It's all in the bag

A colorful collection of bags from Bottega Brandina on King Street.

It's a year-round question that is especially relevant as the mercury rises and the days grow longer. What bag/purse/satchel should you be using?

For some, the answer comes swiftly and there is a go-to bag that works for every day in every season. Others will struggle with the bag's ultimate purpose: daytime, nighttime, work, play, errands, beach time ... the list goes on.

There are enough bag types to write a book about, but looking forward to spring and summer, the key is versatility. And that shows in this year's trends.

The user-friendly cross-body bag has been on the rise in popularity for the last few seasons. Its smaller size and easy handles make it a favorite.

Weezie Hiott, buyer for Gwynn's of Mount Pleasant, says the easy-to-carry bags offer “accessibility and comfort without compromising the look of a great oufit.”

Hiott recommends going for a color that will really pop with your look, such as the fun shades from Marc by Marc Jacobs.

While extolling the virtues of the cross-body, Hiott admits that the carry-all tote bag also has its place.

“Large totes can be multifunctional. Day, beach and weekend bag all in one,” she says.

Some of the most popular tote styles right now are the Louis Vuitton “Neverfull” in its various incarnations and Goyard's monogrammed tote that comes in any color of the rainbow and can be personalized.

Susan Seeger, buyer and manager of Bottega Brandina at 318 King St., likewise finds totes to be great accessories.

“I think if it's the right balance in size, it doesn't matter what you have in it,” she says. “It just feels like a great bag.”

The bucket bag is another trend that Seeger loves in this category. A bucket tote has the same functionality but a more laid back feel than the larger, boxier totes.

A beach bag often is just a beach bag. But sometimes it's also a day bag and the bag you have to run to the store with before the beach.

Both Hiott and Seeger agree that a beach bag should not be just another plastic sack.

“A beach bag is the perfect accessory to a casual day look or great addition to a day at the pool,” Hiott says.

“Who wouldn't want to be walking around with the feeling of the sea at all times and creating a new way of wearing an incredible accessory?” adds Seeger.

The most casual of the bag trends, the backpack is back in action.

Hiott sees this as being one of the biggest bag trends in addition to the cross-body and other smaller bags.

Although it's not as polished as carrying a tote or cross-body, the backpack makes up for that in functionality.

For an on-the-go person, a backpack can be a great alternative to a messenger bag or a briefcase, both of which are starting to see their popularity slide.

For a long time, people were inundated with the newest “it” bag. Most of those bags aren't even remembered today. Although there are classic bags that never go out of style, including the Hermes Birkin or the Chanel 2.55, the time for an “it” bag is over.

Fashion today is more flexible and allows people to express a little more of their own style and still remain on trend.

Whether your style leans more casual or more formal, there is a look and style that fit. Just remember to focus on fun colors, patterns and classic shapes. With those things in mind, your bag will be the most stylish on the block.

Seth McCormick Cooke is a stylist and freelance writer based in Charleston. Reach him at