Advice for Students

Handbag Etiquette When Dining Out

September 25, 2013  |     |   0 Comment

Have you ever thought about where the proper area is to place a handbag when dining out?  I have been asked this question often and was inspired to share my thoughts because this is a common dilemma for many women.  During the day, I usually carry a larger handbag than the one I would carry to go out in the evening. The size of one’s handbag has an impact on where it can be placed.

The rule-of-thumb is that it no matter what the occasion, it is a big no-no to put your handbag on the dining table. It is considered rude.  When you think about it, our handbags have been placed on more public washroom and restaurant floors than we can count, so for hygiene reasons alone, common sense should dictate how inappropriate it would be to set your handbag on a dining table!

My daytime handbags tend to be large because I practically put everything I need in that bag – from my keys, to my makeup bag, to my computer!  If you have a business lunch or are meeting someone for coffee for instance, it is appropriate to place your handbag on an empty seat next to you.  However, it is important that you always consider your environment.  If you are at a coffee shop, it is proper etiquette to only take up one seat per person and not to occupy a full seat with your belongings.  If you are at a restaurant and you are placed at a table that happens to have an extra place-setting, this is a much different situation.

If there is no chair available or you know it would be inappropriate to occupy an empty seat with your purse, another option would be to hang your purse from the corner of the chair.  If, however, your chair has a rounded back, you may have to suck it up and place your purse – no matter how beautiful or expensive it may be – on the floor next to your chair.  In a tight space, you should place it under your chair so that it is out of the way of the waitstaff and incoming or outgoing customers.

Something else you could consider is using a purse hook.  I received one as a gift from a friend a few years ago and it has been the most practical and awesome little contraption I have ever owned!  A purse hook is a small device that hooks over the edge of a table so you can hang your handbag on it in order to keep it off the floor. I now own two and always have one of them in my handbag as an option.  Side note:  they make a great hostess gift!

Evening bags tend to be easier to figure out where to place when dining out.  Many evening bags come in a clutch style or a wristlet style.  An evening bag is small enough that it can be placed behind you in your chair at the small of your back, or lying flat on your lap underneath your napkin.

Here is my final thought to offer you about handbags – though it does not have to do with where to place it when dining, but where to place it when networking or socializing. If you are at a networking event or any kind of social event, always keep your handbag – whether it is a daytime handbag or evening – in your left hand, over your left shoulder, or on your left wrist.  This allows you to keep your right hand free to greet and shake hands with people as well as to give and receive business cards.

Most importantly, where ever you go, make sure you keep your handbag safe and secure so that it does not disappear and end up in the wrong hands! That would be a whole other dilemma!

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