This post is brought to you by Zappos, and all of the examples we used were selected from the Zappos store.

Clutches have gained popularity because they combine a modern and retro appeal. And there is something very appealing about their relatively small size and strapless simplicity. Like all fabulous bags, clutches are the crowning jewel that can take an outfit to the next level. They are an ideal match for formal wear, but work just as well in smart casual ensembles. These days, you don’t need to reserve clutches for fancy occasions. 

Clutch handbags derive their name from the way you carry them. You “clutch” the top of the bag instead of using a strap or handle. For this reason, clutches are somewhat impractical because you lose the use of one hand. Reducing practicality even further, clutch handbags are usually small because it’s harder to clutch a bag that’s big and heavy. 

The good news is that clutch silhouettes needn’t be all that impractical. They won’t take the place of a large everyday shoulder bag, but if you choose wisely, you’ll find roomier styles, some even with an additional hands free option.

If you’re not a bag lady like me, you can purchase one clutch handbag to work with most, if not all, of your dressy outfits. If this is your plan then you will need to carefully prioritize your needs. Here are some examples to help you through this thought process.

Style: The Wristlet

Clutches with wrist straps are generally easier to carry than ones without. You’re also less likely to lose the bag if it’s looped onto your wrist!

Comfort: The Top Handle Clutch

This type of clutch has a built-in top handle that makes it easier to hold. This specific style has a cut-out handle, but top handles come in all sorts of attachments. This clutch is quite big so you’ll fit more into it than just your credit card, lipstick, keys and phone. 

Versatility: The Short Strap Clutch

A short detachable shoulder strap works miracles. Tuck the strap away for a clean cut “clutch look”, or use the strap by either holding onto it with your hand, or draping it over your shoulder for a hands-free solution. This particular clutch has two compartments, which makes for more room.

Compactness: The Small Package Clutch

Extra small clutches have their advantages. Their size allows you to carry them in the palm of your hand like a small package, which can be more comfortable than clutching a larger bag. You’ll only fit the bare essentials into something this small, so this style often ends up functioning more like a wallet.

Convenience: The Long Strap Clutch

This style is like the short strap clutch but has a longer detachable strap. The longer strap allows you to carry it over your shoulder, AND across your body like a cross body bag. The round bottom design of this particular clutch makes it roomier than flat clutches.

Capacity: The Convertible Clutch

The design on this style of clutch allows it to be folded out and carried like a small tote. This particular example has a casual canvas edge that successfully dresses down a formal outfit. Patent or metallic versions will dress up an outfit.

Once you’ve decided which clutch style works best for you, choose a versatile colour or pattern. For example, metallics are extremely versatile and contrast brilliantly against a black outfit. Black clutches work well against outfits that aren’t black. Animal print, and that includes snakeskin, is bold but works with a multitude of looks. If texture is your thing, opt for interesting tactile fabrications like feathers, beading, embroidery and embossing. I prefer clutches in dressier and shinier fabrications because I have the magpie gene, but clutches also come in casual fabrications like distressed leathers. But if you’re only after ONE clutch, opt for a dressy style so that you have that base covered.

Which style of clutch works for you? Do you wear clutch handbags with more casual outfits, or do you reserve them for dressy occasions?