Purse Etiquette

purse etiquette

You might think that understanding how to hold and wear your purse is not a big deal but as ladies, we love purses, handbags, tote bags or just about anything where we can put our essential things. 

There are different types of purses. There is a clutch, a long strap, a short strap, cross body, and many more. They add an appeal to our daily outfit. You might agree to this but I believe we all have an everyday purse that holds everything, even a nail clip or some random thing like a candle! This is true even for me. These days, I have a hand held thermometer in my purse to take the temperature of those who serve me like my hairstylist, dentist, etc.

As we move from work, to meeting friends, to going for family visits, we might change purses from one to another. But did you know, in etiquette, a lady should never leave her purse behind? Even if you just carry a chapstick, a mini wallet, or an ID. A purse is very important especially for the teens and adults alike for when we might not exactly predict our period. We need to have a sanitary napkin just in case.  A lady never leaves her home without a carrier for her essentials.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s discuss further, purse etiquette.

When meeting someone, which in the American culture, mainly includes handshaking, when safe, wear your purse or handbag on your left shoulder if it has a strap. Or you may hang it on your left forearm. If there is no strap, you may also hold it in your left hand, clutching it firmly in hand.

When you wear your purse on the left side, it leaves the right hand free to shake hands. Remember, your right side engages people when meeting them, so you want to leave your right side free. You certainly don’t want to wear your purse on your right side. You may lean in to give a handshake, and your purse swings and hits the person. That’s not proper etiquette. Even if you hold your purse in your right hand, you would be forced to switch the purse to the left hand when it’s time to shake a hand. That can be quite awkward.

To prevent all the mishaps and awkwardness, I recommend you always wear your purse on the left side or hold it with your left hand. 

NEVER EVER put your purse under your armpit, it is very unhygienic.

When wearing a cross body bag, it becomes easier. No need to transfer the bag and no hindrance at all as the bag sits in front of you and not on the sides.

Now onto placing your purse...

NEVER EVER place your purse on a table regardless of the table. Unless you have purchased that table solely for your purse, make every effort not to place your purse on the table. 

Another place I recommend you do not place your purse is on the kitchen counter. The same scenario exists. The kitchen counter is where you prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That’s where you chop your vegetables, etc. The germs from the bottom of your purse may truly contaminate what you are preparing.

I also recommend you never place your purse on the floor or any unclean surface. I hope this was an eye-opener for you.

Clearly, you see now that it indeed matters where you place your purse. You have been advised on the best side to carry your purse and where you should not place it. When you heed this advice, you will indeed demonstrate proper purse etiquette. 


We always emphasize how learning new things will always be part of life and no one can take it away from us. From the Inside Out School of Etiquette teaches etiquette to children and adults. Many topics are available for you! So that you will be prepared for when you need it.

If you want to know more, we have paid videos and FREE videos for you. We also have an intensive 5-Week Masterclass conducted by the owner, Jackie Vernon-Thompson live via zoom, if you ever want to be a Certified Etiquette Consultant and teach in your area and virtually! This is for everyone globally and we will try to help and educate as much as we can.

Our classes are conducted virtually and in-person for children and adults.

For any of your inquiries, reach us at info@fromtheinsideoutsoe.com, call us at 9548706414. Visit us at www.fromtheinsideoutsoe.com

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