The Simple Things - - DECEMBER - Words: CLARE GOGERTY

“The clutch bag is the ideal prop to pose with at Christ­mas par­ties”

There are times when your faith­ful old hand­bag just won’t do. At­tend­ing a drinks party or a wed­ding with a scuffed leather bag hang­ing off one shoul­der bulging with its usual jum­ble of as­sorted bulky items sim­ply doesn’t cut the nec­es­sary dash.

What is needed on these oc­ca­sions is a neat, handy bag that com­ple­ments what you are wear­ing rather than pull it all out of shape and ren­der it shabby. Which is where the clutch bag steps up.

This slim­line, fre­quently rec­tan­gu­lar, ver­sion of the hand­bag comes with­out han­dles (although it of­ten has a de­tach­able strap) and in a va­ri­ety of lux­u­ri­ous fab­rics, rang­ing from vel­vet to patent leather. Some clutch bags are even be­jew­elled or beaded to give them a lit­tle ex­tra piz­zazz. Which makes one the ideal prop to pose with at par­ties. Hold it in front of your best frock and not only are your hands im­me­di­ately oc­cu­pied, thus eas­ing so­cial awk­ward­ness, but you are gor­geously ac­ces­sorised to boot.

Kate Mid­dle­ton knows about the power of the clutch and is rarely seen in public with­out a boxy ver­sion held in both hands be­fore her. So­cial com­men­ta­tors (well, mailon­line, to be hon­est) say she uses her bag as a shield and it is a sig­nal to the public not to ap­proach in the hope of a hand shake. More likely she doesn’t want to ruin the trim out­line of her LK Ben­nett suit with a clumsy shoul­der bag or hoik around a heavy hand­bag over one arm like her hus­band’s grand­mother.

The trim di­men­sions of a clutch bag ne­ces­si­tate strict de­clut­ter­ing and pro­vide a chance to be or­derly. There is lit­tle room in­side for any­thing more than a phone, lip­stick, your keys and a credit card. Wedge in a paper­back and you are in dan­ger of some ugly gap­ing, which will ruin the en­tire ef­fect.

The only down­side of a clutch bag is what to do with it when the party gets go­ing. A drink can be man­aged in one hand if you clutch the bag in the other, but what to do if a plate of dev­ils on horse­back ap­pear at your el­bow? And what about when the danc­ing starts? Should you dis­card the bag un­der a ta­ble as you take to the floor?

The an­swer is to in­vest in a clutch bag with the afore­men­tioned long, de­tach­able shoul­der strap. This can be tucked in­side the bag when you want to keep things stream­lined, and brought out when you want to keep both hands free. All party needs sorted.

The clutch: ideal for fend­ing off moody sax­o­phon­ists

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