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Handbags turn ladylike for fall

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MARC JACOBS / ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Marc Jacobs Cardboard Gene bag in brown was presented during Fashion Week in New York.

NEW YORK » The hottest bags for fall are fit for a lady.

Replacing the large, heavily embellished bags of recent history are vintage-inspired ladylike models topped off with a handle or two.

The style offers a feminine contrast to fall’s menswear-inspired details, like strong-shouldered jackets, and complement the longer-length ’50s-style skirts being turned out in pinstripes and plaids.

"The new direction for handbags this season is a return to a structured, ladylike handbag," says Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus. "With the sharp tailoring and appreciation for men’s tailored details, the structured bag is the go-to bag."

Sister classic-silhouette satchels and frame bags had their place on the runway, too.

These bags all look right with of-the-moment fashion, but also go well with just about everything in your closet short of formal eveningwear, says Julia Kalachnikoff, accessories director for Lucky magazine. All retro in look, they are versatile enough for jeans but go through cocktails, she says.

Some of the latest options from designers such as Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and Prada recall the bags carried by gloved hands in the middle of the last century. Today’s versions, though, are anything but stuffy, and there’s plenty of room for all your stuff.

The bags are larger than those of the "Mad Men" era and are modernized with cell phone pockets, sleek hardware and mixed materials, Kalachnikoff says. Many of the satchels feature the now-ubiquitous crossbody strap.

"It’s a way of modernizing a shape that was big in the ’50s and ’60s," she explains.

Kalachnikoff calls the bags "the eventual backlash" against black and heavy hardware. "It’s nice to be cleaned up and keep things a little more simple."

There’s also a lighter palette.

"Camel is really the big hit color of the season," along with soft yellows, blues and greens, she says. "There are lots and lots of neutrals. Everything is just a little bit muted."

Neiman’s is featuring the trend in all shades of green, especially olive, a reflection of the latest infatuation with the military look. The greens work well with popular apparel colors, including browns and camels as well as bright jewel tones like saffron and paprika. "Olive has a newness to it," Downing says. "It becomes a neutral for the season."

There are always other bag shapes to buy, just in case you’re looking for something different:

» Strips of fringy leather have been around since the Wild West but they’re getting the luxury treatment on handbags. Jimmy Choo, Prada and Fendi are all offering a fringe bag or two for fall.

"They’re definitely luxe-ing them up and making it modern," Kalachnikoff says.

Fringe is emerging and will likely grow into a full-blown trend by spring, adds Neiman’s Downing. "It’s a nod to the peasant-inspired looks of Yves Saint Laurent, made famous in the ’70s with flounced skirts and off-the-shoulder tops."

"I feel we will be seeing this boho spirit on the runways for spring with fringe details on handbags," he says. "It plays hand in hand with the ideas designers are proposing going forward."

» A chic, envelope-style clutch tucked under your arm exudes elegance but it’s largely been a nighttime look — until recently.

"Instead of being in evening fabrics, like sequins and satin, there’s a lot of rich leather and the shapes are a little bit bigger and suitable for day," says Kalachnikoff.

Downing agrees that carrying no-strap clutches during the day is catching on.

But, he allows, they’re not always practical.

Leave a larger tote in the car and pull out the clutch when you’re ready to make an entrance, Downing recommends, adding: "There’s never not a reason for a clutch."

 

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