The choices are there, but you don't know if you love it or if your needs are met until you've had it around for a while.
The choice is difficult because not only is a handbag a useful, constant companion, it also makes a fashion statement.
While some women worry more about function than appearance, others prefer to be trendy and will sacrifice function for just the right look.
When asked what the must-have feature in a handbag is, women offered very definite answers:
It has to be a shoulder bag.
My purse has to have a cell phone compartment.
It has to stand up when I put it on the floor, and it has to have little metal thingys on the bottom so the bottom doesn't get gross.
It has to be an unusual color. No black purses in my closet.
My purse has to have an outside pocket for my keys. I hate digging for keys.
The answers go on and on.
Finding the right handbag isn't as easy as it may seem. A purse can't be so big that it could double for an overnight bag, or so small that it won't close when you jam everything in it.
Some women don't like having two handles on a shoulder bag because one strap is always falling off the shoulder.
With so many opinions, it's not surprising the handbag sections of department stores offer a mind-boggling selection.
Some women prefer to carry one purse all season and not change except for evening. Others like to change their purse with nearly every outfit.
Regardless of your preference, there's a handbag - or many - for you.
It's just finding it.
How to find the right one
Put a handbag you like on your shoulder while you're shopping. If it's heavy, imagine what it will be like when you put all your stuff in it. Too heavy.
Look in a full-length mirror while wearing the handbag in question. Is it in proportion with your body? Does the handle allow it to hang properly and at a good length?
If you're going for a fun, new color, make sure you have clothes the handbag will complement.
Consider compartments. Lots of them inside and outside a handbag seem to be a good idea for organizing contents but may mean spending a lot of time searching through compartments for keys, lipstick, etc.
Get the right material for your lifestyle. Trendy knit, crochet and fabric bags abound, but they're not as durable as handbags made of leather and leather-like materials. It's not wise to spend your entire handbag budget on a fabric purse.
Check the hardware on the bag. Is it attached securely? Will anything on the bag snag clothing? Will the bag close, even when it's full?
Give it a trial run. After using a new handbag for a few days, you'll know if you love it. If you do, go back and buy another one in the same or a different color. You'll be glad you did.
Think of the searching it will save you.