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updated 9/22/2010 4:18:16 PM ET 2010-09-22T20:18:16

It’s the first day of fall and time to cozy up to a new companion. While they say man’s best friend is his dog, a lady’s has to be her handbag. And if you’re in search of a new sidekick, look no further. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it — and I have personally searched and surfed through hundreds to find the best new bag buys. TODAY style editor and Bobbie.com’s Bobbie Thomas shares her top picks:

Retro revival
Everything old is new again, as evidenced by the plethora of autumn ad campaigns depicting prim and proper looks from a past era. From ladylike carryalls to frame bags, the clean-cut styles of the 1960s are enjoying a delightful resurgence. While Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men” play dress-up on set, modern-day celebs like Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Moore and Madonna are just a few who are toting a Loewe’s Amazona top-handle bag (unless it’s resting ever so delicately on their perfectly posed upturned wrists). These classic shapes are timeless, and easily take on modern updates. Edgy hardware, buckles, zippers, studs, tassels, straps and unique color combinations are just some of the current twists that breathe new life into vintage styles. The structure instantly provides polish to any look and can effortlessly turn a casual outfit into something more refined.

Uptown Pearl and Glamazons, $450 and up, Leahandbliss.com
Patent Leather Yo-Yo, $1,750, Prada.com
Amazona multi-color in suede, $1,800-$2,000 Loewe.com
Tassel Frame Bag, $109.53, Asos.com
Jessica Simpson La Couture Frame Satchel, $88, Endless.com
Gray/Black Soft Top Handle, $49, Zara.com
Cooperative Spectator Bag, Ecote Tooled Lady Bag, $48-$88, Urbanoutfitters.com
Vintage Follie Hard Case, $39.50, Ebags.com

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Animal instincts
Luxury designers have embraced the wild side for Fall 2010. From Fendi and Prada to Mulberry and more, this season you will see more spots than usual. Animal prints provide us with some of nature's most beautiful designs, and faux furs, skins and lots of leopard are everywhere to be found. Perfect for all ages, these bold bags can be sophisticated or fashion forward when you use them to add a touch of attitude to a classic ensemble. The gradation of color in the patterns offers a lot of versatility. You can wear the look with almost anything in your wardrobe, from black to brown, beige to gray, and seamlessly from day to night. And because of its adaptability, an animal-inspired purse is one of the few that can be considered both a trend and a classic, making it a solid investment.

Leopard Pony Hair Miss Sicily Bag, $2,625, Dolcegabbana.it
Leopard Big Mama Bag, $2,480, Fendi.com
Faux Fur Lock Clutch, Leopard Vanity Case, $80-$90, Topshop.com
Nicole Miller Maven Satchel, Mondani Agnes Snake Skin Satchel, $49--$80, Jcp.com
Hype Frankie Shoulder Bag, $68, LordandTaylor.com
Rampage Emma Clutch, $68, 1-800-497-1631
Peekaboo Crossbody, $59, Ninewest.com
Ecote Faux Fur Hobo, $58, Urbanoutfitters.com
Faux Fur Overnight Satchel, $100, Sondraroberts.com
B.Bags By Barganza Zebra Crossbody, $38, 212-868-4596
Mulberry For Target Mini Cross Body, $29.99, Target.com on October 10th

Shape shifters 
Whether you are a mom-on-the-go or just someone familiar with the daily juggle to balance all your “bags,” today’s modern woman can finally find hands-free help in the form of messengers, cross-body and even convertible options. The ’80s drawstring shape is back in focus for trendsetting labels like Balenciaga, Ferragamo and more. Daytime totes that turn into clutches and bags that quickly switch into backpacks with cleverly placed straps are very much en vogue. These utilitarian bags are a natural evolution of sorts for the smart and stylish. No longer just for travel (or to be paired with sweats), even chic, lightweight duffels are adding ease to your life and your look. So if you can’t leave the house without it all, consider a nonfussy partner that’s practical and carefree — and know that it’s cool.

Salvatore Ferragamo suede drawstring, $1,150, Ferragamo.com
Beige suede drawstring, $109, Zara.com
Sabina Cross-Body Convertible, $119, AnnieSez.com
Cantania C. drawstring, $89.90, Mango.com
B.Bags by Barganza Houndstooth Bucket Bag, $49.99, 212-868-4596
Washed Bag-Backpack $68, Lulu-nyc.com
Maroon Tassel Satchel, Coco Mini Mercer Draw String, $68-$80, Deuxlux.com
Olivia + Joy Cross Body, Street Level Stud Draw String, $58- $59, Macys.com
Army Green Duffel, $39.95, Hm.com

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Photos: Fashion Week Trends

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  1. New York Fashion Week Spring 2011

    Top designers from Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week opted for a strong array of styles and influences. Find out which trends will be popular for the spring.   Full skirts At left, a model walks the runway at the Victoria Beckham Dresses Spring 2011 presentation. The theme of her collection was a "celebration of curves," focusing on both comfort and elegant style. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Asymmetrical hemlines

    The Vassilios Kostetsos Spring 2011 fashion show was inspired Greek mythology and the natural elements of Greece itself. The prevalent shape was a flattering cutaway skirt, longer in the back than in the front. The longer hemlines and softer cuts, which gently hugged the models’ forms, were both fashion-forward and classically beautiful — all fit for a goddess. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Highlighted shoulders

    The Jenny Packham Spring 2011 fashion show took pointers from the 1940s, specifically from screen sirens Lauren Bacall and Olivia de Havilland. Instead of padded shoulders — a popular trend from last season — shoulders were emphasized in more delicate ways. Some shoulders of dresses were gathered at the top, creating structure, and then floated away at the arm for effortless femininity. (Jemal Countess / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. High collars

    The Z Spoke by Zac Posen Spring 2011 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York. The popular designer opted for "fruit salad-inspired styles" that were both cheerful and dramatic. (Jason Decrow / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. White

    White is the new black. The clean color was all the rage at the Spring/Summer 2011 shows, including that of fashion darling Alexander Wang. (Karl Prouse/catwalking / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Loose fit

    Grunge certainly isn't dead yet. The Charlotte Ronson Spring 2011 collection featured several slouchy, urban styles. The designer said she was inspired by the "vibrant romance of Spain," which she paired with the androgynous feel of grunge. (Diane Bondareff / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Crochet

    Designer Vivienne Tam was inspired by Eastern influences for her Spring 2011 collection, titled "The New Silk Road." Ensembles included loose, bohemian pieces that incorporated lace and peekaboo crochet. (Bebeto Matthews / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Graphics

    The Prabal Gurung Spring 2011 fashion show featured geometric prints in fun, bold colors. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Cut-outs

    The Cynthia Rowley Spring 2011 collection included smart and sophisticated designs reminiscent of the popular board game Connect Four. (Bebeto Matthews / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Ivory

    Feminine, pretty ensembles marked the Jill Stuart Spring 2011 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Models showed off elegant and quirky outfits in silk, sheer fabrics and breezy ivory shades. (Fernanda Calfat / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Floral details

    Jason Wu, known for being one of Michelle Obama's favorite designers, sent down models in sophisticated, feminine dresses at the Jason Wu Spring/Summer 2011 fashion show. (Chris Moore/catwalking / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. High-waisted trousers

    A model walks the runway at the Vena Cava Spring/Summer 2011 fashion show, which featured fitted, geometric shapes and sleek silhouettes. (Chris Moore/catwalking / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Pop art colors

    Cheery, bright colors were popular at the Peter Som Spring 2011 collection. Turquoise, purple and hot pink took the stage, with Ellen DeGeneres closing the show in a rain of confetti. (Stephen Chernin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Sheer

    A sheer, dreamy piece from the Project Runway Spring 2011 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York. (Bebeto Matthews / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Draping

    The Nicholas K Spring 2011 fashion show opted for casual, layered looks with soft military influences. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Baggy bottoms

    It all hung loose at the Lacoste Spring/Summer 2011 fashion show. Designer Christophe took inspiration from 1930s tennis designs and mixed them with contemporary, baggy influences. (Karl Prouse/catwalking / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
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