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Clutch these! Fall’s fashion-forward handbags

A woman's handbag is the daily accent that puts an exclamation point on her personal style. With that in mind, TODAY Style editor Bobbie Thomas profiles the fall's trendsetting bags and the best buys for under $100.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Let's face it, when it comes to handbags, most women just grab and go. These busy ladies barely have time to stop and ponder “Which one?” before the panic of “I'm already late!” takes over. Before you succumb to the pressure of the clock, you should consider your choice of clutch carefully. Your bag is the daily accent that puts an exclamation point on your personal style. Bobbie Thomas, TODAY Style editor and author of the Buzz column for In Touch Weekly, discusses this season’s trendsetting luxe bags and the best buys for under $100.

A return in time to “proper" dressing has been a recent focus of fashion, and this season's

crisply constructed bags add an "uptown," sophisticated feel to the look. Structured satchels and top-handle totes can actually force perfect "ladylike" posture. After all, you can't just toss a bag of this nature over your shoulder and slump — it demands to be carried in a feminine manner. You should either hold the bag by your side or rest it on your forearm (with your palm up and wrist relaxed) in true ladies-who-lunch-fashion.

Just because this bag is polished doesn't mean you should save it for special occasions. What makes this shape feel fresh is that fashion-forward ladies are incorporating it into their casual wardrobe, too. Just look at Katie Holmes, who carries two of the season’s most ladylike “it” bags almost every day. The star switches between Chloe’s Paraty satchel and Fendi’s F3 Secret Code bag, wearing both with her work or weekend attire. Here are five bags in this style for under $100:

  • Mock croc structured bag, $79,

  • Oversize black tote, $79, for stores

  • Quilted patent trim satchel, $79, for stores

  • Anya Hindmarch for Target structured satchel, $45,, available Oct. 12

  • City Style Trapunto Turnlock bag, $43,

The fun-loving, trendy type looking for an edgy glam will be excited to hear that the luxe

obsession for texture we’ve seen in seasons past has exploded into a rainbow of colors. Young trendsetters are pushing the spectrum of styles and shades, opening up a whole new world of exotic options. Believe it or not, even Hollywood’s biggest stars are content to play it safe with faux skins. Hillary Duff has been favoring laser-cut leather, stepping out recently with Stuart Weitzman’s purple “Anaconda” tote, and a variety of J.J. Winters’ “Croco” clutches. While you may think this wild style is hard to tame, the colorful embossed accents will work with more of your looks than a basic black or brown bag would. Here are five bags in this style for under $100.

  • Teal flap & blue envelope clutches, $42,

  • Pink faux skin oversize pleated clutch, $30, Barganza (212) 868-4596

  • City Style snake hobo, $35,

  • Sasha spotted clutch, $25,
  • Mossimo faux croc purple hobo, $29,

From multifunctional bags to messenger style, the practical gal on the go has a wide range of

versatile bags to choose from this fall. Look for items with extra straps, special pockets and hands-free features. Whether you’re a working woman with a busy schedule or a supermom who does it all, function has never been more in fashion.

Brooke Shields is the perfect example of a woman who appreciates a bag that takes care of itself, rather than adding to her juggling act. The “Lipstick Jungle” star and dedicated mother sports Donna Karan’s Aries messenger bag — which quickly converts from a neat purse to a cross-body bag. Here are six bags in this style for under $100.

  • Sabina black convertible bag, $50, for stores

  • Nylon convertible messenger bag on sale for $19.99,

  • Melie Bianco Blue Bucket bag, $86,

  • Piping chain satchel, $84,

  • 3-way convertible faux ostrich bag, $50, for stores

  • Shopping tote in brown/green, $70,
  • Gray fringe satchel, $68,

  • Nine West Teal fringe clutch, $79,

  • Sorpresa! fringe bags, $70-$100, Barganza (212) 868-4596

  • Miranda brown fringe chain bag, $75,

  • Topshop leather long fringed clutch, $47,

  • Tan fringe hobo, $19.99,, available in November

  • Suede fringe hobo, $78,