I spend a lot of time in three cities and across four seasons: urban Seattle most of the year, urban Salt Lake City for some of the year, and I see my Dad in Velp (near Arnhem) in the Netherlands three to four times a year. It strikes me that the most common styles of handbag and footwear across women of all ages is very similar.


  • Large Tote
  • Small DRESSY Crossbody
  • Backpack


  • Fashion & Athletic Sneakers
  • Flat Booties
  • Flat Sandals that range from Birkenstock and supportive sporty looks, to gladiators, slides, mules, ankle strap styles, and low wedges
  • Rothy’s ballet flats

Of course, this isn’t comprehensive — you see it all in the city if you look for long enough — but these are most common. I’m surprised to see far fewer pairs of flip-flops, sandal booties, tall boots and dressy pumps than I used to. I very rarely see high heels of any kind. Sometimes I see low and mid-height heels. When I do see high heels, it’s usually in the form of a wedge, block-heeled sandal or ankle boot. Generally, I see more women in Salt Lake City wear high heels than in the other two cities.

I’m not one bit surprised that sneakers and totes have taken over the world. Sneakers can be worn with ANYTHING these days and are the shoes of our fashion era. They are extremely trendy and fashionable, becoming acceptable across an assortment of dress codes, and commuting comfort is key. As for totes and backpacks, they are handy for carrying laptops and iPads, a lunch box, water bottle, and possibly a change of shoes. It makes perfect sense that they are extremely popular. Backpacks are good for your posture and back when you’re carrying a heavier load so that makes sense too. The small dressy crossbody is fab when commuting on bike and foot, and is all you need when carrying only the essentials. They are an easy and hands-free way to add a dressy element to a casual outfit, which makes sense too.

I’m usually one of the few people on the street wearing flat loafers, dainty ballet flats, and carrying a dressy satchel. I never carry a tote or backpack. Many of my dressy satchels convert to the crossbody style which is practical for commuting and travel. I also wear small dressy crossbody bags a lot more than I used to.

Now that I can find refined sneakers in narrow sizes that fit my feet, I can join Team Fashion Sneaker. I’m normally in sneakers at some point during the day because of my active walking lifestyle. Low tops in mild and hot weather, and hi-tops in cold weather. I don’t wear athletic sneakers at all, and don’t even have a pair! I walk to the yoga studio in gear and fashion sneakers. I’m also with the masses in wearing flat boots and comfort sandals.

What is the handbag and footwear style like on the streets of your neighbourhood, and how does it compare to mine?