The season's best handbags fit -- and are meant to be carried -- in the palm of your hand. Need more than a cell phone, AmEx, and a couple of twenties to get you through the afternoon? Use your big tote all day, trim down your evening essentials, and pick up a sharp cosmetic bag that doubles as a simple summer clutch.
The obvious styles to convert actually look like miniature bags, such as Coach's blue paisley pouch ($68 at Coach stores -- a smaller version is $48). For a sweet, girlish look, pick up Pixie Yates's flat lavender envelope with ruffled trim ($40 at Clyde's). On July 4, we'll be making the scene with a starry blue one from Old Navy ($8.50 at Old Navy stores).
But soft things can be equally splashy. Try LiBags' faux-pythons (about $38 at Bigelow and Zitomer), Inca's woven plastics ($30 at www.incabag.com), or Bindya's embroidered, hippie-chic wools ($55 at Olive & Bette's). A knit pouch from The Sak comes in solids and stripes ($25 -- and many other items here are now 25 percent off). For a bit of preppy chic, check out vintage printed bags by PATCH nyc ($59 at Kirna Zabête).
Plastic pouches are harder to pull off, so pick carefully. Our faves: A floral style from Oscar de la Renta that'll dress down vintage frocks for casual evenings ($28 at Macy's) and Nordic House Designs' tiny, Marimekko-ish coated cotton -- this one really won't hold much, but maybe your date could carry that extra lipstick ($10 at Clyde's).
Clyde's, 926 Madison Ave., near 76th St. (212-744-5050); Bigelow Apothecaries, 414 Sixth Ave. (212-533-2700); Zitomer, 969 Madison Ave., near 75th St. (212-737-4480); Olive & Bette's (call 212-717-9655 for store locations); The Sak, 521 Broadway, near Spring St. (212-625-3200); Kirna Zabête, 96 Greene St. (212-941-9656); Macy's Herald Square (212-695-4400).
Picks of the Week
Betsey Johnson's fabulously funky summer clothes are now half price, from $75 to $150 per piece. Four stores in Manhattan, for locations, call 212-244-0843; A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Sat. 11-7, Sun. noon-7; 7/4-7/31.
Kirna Zabête is taking up to 75 percent off edgy designs from Balenciaga, Hussein Chalayan, Clements Ribeiro, and others, from $35 for a T-shirt to $1,225 for a Thimister gown. 96 Greene St. (212-941-9656); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Sat. 11-7, Sun. noon-6; 7/6-7/20.
Jill Stuart's sale means 50 to 75 percent off her pretty, flirty spring styles (pictured, right). You'll find buttery leathers, chiffon dresses, and cashmere, all for $50-$342. 100 Greene St. (212-343-2300); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Sat. 11-7, Sun. noon-6; 7/3-7/24.
Liz Lange's chic, streamlined maternity clothes are about 75 percent off: Dresses are $130-$150, pants are $70, knits are $50. 958 Madison Ave., near 75th St. (212-879-2191); A.E., M.C., V., checks; Mon.-Fri. 10-7, Sat. till 6, Sun. noon-5; 7/3-8/6.
Morgenthal Frederics is clearing top-end designer frames at half price (Gaultier, Armani, Helmut Lang, etc.), starting at $125. Prescription lenses for them are 10 percent off. For locations and hours, call 212-838-3090; A.E., M.C., V.; 7/3-7/17.