Originally Published October 7, 2008 on New2NYC.org

So many things can be said about New York Women, but one thing is definitely true across the board – they love their accessories.  While every woman may not have the shoe fetish that Carrie Bradshaw has, inside every woman is the love for a great handbag.  Now, the label conscious crowd would tell you to just start on 59th and Fifth Avenue and work your way down until you have exhausted Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Lord & Taylor.  Sure you’ll find a fabulous bag, but everyone will recognize it and just how much you’ve spent for it. Oh, yeah… and you find a whole lot of people with the same exact handbag.  As a New Yorker with your own personal style, why not find a handbag made just for you?

Start your quest at Elaine Arsenault (www.elainearsenault.com) in the East Village.  This is not only an adorable boutique with a fantastic assortment of handbags, this is also her workshop. The bags, designed by the owner, are literally made in the back and sold in the front.  You may think this means the bags are all one trick ponies, but you couldn’t be further from the truth.  She sells styles in all shapes and sizes including long and short, briefcase, bucket shaped, clutches and small, large and mega-sized totes.  They are colorful, stylish and completely unique.

A second handbag boutique to check out is Anya Hindmarch (www.anyahindmarch.com), a designer based in London with shops on the Upper East Side and Soho.  While these bags are pricy, they are extremely cool, stylish and well made - think of it as an investment.  The boutique divides its handbags into daytime and evening, with larger all-purpose bags for day and smaller clutch-style purses for a night on the town.

Maybe you’re looking for handbags from different designers with different points of view.   If so, your destination is without a doubt Verve Accessories (www.vervenyc.com).  Their first store began the West Village Bleecker Street revival when it opened ten years ago.  While big names have overtaken this strip of the street, Verve is still alive and kicking with an eclectic assortment of well-known and young designer purses.  If you’re a handbag fanatic, this place will be a mouth-watering experience for you.  Verve Accessories also has a shoe store just down the street and a second accessory store on the Upper West Side.

Elaine Arsenault (323.691.6516) is open Monday through Saturday from 12pm to 7pm and Sunday from 11am to 6pm.  Is located at 305 East 9th Street (just off of 2nd Avenue).

Verve Accessories has two locations: in the West Village (212.691.6516) located at 353 Bleecker Street(between West 10th and Charles Streets); and on the Upper West Side (212.580.7150) located at 282 Columbus Avenue (between 73rd and 74th Streets). Both stores are open Monday to Saturday from 11am to 8pm and Sunday from 12pm to 6pm. 

Anya Hindmarch has two locations: on the Upper East Side (212.750.3974) 29 East 60th Street (off of 5th Avenue) and in Soho (212.343.8147) at 115 Greene Street (between Prince and Spring). Call the stores for hours. 

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