Tote bags are great. Whether you’re wearing a tongue-in-cheek “boot and bag” or one that’s free with DTC purchase, these rectangular pieces of fabric let you carry everything you need and everything you don’t at the same time. However, when it comes to putting together your night out outfit, they fall flat. That’s the problem facing the Cut’s own blogger, Danielle Cohen. “I have to stop bringing dirty tote bags everywhere,” Cohen told the Styles team earlier this week, prompting more than 15 enthusiastic messages full of recommendations to help her replace the beloved but unsightly bags.
First and foremost, we focus the most on the criteria. While micro bags have become synonymous with the “party girl chic” aesthetic, Cohen said they can’t just be “phone and wallet sized.” Instead, a night purse must be “large enough to fit my cell phone, wallet, keys, mints, etc.” With that in mind, we’ve rounded up our picks of the best going out purses to “bring back the mid-budget party purse, okay if someone spills a drink on it!” as fashion journalist Danya Issawi rightly put it.
Some are tried and true by the team, others are desirable on their own. Options honey!
Coach is enjoying a renaissance now, but IYKYK’s vintage wallets fit the bill. “Coach makes really good” night out bags, Issawi shared. “I have a tiny one that I’ve used sparingly and it really should only fit in my wallet, but if I’m strategic I can carry my wallet, my phone, my disposable camera, and Matches. Also, their online outlet store has good deals too!”
I swear by the vintage Coach bag I bought from Goodwill, but vintage Miu Miu bags have my heart too. The Real Real has cute options and the prices are great too.
Senior author Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz has one big rule when it comes to night out bags: no leather. Singh-Kurtz’s first choice is the Prada Re-Nylon Re-Edition 2000. “The original night out bag! It’s durable, packable, and wipeable for those inevitable drinks spilled on it. You can attach anything you need and Snacks.”
Singh-Kurtz’s other recommendation? A vintage Lucite bag. “It’s durable because it’s literally made of plexiglass, it’s tiny, and most are under $100. Get them on Etsy, eBay or Poshmark.”
Assistant Style Editor Joanna Nikas likes this one from By Far. Although it’s so compact, you can fit a surprising amount of stuff in it, she confirms.
Veteran fashion writer Emilia Petrarca endorses every Kara bag. Most fall on the smaller side, but overall, Petrarch says they’re good party bags, and wisely points out they’ll most likely be discounted during the upcoming SSENSE Black Friday sale.
If you want a bag that will earn you compliments every time you carry it, consider the Mini Luar bag. Deputy culture editor Brooke Marine says, “It’s very stiff, but you can attach a phone; a small, narrow purse; Key; a small portable charger; and maybe some chewing gum too.”
Another strong crossbody bag contender recommended by Nikas. If you’re not a fan of the zebra print, it comes in three other patterns.
If you want a nylon bag without the Prada price tag, I can vouch for this one from Kate Spade. I have it in green and can confirm that even the lighter colorway looks great even after multiple drinks have been spilled on it.
I walked by the Santos by Monica pop-up shop on the Lower East Side and saw firsthand how this mini tote can hold essentials. Plus, it’s made out of cactus “leather”!
Bucket bags deserve love too.
Do not let m-shaped zippers suggest that this mini bag doesn’t fit much. On the contrary, it allows you to pass a lot if you’re strategic like Issawi.
When was the last time you checked Banana Republic’s accessories department? This cloud clutch is ideal for your holiday party outfits.
A Proenza bag that’s 50 percent cheaper? That’s party-worthy in our books.
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