Much more to the versatile clutch

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

The clutch is no longer designated only for fancy dress affairs.

It goes in hand with daytime events, too.

“The difference in today's clutch is that is has gotten bigger,” says Amber Herring, accessories editor for Self magazine and “Because it's not just for nighttime parties. I see lots of girls and women carrying clutches that look like an oversized version. They need to be bigger, because we need to carry more items in them — especially if we are using them in the day.”

The clutch is still characterized as a party accessory, but this versatile handbag has extended its reach. You will see it in more than the usual black, metallic and beaded versions. Clutches come in amazing animal skins, color blocking, neon hues and full-out sparkles.

“Clutches that are in the brightest hues and those that are two-toned clutches, as well as tribal-inspired clutches, are so much fun,” says Herring. “The choices are across the board, which means every female can find one that fits her lifestyle and taste.”

A clutch can change the look of an outfit, Herring says. The downside to this bag in the past was you always had to keep a hand free to physically carry it, but some have straps, which are usually removable.

“That way you can wear it as a cross-body bag or shoulder bag, too,” Herring says. “That makes it a little more versatile, because some women don't want to be holding on to it all the time.”

A woman can use a wardrobe of clutches to fit different aspects of her lifestyle. Most are affordably priced, Herring says, but you can also invest in an expensive clutch. If you take that route, it's best to choose a metallic in basic gold, silver or bronze, or a black bag, all of which will most likely transcend time, Herring says.

For those more daring fashionistas, try one in a not-so-traditional pattern such as python, rattan or floral.

Designers have seen the clutch trend seep into daylight and have created bags to fill that niche.

Kim Coppola, who, with husband Peter, owns Serendipity, a Downtown women's-accessory store, agrees that clutches are no longer only for the night.

“It can also lighten your load a little bit in the day by not having to carry a heavy purse,” she says, “especially in spring and summer, when we are tired of lugging a bag full of shoes, a sweater and so much extra stuff for the winter.”

Handbag designer Christina Roselle from Monroeville, who sells through local boutiques and, says the clutch is a must-have item.

“Clutches are perfect to have tucked inside a tote and then taken out to run into a store or out on a date,” she says. “Some people think clutches don't work because they don't want to have them under their shoulder or held all night in their hand, but many come with wrist or shoulder straps so you don't have to always carry them. It is a great statement piece.”

Clutches don't have to match shoes, and they add an instant update to an outfit, says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom fashion director. They are a perfect must-have spring purchase.

They are also great for traveling, because they don't take up a lot of room in a suitcase, Andrews says.

“Have fun with them,” Andrews says. “Clutches are ageless. The clutch is timeless because of its understated elegance.

Clutches tend to be clean-lined, so they are the perfect complement to any outfit, he says.

“I really like the color-block clutches, where the flap might be a different color than the rest of the bag,” Andrews says. “If that is too daring, you might want to choose one that has two contrasting fabrics, because that gives the clutch an interesting look.”

To create a fresh take on the clutch, Andrews says, carry an embellished one with a more-comfortable outfit of jeans, boots and a sweater. It is that juxtaposition of casual and dressy that is fun and new, he says.

A bold-colored bag can be paired with a basic black or gray suit. When worn this way, Andrews says, bright hues are considered neutrals.

“Treat the clutch like a piece of jewelry,” he says. “Clutches can be a way to express your personal style. And it is the unexpected use of something that gets noticed. People will notice a jeweled clutch and a casual outfit. The jeweled clutch bag can also add interest and live on long after the party is over.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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