I will be the first to admit that I am always on the lookout for a great day-to-night bag, and I have been for a long time: that perfect size which can fit everything I need, without being either too big (enticing me to carry more or just weighing me down) or too small (like playing a real life version of Tetris every time I load up my bag for the day). With the advent of the mini-bag craze – and at the same time my boys suddenly became teenagers, obviating the need for me to carry anything for them (and honestly, how could I possibly be a responsible parent if I carried anything for them anymore? And shouldn’t they carry a few things for me sometimes, too?) – the idea of what constitutes a day-to-night bag has been greatly expanded, with designers producing a whole new range of smaller options.
Sometimes, however, you have an important event to attend or you otherwise must go formal, and you just need an evening bag: not a day-to-night bag, not a small day bag, not even a large wallet (and yes, I plead guilty to all three), just a good old fashioned eeeeevening baaaaaaag. This is especially true this time of the year, when there are so many events to attend (right after Thanksgiving I personally had my fourth wedding of 2019 to attend, in addition to all that comes with the busy holiday season – weddings are common when one is in their late 20s or early 30s, not so much when one is my age!). So, what exactly constitutes an evening bag? Noting what an evening bag is not is really an easier way to get a view of what one is looking for: it is not one of my beloved small day-to-night bags, even the 25cm Kelly; it is not the mini version of a casual day bag, like the adorable mini Evelyne, and it is not any kind of wallet, even the very useful Constance. Generally, it is small and it is not anything shaped like a tote or even having any strap at all, other than a chain strap. Small handles are fine (and useful). Some would go so far as to determine whether the material of the bag is acceptable for formal use – the dictionary, that arbiter of modern style, states it should be made of “rich fabric or beaded, ornamented, etc.” – but fashion is so fluid now, I feel (and this is just my subjective opinion) that this definition is a bit outdated and just about any commonly used bag material can be designed formally enough to work for evening.
Essentially this limits our choices to clutches and small bags with either a minimal handle or a chain strap. Hermès makes quite a few lovely options, and not all of them require that you get on a wait list and then make small burnt sacrifices with the hopes that the bag gods will throw one your way.
Hermès Evening Bags
To get those rarefied options out of the way here, I will briefly mention the waitlist/prayer circle Hermès bags, which are really a trifecta of variations on the Kelly: the Kelly Pochette, the Kelly Cut and the Mini Kelly.
Kelly Pochette and Kelly Cut
Kelly Pochette Dimensions: 8.5″ long x 5.5″ high x 2.75″ deep
Kelly Pochette Price: $5500 for Epsom, $5800 for Swift, $11,600 for Ostrich
Kelly Cut Dimensions: 12.5″ long x 5″ high x 1″ deep
Kelly Cut Price: $5,950 for Swift
The Kelly Pochette and Kelly Cut are two smaller versions of the Kelly bag. Both have small adjustable top handles and both open and close via the sangles (straps) and turnlock. The dimensions of each are different, with the rectangular Kelly Pochette having a flat bottom and the longer but flatter Kelly Cut having nearly no bottom at all. The Kelly Cut is “cut” from the Kelly Longue, which was essentially a larger version of the Kelly Cut, but which is no longer in production.
Dimensions: 7.5″ long x 4.75″ high x 2.25″ deep
Price: $8,650 for Chevre, $8,000 for Epsom
The Mini Kelly is a small, literal version of the Kelly bag, having generally the same proportions but in a smaller size. Throughout the years there have been several iterations of the Mini Kelly, with the version currently in production called the Mini Kelly II (sizewise it is considered to be a Kelly 20). Although it comes with a leather strap, due to its very small size, it is not a day-to-night bag; some may choose to carry it like one (and there is nothing wrong with using it that way, when mine finally arrives I am sure that I will attempt to do just that!), but it really isn’t; if you want a small bag for day, you would be well served by trying out one of the mini versions of the Bolide, Lindy, Evelyne, Plume or Halzan, which are compact but not formal and are designed for daytime use without looking out of place in non-formal situations during the evening, due to their size.
If these options aren’t for you – or your prayers have not yet come to fruition – Hermès produces an assortment of really eye-catching and stylish evening options that truly should not be overlooked, as they are all beautifully designed, useful, and easily available. This list is not comprehensive, but gives you an overview of some fun and useful options. Often they are easy to find in a great array of colors and leathers, and can be just as fun and chic to carry. If possible, it’s always best to see these amazing bags in person! Note dimensions are approximate and prices are as of the date of publication.
Dimensions: 9″ long x 4.5″ high x 1.5″ deep
Price: $6,200 for box; $5,400 for Chevre and Swift, $22,900 for Alligator
The Medor is an old-school Hermès clutch which is perennially edgy and fashionable. The design is a direct echo of the Collier de Chien bracelet, with its distinctive spiked closure. The interior has a flat pocket on the back side. It easily fits all your evening essentials, and even right this moment it’s available online in some amazing colors (Rose Sakura!) and the most coveted leathers (including my favorite, Chevre). Due to the shape, this is the sort of clutch one would hold in the crook of the arm, rather than under the arm, but unlike flat clutches you can fit bulky items like lipstick or a small wallet inside without creating a bulge.
Dimensions: 10” long x 4” high x 2” deep
Price: $4,975 for Tadelakt, $5,450 for Box Calf
This is similar in size and shape to the Medor, but with a Chaine d’Ancre style clasp instead of the spiked Collier style. It also has two very small flat pockets at the back of the interior. It’s definitely a bit flashy with its very bold hardware, but at the same time I feel that the clasp gives it a chic, modern vibe. Unlike some of the other evening bags, this one seems to be more readily available in exotic leathers.
Jige Elan Clutch
Dimensions: 11.4″ long x 5.9″ high x 1″ deep
Price: $3,675 for Swift, $5700 for Swift with Lizard Closure, $19,500 for Crocodile
The Jige is a flat envelope-style clutch with a simple strap closure that slides into an H on the front. This design fits very easily under the arm, but due to the flat shape, one would be cautious carrying anything bulkier than a cell phone or a card holder inside of it. It’s very popular and usually easy to find in an array of exciting colors as well as neutrals. If you want an evening bag that you can take to any formal event without worry, this will do the trick.
Dimensions: 5″ long x 9″ high
Price: $5,350 for Epsom
The Cherche-Midi is a very understated option. The body is structured, with minimal hardware, and the simple interior has room for your basics. It has two flat pockets on the inside. This bag is another option as a go-anywhere piece for those who prefer their clutches structured and not flat.
Clutch Dimensions: 8.3″ long x 4.7″ high x 3.1″ deep
Clutch Price: $3,350 for Chevre
I personally think the the Opli has a very cool vibe to it. Folded like origami, the creative layout has an edgy look, yet is still quite minimalist. While unstructured and easy to carry, there is still enough room inside for what you need. It closes with a hidden snap and even has genuine (not flat) interior pockets! The best part: the least expensive of the lot here – even less than some of Hermès’ wallets.
Dimensions: 8.3″ long x 6.3″ high x 1.6″ deep
Price: $6,350 for Chevre
Another slightly edgy look for an evening bag due to the hardware, I am a huge fan of the more organized interior of the Verrou Clutch, with both a snap pocket and a separate interior pocket. It treads on the larger side for formal, so I am also including the smaller Verrou Chaine mini, which probably is more of a day-to-night bag, but worn with enough verve can sneak a ride with you into your formal events (and paying its way by freeing up a hand for you during cocktail hour).
Verrou Chaine Mini
6.7″ long, 5.5″ high and 1.7″ deep
Price: $7,900 for Chamkila Goatskin
Dimensions: 13″ long x 8″ high x .4″ deep
Price: $5,200 for Swift, $7,050 for Swift with Lizard
I’ll be honest: I don’t quite get this one, and the photos that Hermes.com provides don’t exactly help. It is the epitome of understated and simple, and it has the advantage of being nearly completely flat and literally go-anywhere; perfect for an event while you are away.