Selecting a Clutch Style to Complement Your Look

The clutch is an enduring classic, with infinite style options to choose from. Need help finding that perfect clutch for a particular look? Look no further than these simple styling suggestions.

Even though clutch-style handbags have been around as long as fashion itself, there has never been a time where there were more options than there are today. If you are in the market for a clutch handbag, a trip to the department store can quickly leave you overwhelmed, causing you to purchase something that may not be right for your look, or even come back totally empty-handed.

The following simple styling suggestions can easily prevent you from feeling as if you are drowning in a sea of clutch styles. Listed here are some of our top picks whose classic styling will take you through evenings out for years to come.

#1 The Simple, Rectangular Clutch


Whether it’s a thin, sleek, frame-style clutch with a clasp closure or a boxier flap-style bag, a simple clutch with clean lines is such a classic bag it is one you will keep for the rest of your life. This style of clutch will work for all but the most formal of events, and can easily fit into a larger handbag or tote when you need to be able to go from day to night without stopping-off at home to change your ensemble.

Choose a sleek leather design in a neutral colour like black or bone to complement weekend evenings out, or go with a classic texture like python or leopard print for a more dramatic effect. If you are the type who prefers a bit more bling, you will be able to find varieties embellished with everything from feathers to spikes and beyond. Whatever you choose, make it something you love; this is a bag that you will be able to use again and again.

#2 The Oversized Envelope Clutch


Larger, soft envelope-style clutches have enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity, and are a great option if you want to impart a more unstructured appeal to your look. For this reason, this style is best left to daytime and more casual nights out; jeans and a blazer at the pub as opposed to a cocktail dress on a romantic dinner date.

The most appealing varieties of the oversized envelope clutch are made of soft, pliable high-end leather, and can be folded-over on themselves to impart a casual, louche vibe that lends itself well to the looser silhouettes of casual summer nights. Because of the relative size of these clutches, it is best to stick with simple designs in very high-end materials. If you want to make a statement with an envelope clutch, it’s best to do so with a statement colour, like red, yellow, or your favourite metallic shade.

#3 The Chain Strap Bag


Although technically not a clutch bag, the chain strap bag deserves a mention for one reason: Many rectangular and box-style clutches out there actually have a chain strap that is designed to be either removed or tucked-away inside the bag when not in use.

A classic clutch with a chain strap is a great option for a cocktail party or night on the town, when you may want your hands free. With the resurgence of the popularity of cross-body bags, a clutch bag with a long chain strap is also a great way to make an evening look a little more unexpected and edgy. Just be sure to keep the size of the bag relatively small and the strap long and delicate (think the Chanel mini or extra-mini classic flap); anything larger and it may clash with your chosen evening look.

#4 The Miniaudiere


Decidedly the most formal of all the clutch bags, the miniaudiere (also known as a box clutch to some) is the clutch that you see most often on the red carpet.  This style clutch most resembles a small box or vintage cosmetic case. It comes in many shapes and sizes; everything from rectangular or oval shapes to literal interpretations of symbols, animals, or even fruit.

One of the most popular and successful creators of miniauriere clutch bags is Judith Leiber, who creates everything from simple crystal-encrusted miniaudiere clutches in luscious colours (called the “Jelly Bean”), to blinged-out renditions of poodles, seashells, and even an asparagus hollandaise!

The miniaudiere is really the one and only choice to make if you are going to a black or white tie event, although you could easily carry one in a less formal environment, creating an interesting high-low mix and using it as a focal point and conversation piece for the evening.

These days, there is so much choice in fashion it is hard to say that there are really any hard and fast rules. However, using these simple styling tips as a guide, the endless sea of possibilities when shopping for a clutch bag does seem a little easier to navigate. But a word of caution; clutch bags are addictive. It is very likely that once you finally do find your perfect clutch, you will not just be able to stop at one.

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About the author

Kristin Buchholz-MacKillop

Kristin is an American writer based in the Scottish Highlands. She is a saxophonist, an obsessive tennis player, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, and holds a Master's degree as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. She is the author of the online style blog

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