Fashion & Beauty

To Have and to Hold: Festive Clutches

December 5, 2023

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Get these in your clutches. From left to right, a beaded martini glass from Judith Leiber, a fringe choice, a pop of pink from DeMellier, Fendi’s sleek style for minimalists,, a bubbly blue confection from Benedetta Bruzziches and Cult Gaia’s sculpted caldera. 

By Janet Kelly

PLUSHY velvets, adorable Mary Janes, fab faux furs. Perhaps you’ve noticed my latest posts on gussying up for a busy holiday season—in the midst of Christmas doings, remember Hanukkah begins tomorrow, Dec. 7. If you’re becoming anxious looking for a dress or jacket or skirt, think small-er. You don’t need to go for broke on a new outfit; sometimes all it takes to recharge the look of what you already own is the right accessory—say a big jeweled brooch, satin shoes or an oh-so-chic clutch, which is what I’ve spent the past week tracking down.

Unlike Financial Times writer Carola Long who amusingly rants about the impracticality of this bag style, I’m a fan of a clutch’s simpler lines, particularly for pairing with party clothes be it a flowing long gown or leather pants and a velvet jacket. I do confess they can be awkward to handle during cocktail hours, when you’re also balancing a Negroni and a plate of canapés. Of course, most clutches now come with detachable slim chains or straps to avoid any acrobatic moves on your part.

But whether they’re embellished with crystal beads like Judith Leiber’s or Kate Spade’s or sequins like Mango’s —or crafted in gold leather with fringe effects like Cult Gaia’s— the 14 clutch bags below are designed to dazzle.



Just imagine how well this art deco-inspired matchbook clutch will accent a black velvet jacket, an LBD or a red blazer. Made of resin, embellished with red and white bits of crystal, it’s glam all on its own and practical to boot. Measuring 4.5″ high x 7.25”wide x 2”deep, it will accommodate the current iPhone, has interior slots to keep your cards safe and a chain strap with a 22-inch drop for when you don’t feel like clutching it. Originally $528, it’s now selling for $275 at Kate Spade New York.



Whether you want to hold it in your hand or dangle it from your shoulder—with its long detachable chain strap—Mango’s clutch bag (4.72″h x 2.76″w x 9.45″l ) will amp up your party look. It’s also available in chocolate brown, but we’d choose the sparkling sequins in red for the most bang for your buck. It sells for $80.


A confection of glossy satin and tulle, Jimmy Choo’s Cloud Bow-Embellished Clutch is Lilliputian-sized (measuring 2.8″high x 4.7″wide x 2″deep and weighing 1.1 pounds), just big enough for a lipstick and cardholder. Nestle it next to your evening attire and when you want to sip and snack, let it drop artfully from its chain. It sells for $1,795 at Net a Porter.


It’s a book cover, it’s a bag, it’s art! Actually, it’s all three. Olympia Le-Tan reimagines Edgar Degas’ 1897 “Blue Dancers” pastel painting in this Ballerinas Book Clutch, hand-embroidered by Portuguese artisans with silk thread and felt appliqués. Lined in a Liberty print, it sells for $1,690 at Matches Fashion.


A sleek envelope clutch can read businesslike but when it’s covered in a shiny metallic, as is this Evie Clutch (6-by-9 inches), it can also say dressy. No matter where you carry it, it will brighten up a dark December day. Tuck it under your arm or hang from your shoulder with its adjustable chain strap. It sells for $248 at Frances Valentine.


Known for its original designs, Cult Gaia’s new Caldera Clutch (5.10″h x-3.3″w x 11″l) takes its name from the circular depression that forms after a volcanic eruption. Dents in the ultra-shiny silver (it also comes in shiny gold, red and blue) shell make it look like an unfinished sculpture. It’s big enough to hold a Pro size iPhone, but when not using, consider it arty decor. Set it down on its flat bottom to show it off. It sells for $598.


When you just need to carry some essentials, this small (5.12″h x 2.76″w x 2″l) neat and compact faux croc clutch ($39.99) from Mango will meet your needs. It comes with a detachable chain strap and closes with a magnetic button.


London-based accessories designer Anya Hindmarch is known for combing a sense of humor with quality craftsmanship. In lightweight, hand-woven leather, the Neeson Tassel Clutch incorporates the brand’s signature woven bow and leather tassel. A detachable wristlet offers hands-free carrying. Also available in holiday-ish gold, bronze and black velvet, the bag sells for $795.


Say hello to your inner flapper girl with this fun, Fringe Embellished Clutch from Cult Gaia. Nano-sized (4.1″h x 2.3″w x 1″d), the shell-shaped bag shimmers with golden tassels crowned with tiny balls. Should you want more sparkle, attach the metallic leather strap. The brushed brass bag sells for $528 at Neiman Marcus.


Anthropologie’s Frankie Clutch bears a strong resemblance to Bottega Veneta’s popular oversize pouch sans the oversize price tag. In a shiny red (above) or blue, black or green polyurethane, it’s not too precious or finicky to reserve for special occasions. At 5″ high by 9.5″ long by 3″ deep, it’s roomy enough for essentials and more day or night. It’s $78.


Position DeMellier’s Mini Cannes bag (8.75″ l x 5″d) in Barbie pink against your hip where it will add a pop of color to your winter clothing and maybe even boost your mood, too. It sells for $350 at Shopbop.


A sculptural oval bubble of air and color in plexiglass, topped with a crystal clasp and lined in silk, Benedetta Bruzziches’ denim-hued Ariel Clutch (4.75″h x 9.75″w x 2.5″d) sells for $2,875 at Saks Fifth Avenue.


Judith Leiber may be gone, but the glitter and the brand live on—for example, in this couture clutch bag in a martini glass shape, complete with a trio of olives. Beaded in crystals on a framed, hard-shell body, the top is lined in metallic. Its diminutive proportions (8″h x 5″w x 5″d) indicate it’s not meant to hold much more than a lipstick. Necessities like phones and eyeglasses, well, forget about those. The witty work of art sells for $5,795 at Neiman Marcus.


Minimalists with deep pockets will swoon over Fendi’s First Small Black  nappa leather bag (18cm h x 26cm w x 9.5cm d) with its sleek lines and oversize metal F clasp. It sells for $3,190.



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3 thoughts on “To Have and to Hold: Festive Clutches

  1. Nancy G says:

    So beautiful. And covetable. And impractical. I have a wonderful collection of clutches, many designer from Europe, from my mother-in-law, which are in a drawer and looked at only occasionally. When I mistakenly open that drawer looking for something else. Any ideas what to do with them?

  2. Judy Robinson says:

    What a fabulous collection! I feel like a kid in a candy store—I want them all!

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Eye candy, for sure!!!

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