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How to choose a frame handbag

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I want to talk about handbags, but I’m starting with shoes. Bear with me. I’ve pretty much kicked the wear heels, carry flats shoe habit – it’s a bit noughties, frankly, and that’s no good in the new Roaring Twenties. Also, the degree to which wearing heels makes you look smarter is cancelled out by the lumpy tote bag with your trainers in, bumping against the other hip.

The shoes are relevant, because they are one of the key questions in determining your bag size. Along with other size issues including, but not limited to, where you sit on hardback fiction versus podcasts, Apple Pay against receipt-stuffed wallet, 20/20 vision or essential spare glasses.

Really, bags should come sized, like clothes do. One size does not fit all. The one for you has to be exactly the right size, and everybody’s list of carry-everywhere items is different. The adorable peanut-sized cuties in shop windows everywhere are completely pointless on me – I might as well buy a doll-sized dress. And an enormous bag doesn’t work, either. If the bag is too big, I just put more stuff in, which means forgotten pens blotting the lining, and my phone chirping unanswered while I frantically scrabble.

Size matters but shape matters, too. I find a structured, framed bag, like this one, makes me less likely to throw in pointless last-minute additions; I know exactly how much I can carry, with no licence for just-in-case lob-ins. One that has compartments or pockets, so that I know where everything is. (One’s best self does not scrabble.)

Related: How to wear trousers for evening | Jess Cartner-Morley

The framed bag has been largely out of vogue for the last decade. Instead we’ve had a lot of squishy holdalls, posh baskets, deconstructed doctors’ bags, and holdalls. But it is making a comeback – inspired, ironically, by the success of those teeny-tiny, doll-sized cuties, which are now coming sized up.

There is something bracingly grown-up about a framed handbag. It dresses up your outfit the way an extra piece of jewellery would. Holding this one, I feel I’m halfway to a brooch and cloche hat. But what’s wrong with that? After all, it is the Roaring Twenties, now.

• Bag, £29, topshop.com. Dress, Jess’s own. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Lucy Ridley using Maria Nila and Nars.

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