Handbags Long on Style for Short Women

How to Choose the Right Purse

Short women should stay away from very large handbags because their size is out of proportion for petites.
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All About Proportion

Handbags are a statement fashion accessory. Short women have special issues to consider when buying a handbag beyond the usual considerations of color, current trends and price. If you are petite, you should think about three other factors when you choose this fun and necessary accessory.

First, consider the shape of the handbag. Fashion theory holds that a woman should carry a handbag in a shape that's opposite to her body type. For example, a curvy woman would be most flattered by an angular purse, while a woman with a rectangle-shaped figure would look best with a slouchy, rounded shape. A longer, more vertical bag is a good choice for short women since it adds what you lack: height.

Second, consider the size of the handbag. Looking like you are carrying a suitcase is not a good idea. Huge purses look out of proportion to a petite woman's size and make you look even smaller, so it's best to avoid them in favor of medium- to small-size bags. A petite woman who wears a size 0 will look as though she's struggling if she carries a gigantic tote. On the other hand, a petite plus-size woman might look even bigger if she carries a tiny clutch for daytime. Keeping the proportion in balance with size means that most petite women should be carrying a medium-size bag for everyday wear. Of course, evening bags are traditionally smaller than other handbags, but even in this case, scale the evening bag so that it doesn't seem out of proportion.

Third, consider where and how the handbag will be carried. This factor is important because a handbag adds bulk to the area of the body nearest the handbag. Short women who have inverted triangle-shaped figures should avoid shoulder bags with short straps because the handbag will add unneeded bulk at the bustline. Short women who have triangle-shaped figures should avoid a bag with a shoulder strap so long that the bag falls at the hips. Petites who have rectangle-shaped figures should avoid carrying cross-body bags that fall at the waistline. Just keep in mind that if you don't want to call attention to a certain area of the figure, don't carry your handbag next to the area you want to minimize.

Types of Handbags

Once you've nailed the size and shape that's best suited to you, check out which style appeals to you and fits your must-haves every day.

Clutch: Small, hand-held bag that is most often the style for evening or date-night. Holds the bare minimum.

Crossbody: Long-handled, small- to medium-size bag that can be worn long on one shoulder or across the body for hands-free convenience.

Hobo: Slouchy, sometimes rounded, medium-or large-size shoulder bag with shortish handles that fits under the arm.

Satchel: Large, short-handled and structured bag that gives a more tailored, formal look.

Tote: Large, angular bag, often triangle-shaped, with short handles that can be worn on the shoulder or carried on the arm.

Shoulder bag: A general term that covers hobos, crossbodies, drawstrings and saddle bags. All that is required is that the bag is carried on the shoulder.