Instant Classic: Ladylike Bags

From the grips of Grace Kelly to Gaga, top-handled bags have a strong hold on style.

grace kelly
From the grips of Grace Kelly to Gaga, top-handled bags have a strong hold on style.
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They're a sign of the times. In the '50s, a demure framed bag was a woman's counterpart to her husband's briefcase. In the '70s, they were filled with butterscotch and Kleenex as they dangled from the elbows of grandmothers.

Grace Kelly, 1956.

Howard Sochurek/Time & Life
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Now, in a fresh pastel palette, top-handled arm candy reflects not only our current pop-culture obsessions — think Mad Men, Pan Am, and The Help — but an increasing desire for a pared-down, minimalist look. Gone are the massive slouchy sacks of yore. When it comes to what you carry, less is more.

Louis Vuitton, spring 2012.

Gorunway.com
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Valentino at Stanley Korshak, $1,945; (214) 871-3600.
Courtesy of Designer
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Reed Krakoff, $990; (877) 733-3525.
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Miu Miu, $1,960; miumiu.com.
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Valextra, $3,050; barneys.com.
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Dior, price upon request; (800) 929-DIOR.
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VBH, price upon request; (212) 717-9800.
Denko Ivanisevic
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Prada, $3,990; prada.com.
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Louis Vuitton, price upon request; (866) VUITTON.
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Dolce & Gabbana, $1,825; (877) 70-DGUSA.
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