This season, ultrachic bag designers -- we're talking Gucci, Calvin, Armani -- seem to be echoing Mother's finger-wagging about the gaucheness of being seen in public with a strap showing. So why not step out with a smart little clutch and leave the old bag hanging at home? Even if you can't fork over a grand for a rectangle of leather, adorable knockoffs abound, and we've browsed for five bags under $150 -- and one for a bit more -- that you'll definitely want under your arm.
We love French Connection's dressed-up denim ($88 at French Connection stores): It's simple enough to tote around by day, but the gold piping and flower give it enough of a sophisticated edge to carry you into night. DKNY's red leather clutch ($150) is a classic -- elegant, sleek, and large enough so that your essentials won't come spilling out each time you undo the clasp. H&M, as always, delivers the goods at a shockingly low price: A gold, faux-leather clutch with a rhinestone buckle will add some camp chic to your low-key threads for a mere $17 -- absolutely promtastic! At Express, you'll get the skinny ($48) -- its subtle-size black clutch will hold credit cards, keys, and maybe a lipstick, perfect for a night when you don't want to feel in the shadow of your bag. Not only does A|X Armani Exchange's edgy, slick black leather bag ($88) look great in its own right, it'll dress up virtually anything in your wardrobe. And if a bit of a splurge won't leave you too strapped, we recommend Betsey Johnson's feminine-yet-funky pink clutch: It's just the right size, and both the cotton-candy color and the leather are supersoft ($250).