. And yet, the vast majority of work bags for women don't fit a laptop.
The inches of a screen is measured across the diagonal of the computer and can mean a different length and width depending on the brand. Make sure you measure the computer or check with the producer so you know how much space you need.
You want to be able to put it in your bag without having it sticking out and stopping you from closing it.
What do you have to bring into meetings
If you never bring your handbag into meetings at work, you have a lot more flexibility when it comes to choosing one. You can for example have a more casual gym bag that fits everything.
But if you need to bring your laptop, client materials like pitch books etc. into meetings, you want to have a proper-sized work bag for this.
If you're wearing a sharp suit to feel confident in meetings, you also want to make sure your bag looks good enough to cut your finger on.
Which colours are your work clothes
The style of clothes you wear is also important to consider when choosing a handbag for work. Are you an investment banker or lawyer mostly dressed in dark blue suits, or are you the artsy type who gets to show off her creativity with her style?
If your clothes are conservative, you might want to stay off huge logos and branded canvas and pick a colour that goes well with what you wear to work most days.
Note that this doesn't have to be black, but it's good to know you get a lot of wear out of the bag.
Could you be asked to go on last-minute business trips?
If you often go on work trips, you will want a bag that's practical when you fly or travel with a suitcase. Does it have a way to fasten it to your suitcase when you're rolling it on the plane?
This could either be a back pocket that opens on both sides, or it can be a strap to tread the handle of your suitcase into.
Either way, you want to make sure you don't get stuck carrying the suitcase and handbag separately, leaving you with zero arms to show your passport or ticket when boarding.
You also need to check that your handbag fits the size requirements of most airlines you will be travelling with. You don't want to be delayed getting to a meeting because you had to check in your bag instead of bringing it as carry-on. There's really no worse start to a business trip than making all your colleagues show up late!
If you want more inspiration on how to style your handbag for work, check out our Instagram. Click here to browse our line of fashionable and practical designer bags.