Style at any age: Trendsetter clutch bags for under $100

A chic and roomy clutch is an easy (and inexpensive) way to work a trend. All of these cost under $100.
A chic and roomy clutch is an easy (and inexpensive) way to work a trend. All of these cost under $100.

 

Keeping your personal style, being on trend, as you get older can sometimes be a challenge. It can also be a challenge no matter your age if you are not an heiress to a large fortune or a globe-trotting supermodel whose entire closet of designer duds is “gifted”. (Not bitter, I swear, I am not bitter!)

So the double challenge of being, ahem, under-employed and, let’s face it, a little bit of a trend whore, has forced me to become more strategic in my shopping. Every buck I spend must make a bang stylistically and, because I am well past my 20s, look more expensive than it was.

I have found that the easiest way to amp up your style is with accessories and lately my  style-amping accessory of choice has been the clutch. For me it’s the day clutch. I mean, it doesn’t take a genius to rock a beaded clutch or shiny minaudier for evening but to work a big scrunchy, one-of-a-kind looking bag under your arm like a fashion boss? That takes some skill.

So for your edification, I present …

If you love rocker style:

First the age thing. I still like my rock and roll/punk edge but lets be real, I’m too old to be tricked out in leather skinny jeans, fringed scarves and studs everywhere … unless I want to look like an old woman trying too hard (or Steven Tyler, which is really the same thing, ammirite?) But I am not too old to wear this uber soft black be-fringed beauty from Deux Lux with everything from a black sheath and heels to (tasteful) black skinnies, a soft sweater and an oversized wrap coat …

A so soft pouch with just enough fringe on the sides to make it trendy but not too ...Deux Lux faux leather fringed pouch, $75.
A so soft pouch with just enough fringe on the sides to make it trendy but not too …Deux Lux faux leather fringed pouch, $75.

I got mine at Nordstrom, Fashion Island but you can get yours here.

More rocker clutches …

Chic Nova studded clutch, $47.

If you love animal print:

Who doesn’t love leopard or cheetah print? Once relegated to a certain class of overdressed lady, animal prints (for me it’s specifically, leopard print) have crossed into the realm of iconic neutral. But if you’re of a certain age, too much of such a good thing can tip from kicky and fun to tacky and frumpy in less time than it takes to say “I’ll have a chardonnay”. Ladies like us have to be careful not to go overboard, but instead add animal as an accent. Also, just carrying a leopard print bag — or just wearing a very classic leopard pump, but not both — (for the love all things holy, NOT BOTH) is the great way for the style-timid to try something wild.

A minimal silhouette in good materials such as the clutch below (which I got at Chico’s the first and only time I ever shopped there) should do the trick …

In the past few years leopard print has moved from kicky print on the edge of tacky to iconic neutral. Chico's leather and and leopard print pouch, $99.
In the past few years leopard print has moved from kicky print on the edge of tacky to iconic neutral. Chico’s leather and and leopard print pouch, $99.

More animal print clutches …

Zara Printed leather clutch, $99.90 

If you’re a bohemian at heart:

The boho look has much to recommend it: fun, floaty, forgiving silhouettes, a casual chicness perfect for the SoCal climate; it’s a look that says you don’t try too hard, you’re just chill. But … also, the jeans short and floaty kimono with leather booties is tad young for a grown woman (as well as kind of played out here in O.C.).

And, say, you’re boho but you can no longer in all good conscience go out in shorts, opting for a maxi with chunky organic jewelry has it’s own pitfalls. For one, you risk looking like grandmother Tippy Toes (as my mom would say) in voluminous long skirt and flats because no one does boho in heels.   As we get older, or rather, wiser, shouldn’t we aim to also be more sophisticated and not so much Stevie Nicks?

 

One solution? Wear your fave, worn boyfriend jeans (no holes please, I hate that look. Holes in jeans are fine for struggling, just- getting-started-in-life 20-somethings but by 40 you can afford to buy new jeans before the knees go out) low-heeled booties, a soft-as-you-please v-neck tee, classic-cut blazer and a bag like this  …

Woven and beaded fringed Neli clutch, $56 at Luna B in Huntington Beach.
Woven and beaded fringed Neli clutch, $56 at Luna B in Huntington Beach.

Other Boho options …

H&M Faux fur clutch, $35.95

If your style is quirky gamine:

Being a gamine, pixie dream-girl is only for the young.

Sorry, ladies, but even Zoey Deschanel isn’t trying to pull that off anymore and the original “gamine”, Audrey Hepburn (pause to reflect on the meaning of Audrey’s style) aged out gracefully while maintaining that sparkling look. In fact, if you think about it, her most famous character, Holy Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) wore fairly classic items: LBD, belted trench, kitten heels … It was only her accessories that were quirky: Tiara, eyelashed sleeping mask,  cat eye sunglasses (for modern reference see Karen Walker’s line) and a top-knot bun. (Her home decor was quirkier: suitcases as end tables, a bathtub as a couch, zebra rug).

So if you still grave a bit of wit and whimsy, try a bag that makes a statement (it’s also a good replacement for the ironic graphic t-shirt which really should be reserved for youngsters) …

Bam Forever "Faster Better and Stronger" denim pouch, $25 at Miel in OC Mix, Costa Mesa.
Bam Forever “Faster Better and Stronger” denim pouch, $25 at Miel in OC Mix, Costa Mesa.

Other quirky girl options include these adorable clutches from Rebecca Minkoff and Betsey Johnson at Nordstrom …

Rebecca Minkoff floral "Leo" envelope clutch, $98 at Nordstrom
Rebecca Minkoff floral “Leo” envelope clutch, $98 at Nordstrom
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Bestsey Johnson cat clutch, $58 at Nordstrom

 

 

 

 

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