Those funky bags dangling from smartly accessorized arms and shoulders these days aren't lunch pails, camera bags or even canteens--they're handbags.
Never have pocketbooks come in so many retro- and forward-looking shapes and textures. Small, geometric shapes--circles, hexagons and triangles--are hot for spring. So is vintage-looking vinyl, particularly in pink, polka-dot, lime green or zebra stripes. The idea is to evoke either Jackie O. or Barbarella, but with a dash of '80s whimsy.
"We have about six styles, and they're selling well," a spokeswoman for Bullocks of Thousand Oaks says.
Some designers update old-fashioned shapes with patent leather, fake fur or plastic. Exposed stitching, piping and metal clasps are other favorites. At Bullocks, two hot sellers are the half-moon bag and the canteen-style handbag.
A spokeswoman for Sacha of London says the store's handbags sell for between $20 and $40.
"We just got some purses in that my grandmother would love," a saleswoman in the Sherman Oaks store says.
"They're shiny and square and have little handles like lunch boxes." Lynn Peire, of Woodland Hills, has three of the black patent leather purses. "They're different, they're unusual and they're a real conversation piece," she observes. "I haven't seem them anywhere else."