Cozy up to a new carryall! Best fall bags

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’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,
Patent Leather Yo-Yo, $1,750,
Amazona multi-color in suede, $1,800-$2,000
Tassel Frame Bag, $109.53,
Jessica Simpson La Couture Frame Satchel, $88,
Gray/Black Soft Top Handle, $49,
Cooperative Spectator Bag, Ecote Tooled Lady Bag, $48-$88,
Vintage Follie Hard Case, $39.50,

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,
Leopard Big Mama Bag, $2,480,
Faux Fur Lock Clutch, Leopard Vanity Case, $80-$90,
Nicole Miller Maven Satchel, Mondani Agnes Snake Skin Satchel, $49--$80,
Hype Frankie Shoulder Bag, $68,
Rampage Emma Clutch, $68, 1-800-497-1631
Peekaboo Crossbody, $59,
Ecote Faux Fur Hobo, $58,
Faux Fur Overnight Satchel, $100,
B.Bags By Barganza Zebra Crossbody, $38, 212-868-4596
Mulberry For Target Mini Cross Body, $29.99, 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,
Beige suede drawstring, $109,
Sabina Cross-Body Convertible, $119,
Cantania C. drawstring, $89.90,
B.Bags by Barganza Houndstooth Bucket Bag, $49.99, 212-868-4596
Washed Bag-Backpack $68,
Maroon Tassel Satchel, Coco Mini Mercer Draw String, $68-$80,
Olivia + Joy Cross Body, Street Level Stud Draw String, $58- $59,
Army Green Duffel, $39.95,