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Hot Handbags

Big is in

With gadgets getting smaller it's interesting that the hottest trend in handbags is "the bigger the better." Is it our our mobile lifestyles-the need to have essentials (ie, emergency sewing kit, makeup bag, mouthwash, Blackberry, personal hygiene items, cell phones, etc.) within reach at all times? Or, maybe we just want roomier bags (it's always nice knowing that if you need the space, it's there). Whatever the reason, handbags are as big as Texas. Oversized totes, hobo bags and Jackie O bucket and shoulder bags provide enough choices to accommodate business, casual and a night on the town.

"The hottest handbags are big, bigger, bigger," said Susan Sommer, former fashion editor turned fashion and business etiquette coach and founder of Dresszing, a wardrobing and visual communications company "Think oversized. Get to your essentials-wallet, keys, phone , compact and lipgloss-quickly by putting them in a small zippered case tucked inside. "

Mary Jo Matsumoto, whose bags have appeared on the arm of A-list stars, chimed in on the big bag phenomenon. "One of the biggest upcoming trends for bags is big, roomy, and black sack-like bags like the ones that Chanel put out this season. Also, oversized doctor's bags are a trend as seen in the Marc Jacobs collection for Louis Vuitton."

Okay, so we get that bags are big. What else is influencing top designers? Fortunately there is a lot of carryover from past seasons-so that metallic gold bag you got last year is back for a repeat performance. Neutral colors are always a safe bet, but with flashier twists, such as patent leather, you can have some fun too.

"The 80s influence are back again in the world of fashion," said Barbara Glass, Image & Wardrobe Consultant, Fashion Editor, and TV Fashion Reporter. "The spring and summer seasons kicked off with oversized straw and colorful canvas totes and the double-strapped pocketed schoolbag look in patent leather to hold your most basic essentials or flip-flops for when those wedge skyscrapers create pain with no relief."

When going out on the town, styles shift away from the gargantuan daytime bags. "For evening, try to simplify your life with one of the new mini bags, clutches or wristlets and find a deserving guy to carry wherever else it can't hold," Glass said. "Lipgloss, keys, breath mints and cab fare should be do the trick. Look for patent leather to be an important fabric in handbags and shoes for fall and winter. It's practical and has a retro influence."

Handbag designer Rebecca Ciccio says stick to the basics for a classic, sophisticated look. "For the fall, earthy colors like chocolate brown and camel are perfect, but black is definitely making a comeback." Metallics are still in favor with designers and consumers, so spice up that black dress or clinging cashmere v-neck with a metallic bag or clutch. "Metallics will show up for fall into holiday, in dark golds, bronze, and taupe, as well as some accent colors like plum and winter white. For play, a clutch in a fun and exotic material."

Matsumoto echoes Ciccio with her prediction about bold metallics and earth tones. "Another big trend that will be emerging as we move quickly from fall to Resort (that season started in November) is tons of silver and gunmetal, especially in day bags," she said. "Plus surprisingly, gray will be emerging as a major color in accessories."

9-5 It's a way to make a living

Listen up working girls. Women's business accessories are no longer dull and drab. With colors and designer details, you can make a style statement with your workbag.

"For work, large bags are still as strong as ever," Ciccio said. "There are many women in the work force who want to have a bag that will fit everything from their wallet and make-up case, to magazines or even a lap top. However, make sure the bags is not too big and over trendy. "

Believe it or not, the shelves are lined with colorful bags bearing crocodile prints or leather trimmed tweeds with gorgeous brushed silver hardware, all shaped into the season's must-have accessories. We're not talking about a women's specialty boutique – this is Staples.

Forget the unisex laptop bag – business women now have new choices that go well beyond the basic. Accessories are evolving new styles, finishes, color and fittings to match the best-dressed businesswoman.

Targus offers a pair of stylish business totes, each roomy enough to accommodate a laptop, plus cell phone, business cards and essential papers. The Quilted Messenger Bag shows the softer side of business. The satiny black nylon is criss-crossed with bright magenta stitching with a matching magenta lining. The bag is padded and has plenty of pockets for pens and accessories.

Buxton's Kelly Bag wraps practicality into a leather tote with a clean style. The Kelly Bag features a center zip pocket, a full-zippered main compartment, and a fully padded laptop section. Expandable utility loops, card and cell pockets give the Kelly bag plenty of carrying power. Available in red, dark brown and black.

Is your handbag still in style?

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