How To Know If Your Purse Makes You Look Like An Old Lady

Seriously? A handbag can make you look older!? Yes, it can! Even if you’re 20 and have an “old lady” bag, you can look older! But how do you know if your purse is dated and aging you? The biggest mistake is putting function before fashion.

I always try to find pieces that are the perfect mix of fashion and function. And there are plenty of handbags out there that are super stylish AND function exactly how you want them to. So what makes a bag look “old lady” and what should you avoid? I’m sharing everything you need to know below…

If you’re interested in how I find discounted designer handbags, check out this post. I’ve also shared the handbags every woman should own and how to find the perfect bag for your lifestyle.

Tory Burch Lee Radziwell handag in black croc embossed leather with brown on fashion blogger over 40 Erin Busbee of busbee Style, bags you should own

#1 | Dowdy Handbag Shapes

The first tell is the shape and structure of a handbag. For example, the purse above has structure and is a classic shape and it creates a really polished look. But some bag shapes can be frumpy. Look for more structured bags in classic silhouettes. If classic isn’t your style, look for a shape that’s more modern. If you don’t like structured bags, there are some purposefully slouchy bags that can be super stylish. But you have to be careful.

Handbags, Chloe handbag on Fashion Blogger over 40 Erin Busbee of Telluride Colorado

#2 | Dull Colors

Next, avoid handbags in dull colors. Some classic colors are black, brown, beige, and taupe. But each of those colors has so many shades…so what do you look for!? When you’re shopping for a bag, don’t just look for a brown bag…decide on a richer brown color like cognac. Beige is a hard color because depending on the style of bag, it can still look dull. Always go for rich, beautiful colors.

Hot Handbags, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of wearing the brown Senreve Maestra Bag with Levi jeans, white cami, and Frame peplum hem green jacket in Telluride, Colorado

#3 | Bad Zippers & Closures

Probably one of the biggest things I see on frumpy handbags are bad zippers and too many pockets! I understand wanting a pocket for all of your things. But if your bag is inexpensive AND you have shiny zippers all over the outside of a bag, it will most likely look cheap. You also shouldn’t have six different pockets on the outside of your bag.

When looking for your perfect bag… consider limiting hardware. Simple hardware… A simple zip, flap, or magnetic closure is best. Avoid bags with too many zippers, pockets, drawstrings, or oversized clasps, etc.

Designer Handbags For Fall, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of carrying the Chanel boy bag wearing jeans and a sweater in Telluride, CO

#4 | Fabric & Texture

Here’s my biggest rule…if it’s machine washable, get rid of it. I totally get the excitement of being able to clean a purse by throwing it in the wash. Believe me…I LOVE convenience. But if the whole bag is machine washable, the material probably isn’t stylish or chic looking. If that’s a high priority for you, look for a bag that has a removable insert so you can easily clean the inside. And look for a bag with a material that’s easy to wipe on the outside. I’d stick with leather and faux leather. A texture that can be really beautiful that I personally love, is quilting. It needs to be done correctly and can sometimes look low quality so make sure you’re careful. Another note: Avoid patchwork, embellishments, embroidery, loud prints, bright colors, or anything that looks like it could be homemade.

Hot Handbags, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of wearing the brown STAUD Madeline Croc-Embossed Crossbody Bag with Levi jeans, white cami, and Frame peplum hem green jacket in Telluride, Colorado

#5 | How You Style Your Handbag

I can talk all day about how to find the perfect handbag. But your whole outfit is what will really show your age. Style yourself in a way that makes you feel and look youthful and stylish! I’ve done three videos on how to avoid looking frumpy if you’re interested in watching, those are below…

5 Frumpy Fashion Mistakes Making You Look Older (Do Not Wear These!)
5 Surprising Style Mistakes That Are Making You Look Frumpy And Older (Style Tips Over 45)
3 Frumpy Shoes Ruining Your Outfit & Making You Look Older (Stylish And Comfortable Alternatives!)

Classic Handbags

In case you’ve missed it, I’m designing a handbag! I’m SO excited about this project and it’s been really fun to bring you all along for the design process. You can find more information about the bag and the design process here and here.

What questions do you have about handbags? Please let me know in the comments!

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Thank you for stopping by!

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Photos by: Aurelie Slegers

How To Manifest Anything, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of Busbee Style wearing an orange and blue Staud Ina dress with white sunglasses walking around in Telluride, Colorado
Erin Busbee
After a decade in TV news, a desire to help women "look pretty" sparked a career pivot. I started my own wardrobe consulting business, styling "real" women for many years. In 2014, I changed direction again, using my TV background and styling expertise to launch this website and my YouTube channel. We are now a community of nearly 700,000 dynamic, vibrant, amazing women over 40... who know that age isn't something you need to hide from. For us, life is just getting started!!
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