Tote bags are great. Whether you sport an ironic “boat and tote” or one that comes free with your DTC purchase, these rectangular pieces of fabric allow you to simultaneously carry everything you need and everything you don’t. However, when it comes to putting together your going out outfit, they fall flat. That’s the issue the Cut’s very own blogger Danielle Cohen faces. “I must stop bringing dirty totes everywhere,” Cohen Slacked the Styles team early this week, which prompted more than 15 enthusiastic messages filled with recommendations to help her replace the beloved but unsightly bags.
First and foremost, we most focus on the criteria. While micro bags have become synonymous with the “party-girl chic” aesthetic, Cohen said it can’t just be “phone and wallet” size. Instead, a going-out purse needs to be “big enough to fit my phone, wallet, keys, mints, etc.” Taking that into consideration, we’ve rounded up our selections for the best going-out purses in order to “bring back the mid-budget, okay-if-someone-spills-a-drink-on-it party purse!” as fashion writer Danya Issawi rightfully stated.
Some are tried and true from the team, and others are covetable in their own right. Options, baby!
Go the vintage route.
Coach is having a renaissance now, but IYKYK their vintage purses is where it’s at. “Coach makes really good” going-out bags, Issawi shared. “I have a tiny one I thrifted, and it really should only fit my wallet, but if I’m strategic, I can fit my wallet, phone, disposable camera, and matches. Plus their online outlet store has good deals, too!”
I swear by the vintage Coach bag I thrifted at Goodwill, but vintage Miu Miu bags also have my heart. The Real Real has cute options, and the prices are great, too.
Senior writer Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz has a big rule when it comes to going-out bags: no leather. Singh-Kurtz’s go-to option is the Prada Re-Nylon Re-Edition 2000. “The original going-out bag! It’s durable, packable, and wipeable for the inevitable drinks that will be spilled on it. You can fit everything you need and snacks.”
Singh-Kurtz’s other recommendation? A vintage Lucite bag. “It’s durable because it’s literally made of plexiglass, tiny, and most are under $100. Get them on Etsy, eBay, or Poshmark.”
Don’t be deceived by their looks.
Senior fashion writer Emilia Petrarca recommends any bag from Kara. Most run on the smaller side, but overall, Petrarca says that they are good party bags and cleverly noted that they will most likely be discounted during the upcoming SSENSE Black Friday sale.
If you want a bag that will get you compliments every time you sport it, consider the mini Luar bag. Deputy culture editor Brooke Marine says, “It’s very stiff, but you can fit phone; a small, slim wallet; keys; a small portable charger; and maybe some gum too.”
Other small but mighty options.
Another strong shoulder-bag contender Nikas recommended. If you’re not a fan of the zebra print, it’s available 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 attest that even the lighter colorway looks great even after spilling multiple drinks on it.
I’ve passed by the Santos by Monica pop-up shop in the Lower East Side and have seen with my own eyes how this mini bag can fit the essentials. Plus it’s made from cactus “leather”!
Bucket bags deserve love, too.
Don’t let the m-shaped zippers make you think you won’t be able to fit much in this mini bag. On the contrary, it allows you to fit a lot if, like Issawi, you’re strategic about it.
When was the last time you checked Banana Republic’s accessories section? This cloud clutch is ideal for your holiday-party outfits.
A Proenza bag that’s 50 percent off? That’s party worthy in our books.