This post was created in partnership with SUSU Handbags and eAccountable.
All opinions are my own.
Do you carry the same purse or handbag each day? What color is that bag? A safe neutral? Or a bright and colorful alternative?
Years ago, Fashion (yes, with a capital F, because I think it has it’s own beast of a persona) dictated that purses, shoes and belts all matched and meticulously coordinated with the rest of the outfit. Consequently, our grandmothers carried bags in neutral colors like black and brown to prevent from having to own a billion hand bags in every color under the sun to match every outfit in their closet.
As fashion and style have evolved, our moms started owning bags in slightly more interesting yet still very safe colors. Dark red and navy gained some momentum. But the purse section at most stores, when I was a kid at least, still seemed pretty subdued.
Boring Colored Bag, No Longer!
Well, my friends. Boring colored bags, no longer! Along with just about every other “fashion” rule that used to exist, that matchy matchy bag, belt, and boot business is out the door. Handbags come in every color under the sun and people wear all sorts of bright colors that suit their fancy even if it doesn’t perfectly coordinate with their coat and dress of the day.
Having no fear of color, as you already know from my apparently Skittles-inspired Gallery, I’m here to share some ways to incorporate a bright bag into your work wardrobe. On the weekends, just about anything goes. At the office, we have lots of discretion but some things still remain a bit off-limits. I wouldn’t, for example, show up to an important client meeting in my suit and heels with a hello kitty bright pink mini backpack. Ain’t gonna work. But with the right colors and styles, all sorts of options exist to experiment around the color wheel with your professional bag of choice. So let’s begin!
The Perfect Work Bag
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Alright, you’re back. In that outfit, I opted for a nice red bag. The red provides a great pop of color in a warmer shade of red. And I think most reds would be appropriate for the office. Just be careful not to veer too far off into the “pink” zone. Some pinks are great, but a fun bubblegum pink (like the aforementioned Hello Kitty variety) probably will appear a bit immature if you’re going for the “professional” look.
In that “qualities of a great professional bag” post, I shared about the perfect bag that I found. If you love that bag, I mentioned in the post that SUSU had a very similar bag that would be a perfect alternative. Lo and behold, SUSU reached out and offered to provide me that bag to share more about it with you. Now, I can truly vouch for the quality of the bag and that it will make a great bag for work.
I’ve been using the bag for several days now, and have really liked it. It meets all my “perfect work bag qualities.” I used it for a recent week long business trip and it held everything I needed including my computer. The only caveat regarding this bag is that the dark interior makes it hard to find your “junk” buried at the bottom f the bag sometimes. But that aside, I had more than enough space to zip the bag and have enough room for my laptop and other necessities like a wallet, phone, folder or folio, a pen or two, and even a pair of flats. (And don’t forget that bag of homemade trail mix my mom made for me that had extra dark chocolate M&Ms ~ score!)
Color Choice – Green with Envy
Already owning a red bag, I opted for the green version. I absolutely LOVE this color. I know it’s not necessarily the color of choice for many people, initially, but it’s really quite versatile. When paired with traditional fall colors like burgundy, navy, orange, and camel, it appears subdued and very “fall-like.” With it’s chameleon-like color, however, it takes on a pastel and spring-inspired appearance when paired with other pastels and more traditional spring time colors. I’m not one to switch out my closet between seasons. I’d prefer, instead, to own clothes that have more versatility and can be worn year round when properly paired or layered with other items in my closet. This bag will absolutely work for any season.
If green isn’t your jam, you’ve already been introduced to my red bag. I also have purple and coral bags for added inspiration. You can check out how I styled the purple bag with a bright colored summer dress as well as some patterned pants for brunch on a cool spring day. Or stop to see how I paired the coral bag with a dressier and colorful summer style as well as some neutral tones for fall.
I also wore my purple bag when I was featured in Crain’s Chicago Business Journal as the week’s Business Model. (Pretty cool, right??!)
Bright Bags ~ Styling Tricks
The slideshow includes 4 different ways to ensure you can pull off a bright colored bag with your work outfit without a hitch. Here’s a breakdown of each outfit in more detail. You’ve already seen three of the outfits in prior posts, but I wanted to restyle them for you to truly show you how the color combinations work.
Pair with Neutrals
Along with all black and gray (and a tiny bit of hardly noticeable purple from the belt), the green bag serves as essentially the only lick of color in this look. I’d consider this the easiest way to incorporate a punch of bright color into your work wear. Neutrals match most any color so it’s hard to go wrong. This would work with warmer brown tones as well.
This fall-inspired combination pairs complementary colors, two colors falling on opposite sides of the color wheel. I’m no color theory expert, so stop on over to Into Mind for her Intro to Color Theory article. It’s a great starting point for growing your style and color matching skills beyond the basics. (And believe you me, I started from ground zero. Well, probably somewhere in negative territory because I really used to suck at matching colors, but I digress…)
The orange and navy paired with the green bag work because they all have similar levels of saturation (defined by Into Mind in the aforementioned article).
And just like I discussed earlier, when paired with traditional fall colors, this green color fits in perfectly, right? Check out more outfit details when I wore this dress, tights, and boots combination previously (pregnant and just back from a little blogging hiatus I took about a year ago).
I originally wore this outfit for a date out with M. The outfit includes colors that exist near each other on the color wheel (red/orange and yellow) and then continue to move along the color wheel into hues of green. The important factor here, similar to above, is the saturation. Because all the colors have high levels of saturation, they work together. And that works for me!
Match the Pattern
Almost as easy as the first option to pair with neutrals, take a look at the other colors in your outfit, particularly if one of the pieces includes a colorful pattern like this dress. Generally, you can snag any color from the pattern or print and match the bag to that color. It’s grown “uncool” to be too matchy matchy, so don’t go overboard with this. But you can see that the bag flows right into the dress as it blends with the green aspects of the print.
So there you have it. Four easy options for pairing a bright bag with your work attire. If I can make it work with this green SUSU bag, you can surely execute this color pairing strategy with just about any bag for which you develop a fancy.
Now you’ve got some ideas about how to incorporate all sorts of color into your wardrobe. And of course we can all find a boatload of styles to mix with neutral handbags for sure. With the juices flowing, why not take a peek at this SUSU bag I showcased and all the other products they offer?
Additionally, SUSU has generously offered a giveaway for one lucky winner to receive the bag of their choice. So check out what they have, find the bag you love, and enter for a chance to win something nice for yourself while you’re shopping for everyone else on your list this holiday season!
Giveaway is open to continental US residents only and ends 12/31/14.