Unique Holistic Personal Stylist & Image Consultant Training

The Subtle Psychology of Handbag Holds

The way a woman carries her handbag might just be completely random, but some body language experts believe that your handbag hold might emit secret signals that never crossed your mind before (of course, keep all of this to yourself, or they won’t be secret anymore).

When we think about carrying a ‘statement bag’, perhaps it is more than just the bag itself making a statement. Interesting, isn’t it? It brings to mind the famous painting by René Magritte which depicts a pipe along with a quote by the artist in French “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” which means “This is not a pipe.” In later years, Freud referenced the painting when he said, “Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe”, and quite possibly a handbag hold is just that, revealing absolutely nothing in particular about the wearer. But let’s be honest, where’s the fun in that?

Here at the Style Coaching™ team, we love to combine our passion for all things stylish with our love of personal development, self-awareness and various forms of non-verbal communication. We believe that the clothes a woman wears reveal insights into her mindset, how she perceives herself, her values, and how she wishes the outside world to perceive her too.

During our Style Coach™ diploma courses, learners discover that clothes and body language play a huge role in our unspoken communication. According to body language experts, there are some common ways women carry their handbags which provide insights into their personality traits, feelings and genuine emotions.

In any case, we believe that confident posture is essential to projecting a stylish image, so our Style Coaches™ learn how to integrate confidence coaching and personal styling. When we think about the physiology of a confident person, we visualise a person standing up straight with their shoulders back, looking relaxed and comfortable in their own skin. If they are carrying a handbag, it is held in a way that appears natural and effortless for the wearer – without any hint of self-consciousness, insecurity, rigidity, awkwardness, or discomfort.

WAY #1 – Worn over one shoulder with the bag swinging freely

When a woman wears her bag over her shoulder, it seems she doesn’t feel a need to hide behind it. The image she projects is one of confidence and self-assuredness since the front of her figure is exposed an unobstructed. It also emits a cool and chilled vibe because the shoulder line drops slightly and appears to be more relaxed. It also gives off an air of practicality, functionality and self-sufficiency because the wearer’s hands are free to engage with whatever the day throws at them.

WAY #2 – Worn over one shoulder with the bag tucked close to the body

This carrying style is not quite as relaxed, because the bag is being held more rigidly and kept under the firm control of the overlapping arm. Although practical, it can look less effortless and more as though the handbag is being used as a kind of comforter for a woman who feels insecure, self-conscious, or nervous. This is especially true when the opposite arm is folded across the body to tightly clutch the underside of the bag as well as the shoulder straps. Women seen carrying their bag in this way can also appear quite tense and ‘uptight’, as though they may need to relax and lower their shield.

WAY #3 – Worn cross body with the bag resting on the hip

Many body language experts surmise that wearing your bag across your body is a silent form of defensiveness for someone who secretly feels insecure, shy, or otherwise reserved. It’s like the quote by legendary Times fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham, who said: “Fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life.” When you place your bag across your body, it’s like becoming an urban warrior and an insecure person feels just a bit more confident and ready to take on the day’s challenges. Their hands are free, their belongings are safe and secure, so there’s less to feel anxious about.

WAY #4 – Worn in the crook of the arm

We frequently see ‘statement bags’ displayed and ‘on show’ when placed in the crook of the arm. Some women even leave their forearm purposefully extended up and slightly away from their body, so that their bag can’t possibly be missed. Fashion and status-conscious women, as well as ‘Dramatic Style Personalities’ often wear their bags like this to highlight a desirable designer item.

Historically, aristocratic women would have only worn a bag as an adornment to their outfit. In terms of practicality Vs aesthetics, bags worn in this manner prevent the wearer from easily using one of their arms, which projects an air of high-status (think of how the Queen carries her bag).

This handbag hold is an intriguing one, because it can provide clues of high confidence, a passion for fashion, and an outgoing character… but equally it can hint towards deeper insecurities and a need to project a clear ‘high-value’ image as a defence mechanism for low self-esteem.

WAY #5 – Worn tucked under the arm

Usually, a bag would only be held like this if it were a clutch, but in recent years there’s been a fashion trend for this type of hold even if the handbag has straps, a chain or handles. When you see a woman carrying her bag tucked under her arm but without using the handles, you can assume she is quite fashion-conscious or aware of fashion trends, or a creative freethinker who does things her own way. It projects a message of being relaxed and comfortable in her outfit, effortless and chic. Of course, to appear ‘effortlessly stylish’ one must pay attention to those beautiful finishing touches. But crucially, the final result is an outfit that appears loosely and casually pulled together, as if by second nature. Women who wear their handbag like this are confident in their style and are unconcerned about the opinions of others.

WAY #6 – Held in the wearer’s hand with their arm hanging down

Some bags offer you multiple options for how you might carry them, while others are only intended for carrying by short handles. When you see a woman choosing to hold her bag hanging down (even when it could be worn on her shoulder) it projects an air of nonchalance and a laid-back attitude towards style. Conversely, bigger and more structured bags with short handles give the impression that the wearer is a professional woman of independence, self-sufficiency and importance. It is like carrying a stylish briefcase – the wearer might have a serious character or a Classic Style Personality.

If you enjoyed learning about the psychology of our style choices and the silent communication of the clothes we wear, then you might love to pursue a career in holistic Style Coaching™. The Style Coaching Institute® is the only training academy in the world which offers authentic, official and original Style Coach™ training for personal stylists who will only accept the gold-standard of professional training. Explore the rest of our website to discover how you can study to become a Certified Style Coach™ through one of our worldwide training courses.

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