Prêt-à-Party: Versatile Evening Bags

Comfortable and practical evening bags. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

A couple of weeks ago we were getting ready to go out for a nice dinner, and I realized that almost all of my smaller evening bags are more summery. Between holiday parties and some events on our calendar early next year, my bag stable could use a new Show Pony or two. There’s my trusty cheetah pouch, but I’d really like something with a strap or handle.

My ideal evening bag is fun and festive, can dress up or down, and isn’t terribly spendy. (Though I do want something that doesn’t look cheap and that will hold up.) Nothing too weird or wacky. A shoulder strap or handle at least long enough be held in the crook of the arm is a must. Nothing too heavy. Must be able to hold at minimum my phone, keys, lipstick, a small card case, and travel-sized hand lotion. (But yikes…what’s with all of the “nano” bags?? Doll-sized purses that could barely hold a lipstick and credit card, never mind keys or a cell phone.)

Evening Bags That Won’t Cramp Your Style

Loeffler Randall beaded flap bag. Details and more evening bags at une femme d'un certain age.

I’ve had my eye on this bag for a while, and it’s now on sale! It’s smallish in size, but big on presence. The beading is rose gold, the strap is silver. Easily holds what I’d carry for an evening out. The strap tucks inside so you can also carry as a clutch if you prefer.

Rixo leopard print velvet small tote bag. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I took a chance and ordered this one, and it’s a keeper! It’s actually a fabric bag (the description says leather but it’s velvet on the outside) so is quite lightweight and it’s surprisingly roomy. That cheetah print adds a nice pop. Handles are even long enough to go over the shoulder. This isn’t a bag I’d carry for every day but would wear out with both casual and dressier outfits.

Nanushka croc-embossed flap bag. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

If your style leans toward the more understated or minimal, here’s a small and elegant flap bag that can be worn over the shoulder or crossbody. It’s currently 50% off in this cognac color.

Clare V Sissy frame bag in snakeprint. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Although this one isn’t on sale, it’s such a great looking bag and has a cheeky retro vibe. It’s on the roomier side too.

Here’s a fun and irreverent take on a ladylike tweed bag.

Sandro yza bag in gold. Details and more evening bags at une femme d'un certain age.

Sometimes you just have to go for the gold. ✨ The chain shoulder straps have leather inserts at the top for comfort. I’ve found Sandro bags to be a good value for the price; I think the bags are well-designed and well-made.

More Ready-to-Party Bags…

Do you have a favorite evening bag?

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  1. Good morning, Susan. Very nice to read the post when waking too early….Two metallic bags, bronze, one tiny, one c. 6” x 8” , go with everything.

  2. ordered the leopard velvet bag — would not have without your recommendation and it was on sale with another 30% off. I hope my daughter loves it! If not, I’ll keep it!!

    Thanks for all your great finds!

  3. I love them all!! I have quite the collection of evening bags – many inherited, picked up at estate sales, vintage…they really do make an outfit sing!

  4. These are wonderful choices, especially that tweed bag! I love it and so did the 88 other people looking at it online a few minutes ago. This is a bit late, but I have to tell you how adorable (and helpful) your scarf video is! Your personality and voice are exactly what I imagined. I’m thrilled you don’t uptalk or vocal!

  5. It can be tricky – I need something that looks elegant but is large enough to hold my reading glasses in their case (along with money, lipstick , keys, etc.) I like the gold Sandro bag, will think about it.

  6. I got a red leather evening pouch from Cuyana I believe on your say-so–love love it and it has behaved nicely. A bit too small for my full wallet but really do I need every credit card when I am out for the evening?! I have a lovely Jimmy Choo clutch in a sueded gold/beige that also does the job, and a vintage Valentino floral clutch for summer. The last two stay in the safe when not in use. Just in case.

  7. I am happy to read from some of the commenters that they have vintage evening bags. I use them so seldom that they are rarely purged from my closet. Any tips on when and if they are outdated?

  8. On the last several cruises we’ve taken, I kept having a problem with my room keycard not working. It would work fine all day, but not in the evening. I kept it away from my cell phone, but it kept happening. Another passenger clued me in that it was likely the magnetic closer on my evening bag. I’ve been on the hunt ever since to find one without a magnet. I finally got lucky with the help of a sales lady at Macy’s. I explained my dilemma and she dug around in a big pile of bags on a sale table and found a large silver clutch with a zipper closer. With coupons, sales and other discounts, I ended up paying $10 for a $50 bag!

  9. I like the beaded one best. A little bling, but not in a gold way. More party-spirited than the leather versions. I love that it can have a strap or be a clutch. It could serve for decades without getting old, especially if you just bring it out for special occasions at the end of the year.
    I have a fun Christmas bag printed with the Rockefeller Center tree, and the decorations are colored rhinestones. It makes me smile. It comes out only for a month a year, but that is OK. It has been for many years now. A gift from my BFF.
    I also have one of those micro bags. I bought it years ago for a fancy reception at the royal palace in Belgium–just big enough for my then-tiny Nokia phone, a credit card, a lipstick, my car key and my house key. Maybe 4×5 inches? Not sure my current phone would fit inside. With a small handle. It doesn’t get much use, but It’s just so cute.