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Take note of this season's handbag hot list

The latest crop of “it” bags are setting new trends this fall. Study up because style is in session with “Today” contributor Bobbie Thomas.
/ Source: TODAY

From wild prints to polished perfection, this season's must-have handbags all have one thing in common — they're sure to turn heads! Bobbie Thomas, “Today” style contributor and author of “The Buzz” for In Touch Weekly, is here to help you find the perfect carryall companion with this handbag tutorial.

Lesson one: Animal instincts
If you're afraid to jump into this season's jungle of ferocious fashions, tame this trend with a tote. Take a walk on the wild side and hunt down a handbag that will liven up any outfit. While some of the most exotic styles are made up of skins, fabulous fauxs are also catching the eye of many fashionistas. Bebe’s Snake Embossed clutch ($89; bebe.com) and Rampage’s Tabloid Hobo ($68; rampage.com) will charm any PETA activist with their look-alike luxe feel, while Moo Roo ($665;  mooroo.com) and Freda LA ($45; fredala.com) flaunt various forms of faux fur.

Prowl for printed bags like Coach’s Legacy Zebra bag ($798; 866-262-2440), Nine West's In Your Dreams cow patterned tote ($145; NineWest.com) or Bebe’s Signature Jacquard Leopard Trim hobo ($239; bebe.com) to help unleash your inner-trendiness. And of course, the designer kings' roar! Louis Vuitton’s signature monogram has mated with a leopard look this season, while both Prada ($2,850; 212 327-4200) and Derek Lam ($990-$2,150; Intermix; 516-627-5840) have opted to ornament their designs with dragons and rams respectively. But rest assured, chasing and capturing a couture-like creature can be easier than it appears, as stores at your local mall are following the pack and stocking their shelves with fierce handbag finds.  Lesson two: Heavy metal
Mohawks and pleather pants may be trying to climb back up the charts on the fashion hit list, but it's metallics and hardware that are taking center stage this season, with easy on the ears (er … eyes) styles that are sophisticated and simple. From classical listeners to rock star ravers, everyone is part of the chain gang. While Chanel’s classic chain styles are hotter than ever, their newest designs have an edgy twist ($1,225-$2,285; Chanel.com). Meanwhile contemporary line Kooba has its own loyal fans, all of whom are cheering loudly for the Haydon chain handle bag ($295; Neiman Marcus stores).

Carryalls with zipper details like the Cynthia Rowley Zipper Bag ($385; Cynthiarowley.com) are helping to seal the deal on hardware as a must-have for fall. But if actual metal is too tough a trend for you to take on, seek out some shine with a metallic bag. Yves Saint Laurent’s Double Bag ($995-$1,195; 212-980-2970) is a two-in-one designer deal, with a metallic side for your star moments, and a matte reverse for discreet days off. And finally, Lotta Stenson’s boutique has hit a high gold bar with their hard case metal clutches ($89-$110; Lotta 323-852-0520). So whether you're touring from town to town or setting up for a studio session, you'll be sure to have a hit with a heavy metal handbag!

Lesson three: Framework
Hallelujah for handbags that are literally taking shape this season! With layers of knitwear and volume galore waiting to be worn, why not add some form (and chic contrast) with a fab frame bag? As slouches are being left behind in favor of more defined designs and top handle totes, it's the granny-chic elements that are sure to inspire you to add structure into your life! Styles like Hunting Season's quilted leather bag ($1,295; 212-249-2254), Tod’s T Bag ($1,245; todsonline.com) and Marc Jacob’s Maggie bag ($1,650; 212-924-6126 or marcjacobs.com) are leading the pack with perfectly polished examples of this trend.

And for those who like to clutch more than a cell phone and lipstick for an evening out, it’s time to celebrate because your little companion has just gotten bigger! That’s right, it’s time to size up your evening accessories with a clutch that carries a whole lot more than it used to. Amici ($57; Girlshop.com) and Nine West ($65; ninewest.com) are just a few brands who offer affordable oversized options similar to the super-sized celebrity versions you’ll see on the red carpet.

Lesson four: Patent and a pop of color
While black and gray ruled the runway for fall, a burst of color on a shiny patent bag provides a fashion-forward look that is both brilliant and bold. Hot hues like purple, red and green are gearing up to be the surprise shades in handbags this season, and designer dream bags like the Gucci shoulder bag ($1,790; 800-234-8224 or Gucci.com) and the Goldenbleu Parker Collection ($270-$960; Goldenbleu.com) are putting the ‘pop’ back into patent. Affordable options like the Maxximum Zhivago bag from Maxx New York ($135; maxx.com) make a bold bag decision less intimidating. But no matter which style you choose, with an eye-catching handbag as your arm candy, it’s safe to say that your future is definitely looking bright and shiny (even on a rainy day).

Class dismissed.