Does Your Purse Make You Look Like An Old Lady?

chanel purseHere is a great fashion question from one of our readers:

Dear Deb, I’m told my current handbag looks “old lady” and I need a new one.  How do I know which ones are dated looking and which ones are considered more youthful…..Thanks! Leslie

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22 thoughts on “Does Your Purse Make You Look Like An Old Lady?

  1. Hey – slight umbrage was taken at the quilting comment… I’m in my mid-30s, love a chic bag, and keep up with fashion BUT I’m also a quilter… it’s not all patchwork bags and old ladies :)

  2. I am fifty-seven years old. I am an older lady, but I want to know if my taste in bags is of an old lady. I just purchased a Dooney and Bourke Cooper Hobo bag in Carmel. My friend tells me that it’s an old lady’s style. This is the first bag that rests and stays on my shoulder, and that is a massive plus for me in a bag. Please tell me what you think.
    Thank You,

  3. Hi Deb,
    I am in my early 40s and found a cute Kate Spade quilted crossbody on sale. I am not sure if quilted purses are for older women. Please advise. Thanks!

  4. I wonder if my purse is outdated or “not for my age group.” I liked the spring colors, but I’ve been told it’s for “old ladies.”
    The purse brand is Mondani. The style is “Layla” in pink floral (lt looks lavender,, though).
    I am nearly 41 years old and generally mistaken for 30 to 35 years old.

    1. Hi Nicole, I looked up your bag. Is this it?
      The style is modern – a tote with a chain strap, but I can see why someone may have said old lady about the print. I don’t think the large, colorful snap is an old lady, but it could look old, depending on what you wore it with. When you have an oversized floral pattern like this, stay away from busy prints, patterns, and lots of detail in your clothes. This floral tote would look great with a bright solid color dress or top so that the purse pops and is a statement piece. When you wear this busy bag with busy clothes, it gets lost and looks frumpy. So enjoy your bag and try wearing it, so the focus is all there. Cheers, Deborah

  5. This topic is overdue for an update. It is almost as confusing a subject as how to wear leggings, jeggings, etc. I feel strongly that one does NOT need to purchase a designer bag to be in style. Carrying around a coach bag these days is more likely to indicate that you just got off a tour bus to an outlet mall – and that is not a good thing. I think 2012 is the year of the “tote,”, especially in bright colors.
    I just purchased two at winners – one in black patent and the other in red leather. I also know that the envelope clutch is oversized this year as well. Does anyone have any tips this year for stylish purses suitable for us?

  6. Nice post! I agree with some of the points mentioned here. However, if you stick to a classic leather bag in a classic color (think creams, browns, and black), then you really cannot go wrong! Plus, it will always look the part. A colored handbag is excellent, but if you’re looking for an investment piece, always stick to simplicity. Thanks for the post!

  7. I have several bags, including a juicy suitcase and a black bean bag. Since I’m only 24, I can get away with them. Although I have a few bags that look boring, it’s not even funny, especially the black handbag I got from holes. I have 1 of the bags I like, and it’s brown and has two straps, a long detachable strap, andtwo2 handles to carry by hand. It’s brown, but I like it. Other than that, I have several in different colors, including several coach handbags and a fossil bag which is the cross body and is my favorite, and an Aldo bag which I just got, which looks like one of those bike riders’ bags. It’s roomy and just suitable for my very petite body.

  8. I love purses, but they have to be functional and functional and can be fashionable! I find the Kathy Van Zeeland Shopper Bags to be spot on when it comes to fashion and functionality. I loved them so much I had to buy two! And purses don’t have to be expensive; places like discount stores sell that at a great price! I bought purple and beige with gold and a little bling that Kathy Van Zeeland bags offer. I like the side scoop pockets on either side for quick access to that so important cell phone call! Purses come in all sizes and varieties…I highly agree that purses are a great way to update my look at my age. I love the “shiny” supple material too! Thanks so much for this article!

  9. Oh, baby! Have fun with your bags. I buy Coach, D& B, Kate Spade, etc. These bags are worth the investment considering their wear and tear. These companies offer good bag maintenance services for low cost plus postage. When I retired, several of my work bags went to my co-workers–they asked for them! How cool is that???

    Rabbi Wendy: I carry a large Coach wristlet filled as follows: credit card envelope that will hold my driver’s license, two-three insurance cards, debit, and credit card; $$ bills, slimline pen, Mary Kay or other slimline lip gloss or lipstick and my set of keys. Spare change? I donate it along the way each day, so it doesn’t become an encumbrance and generally goes to a good cause–it all adds up! Take a peek and think small yet functional. [I traveled 100% of my work time and quickly tucked the wristlet into a briefcase/computer bag (rolling type, of course) or my handbag as a Million Miler Road Warrior.] ☺

    1. Hi Rockin Robin,
      You sound like a go-getter and like you are organized! One thing you mentioned I agree with is that women in the workplace should try to carry just one bag – a briefcase. It can look sloppy and awkward to have a purse and briefcase. Coakley has a beautiful bag that functions as a briefcase and purse in one. (

  10. My chiropractor told me years ago that my heavy handbag aggravated my old injury from a traffic accident. I’ve had to downsize my belongings and switch to a tiny bag just big enough to hold my keys, cell phone, credit card, ID, and cash. No wallet, no PDA, no sunglasses (sigh). I’d love to hear your thoughts and see some of your recommendations for tiny bags. They do have the advantage of making me feel less burdened.

  11. I agree with everyone. I love handbags, but sometimes I see older women carrying handbags meant for the young….mainly the brand bags like Bebe and juicy… Friendly bags, but I consider them “too young” for me @ 51

  12. I love this title! A friend and I were thinking of starting a new group called “The Old Bags.”

    Would you like a little psychological insight into the meaning of a woman’s purse? If you dream about your purse, it represents your IDENTITY!

    Keep up the excellent work, GLAM Deb!

  13. I love my suede dooney and bourke black hobo. It has just the right of hardware, white contrast stiching and leather strap. I spent just under $300 for it and find it’s a good investment.

    At my age (46) I think a woman is entitled to a designer investment bag. My advice to avoid OL bags is to read the fashion magazines and look at what the young women are wearing. Accessories don’t have an age. You will never go wrong wearing the latest bag, shoes, and belts for the most part.

    1. Hi Elle,
      Yes, you are right on!! I have invested in good purses over the years and have gotten lots of wear out of them. One thing I did not mention was “knock-offs.” I’m against them. You can usually spot a knock-off a mile away.

  14. Speaking as a 47 year old style conscience fan I have to chime in on this one as it hits close to home. Several friends and I had this very conversation over lunch. The best tips for avoiding old-lady handbag syndrome:
    #1 Buy a quality handbag. This doesn’t have to mean expensive. Just look for the best quality bag you can find within your budget. A good quality handbag can last several years.
    #2 Choose handbags in colors other than black, brown, beige. Try colors like deep teal, purple, rust or dark red. I actually carried a dark lavender purple last summer and was amazed at how it complimented my outfits.
    #3 Now there’s nothing wrong with black, brown, beige or any other neutral tone but if you choose one of these make sure it has a distinguishing feature such as contract stitching, interesting outside pockets or braided handles/strap.

    Happy Shopping!

    1. Just an insight into how one lady of mature years uses her classic handbag to good effect. Her purse is always close by whenever Queen Elizabeth is at a function. Her attendants know that she’s signaling her exit when she reaches for it.

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