Up until recently, you were more likely to find a ladylike bag buried in your grandmother's closet than swinging from trendsetters' arms¬--but those days are over, dear readers. The prim-and-proper purse has gone from overlooked to on-trend and is currently gearing up for its moment in the spotlight. That's right, these elegantly structured options have made their (perfectly poised) way to the forefront of the handbag scene. While we spotted this sophisticated accessory on ladies like Rachel Bilson and Diane Kruger back in June, this polished accent made an equally graceful appearance as a key component on the fall runways. Major designers¬--including Yves Saint Laurent's Stefano Pilati, Louis Vuitton's Marc Jacobs, and Lanvin's Alber Elbaz¬--used these structured leather shoulder bags to compliment their equally refined F/W 10 collections.
While these bags are spot-on investments for fall, they are likewise a perfectly stellar choice for upgrading your end-of-summer wear! Take, for example, British TV presenter and correspondent Fearne Cotton, who was spotted earlier this month carrying Mulberry's Neely Shoulder Bag ($995) in Steel Patent. The vintage-inspired blue/gray satchel adds polish to her Mulberry Betty Bow Shorts and Mesh Zig Zag Jersey T-Shirt ($31) from her eponymous line, giving her outfit a classic touch. Additionally, we like how Cotton used the gorgeous bag¬--which was inspired by and named after Neely O'Hara, the best character in Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls¬--in contrast with her edgier footwear choice: KG by Kurt Geiger's Lupin Black Sandals ($45) from the S/S 09 collection. All in all, Cotton's summer-in-the-city apparel proves this unfussy accessory is the perfect pick to both smarten up your warm-weather wardrobe and to nod to what's ahead for fall, rendering it a must-have item you absolutely need to Go Buy Now!
1. Rebecca Minkoff Alligator Belle Bag ($350) in Brown
Ever since Rebecca Minkoff launched her handbag line in 2005, we've had an eye out for her dazzling leather goods, which are ideal for a stylish city-girl on the go. Thus, we were hardly surprised to come across this first-rate day-to-night-worthy offering that we can't wait to get our ladylike¬--ahem¬--paws on. Not only does it boast a turn-lock closure (one of the defining aspects of this accessory trend), but the terra-cotta hue conjures up images of Hermes orange, a reference that is toujours chic! Wear it for day with a swingy floral skirt, or, if you're feeling bold, pair it with a Bermuda shorts-suit for a directional urban look.
2. CC Skye Town & Country Bag ($750, 818.506.3235)
Just like CC Skye's dazzling costume jewelry, this black-and-taupe bag comes with a signature dose of glam. While its shape nods to the classic doctor bag, its gold hardware and high-contrast neutral palette make it decidedly modern. Use it to elevate a cr√®me knit suit for a Dolce & Gabbana-like day look, or pair it with a draped-shoulder LBD and elbow-length gloves for a Lanvin-esque evening ensemble.
3. Mulberry Neely Shoulder Bag ($995) in Nude Patent
We just can't get enough of Mulberry's handbags¬--but who can blame us? Their F/W 10 collection is truly exquisite, boasting stellar finds like this chic flap bag that can be worn both over-the-shoulder or as a messenger bag. In addition to nude, this must-have offering comes in navy/steel or red leather (a cutting-edge combination that has already sparked our radar for fall), plus there's a larger leopard tote too! Wear any of the colors now with your favorite summery dresses, then pair the patent bags with some wide-leg tweed pants come fall: either way, you'll look ridiculously chic. That said, if you're looking for something just as sophisticated that won't require quite so much financial investment, we'd recommend Fiorelli's Costa Shoulder Bag ($76) which also boasts a cute, braided-chain strap.
4. Salvatore Ferragamo Black and White Leather Handbag ($1250, 800.628.8916)
Ferragamo has always been a go-to for ladylike essentials¬--like buckle flats and bow-bedecked pumps¬--and this stunning chain-strap satchel is no exception to the well-mannered rule. We love the classic black-and-white color combo and the sleek, streamline design; it's a brilliant investment piece you'll truly have, and use, forever. Style it¬--or Topshop's Bow 2 Tone Bag ($55) for a more affordable version¬--with a white short-sleeve button-down, mid-calf bell skirt, and espadrilles to channel Marge Sherwood's (Gwyneth Paltrow) in The Talented Mr. Ripley look.
5. Kimchi Blue Buckle Bag ($58) in black
Our most wallet-friendly find of the day, this unfussy Kimchi Blue bag is a no-brainer when it comes to dabbling in this trend. The structured shape and gold closure is spot-on for this demure accessory, plus its patent-like sheen renders it surprisingly versatile! Use it to add polish to an off-duty ensemble like Cotton's, or pair it with a white lace dress for a flawless after-hours look.
6. Miu Miu Pinched Ruched Bag ($1695)
While most of today's picks are of darker hues, Miu Miu's pale pink iteration is a refreshing option that you can easily mix with your summer basics or work into your wardrobe come fall. Wear it now with a denim button-down and pleated skirt, or take a page from Miu Miu's sixties-inspired F/W 10 runway and use it to accent an orange-sherbet shift dress or a lime green puff-shoulder top. Or, to get a semblance of Miu Miu's swingin' panache without breaking the bank, try snatching up Paul's Boutique Phoebe Quilted Bag ($47) or High Fashion's 4803 Quilted Shoulder Bag ($130)¬--both equally adorable, ladylike picks.
7. Club Monaco Eleanor Shoulder Bag ($129) in Aviator Navy
Club Monaco initially sparked our interest in their F/W 10 collection when we noted that photographer/blogger extraordinaire Garance Dore shot the looks for their wonderfully curated campaign, which features trailblazers like Becka Diamond and Byrdie Bell. While we can hardly wait to get our hands on their ravishing silver lam√© dresses, camel coats, and tweeds galore, we're equally excited about Club Monaco's ladylike accessories, including this nearly noir chainstrap bag. The long ribbon and chain strap echoes both this season's offerings from Lanvin as well as the classic Chanel bag¬--always a A+ choice¬--while the dark navy hue is a chic deviation from your usual black.¬--Liza Kaplan