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The right bag for the right body

BY LINDA MILLER Published: February 21, 2010

When it comes to handbags, most women know what they want. Some reach for a bag that’s purely functional. Others prefer one that screams fashion. Many women mix the two.

Perhaps the most important element when shopping for a bag is one that gets overlooked the most: a bag that flatters a woman’s body type.

Like clothes, some handbags are more figure-flattering than others. The right size and shape can actually make a woman look taller if she’s short, and thinner if she’s heavy. Who among us doesn’t want that?

The wrong bag can visually draw attention to what you don’t want accentuated. A short-handled shoulder bag can bring attention to an already large bust.

Generally, the shape of a bag should contrast your body type. If you’re tall and thin, opt for a bag that’s slouchy or more rounded.

Size matters, too — both yours and the bag. The size of the bag should be in proportion to your size. A woman who is 6 feet tall and a size 14 should pass on a tiny bag and reach for one with more substance.

"Similar to a pair of shoes, a handbag can really bring together an outfit and flatter your overall physique,” said Kathy Cronin, vice president and merchandise manager at dressbarn.

"You wouldn’t wear a dress that was too big for your frame, so why grab an oversized slouchy bag if you’re petite? And similar to knowing the best clothing styles to flatter your figure, it helps to be mindful of the best bag shapes for your body type to really bring your look together.”

Lee Ann Looman, owner of The Webb in Norman, said the comment she hears most often is, "I’m not tall enough to carry a big bag.”

While proportion is important, she doesn’t think it’s a rule that can’t be bent. "A big bag on a short girl can be darling,” she said.