Get carried away with these handbags

Could there be a more intimate relationship than the one between a woman and her handbag? Besides being a tell-tale sign of your personal style and taste, it's your number one organizational aid. For Spring 2006, there is an array of well-priced styles available for every personality. It's time to upgrade, so grab a bag! Find out which one is right for you in the latest edition of The Trend Report.

A little structure
Seriously structured "it" handbags have been on the arms of fashionable celebs for several seasons now, but they are still going strong for spring. Perhaps you've ponied up to the four-digit price tag for one of these beauties-but if you're like most of us, you're looking for re-interpretations at a fraction of the price. Well, you're in luck. This season, you will find gorgeous bags that reflect this trend-and at reality price points, like this $148 BCBGirls shopper. Look for lots of details to give your bag a luxe look-topstitching, gold-tone buckles and hardware and four little feet that allow it to rest on the floor without getting soiled.

Trend tip: Working women should snap up a well-priced structured bag without a second thought-a polished and professional look always pays off.

The boho tote
If you love embroidery and embellishment, there's a whole lot around, but we do caution you to set some limits because this trend will be here today and gone tomorrow. However, there's nothing better than the indulgence of a decorative spring-into-summer bag that truly expresses the magic of the season! Consider a printed or embroidered tote in with a red-hot floral motif to brighten up your wardrobe, like this fun look from Juicy Couture. It combines embroidered terrycloth with leather and silk ribbon ties, so it touches on all the hot trends!

Trend tip: A tote in a fabric such as cotton or terrycloth (as opposed to leather) will greatly reduce the price of your summer indulgence.

Satchel rage
One of the trendiest handbag shapes for spring is the satchel, which has softer edges and a pouchier shape than the more structured handbags. This softer shape allows designers to get a little more creative, so you'll find lots of draped, gathered and ruched leather styles that are almost as complex as a dress! Add the glitz of metallic leather (another hot trend, especially in feminine colors like pink, yellow and platinum) and you have the makings of one stunning but truly versatile wardrobe addition.

Trend tip: The satchel handbag is just making its way into the fashion universe, so chances are you'll feel comfortable carrying one for at least the next season or two.

In the clutch
The hand-held clutch is an indispensable item in any woman's wardrobe, especially for vacation or evening dressing. Good news - this spring and summer you can wear the same woven straw clutch for both occasions! The hottest look is the slim rectangular shape, which is often gussied up a bit with leather flaps and straps and gold-tone hardware and buckles. It goes from day to evening with ease. You'll find them at all prices (a higher price point generally signifies a better quality of raffia or wicker) and in every color under the sun from natural to bright pink, green and orange.

Trend tip: The oh-so-special evening clutch is another big trend. If you have the need for a special occasion handbag, you'll find jeweled and printed versions that are just right for the summer season.

Spring's hippest bags are growing to extravagant lengths (and widths)-the bigger the better! Many of the season's "it" handbags are so large, they almost dwarf their celebrity fashionista fans. The biggest trend (no pun intended) is the oversized leather shoulder bag with lots of straps, drawstrings and pockets-certainly enough to carry everything you own and more. They are most often found in the softest of leathers, which allows for the roominess you need to carry off this oversized, unstructured shape.

Trend tip: We'd advise you to steer clear of this trend unless you plan to pony up for quality leather. Too much of a not-so-good thing is really a fashion faux pas.

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