Handbag Etiquette

Most of the time I carry a satchel shaped handbag. It matches my aesthetic and is easiest on my shoulders and neck. I do have some shoulder and cross-body bags that I use when traveling and shopping. I also have a collection of clutches and very tiny bags for evening use. Daily, it’s a satchel. I carry it over my forearm or by the handles in my hand.

The handles however are not long enough to hook over my knees or the back of a chair in a restaurant. Consequently, my purse usually ends up balanced on top of my feet…if there isn’t an extra chair at the table.

The Portuguese have a superstition about placing your handbag on the floor. They believe it will negatively affect your finances by not showing respect for your money. Interesting premise, but I’m only concerned with the sanitary issues here.

Are you careful or concerned with your handbag hygiene?

Do you put your handbag down on the ground in restaurants? Think about where you place your bag when you get home.

Does it go on the kitchen counter…or worse, the kitchen table?


Several years ago I was given a purse hanger by a girlfriend. I couldn’t imagine myself bothering to use it, but it turned out to be very helpful. It unfolds and the weight of my purse helps secure it to the tabletop. It works on thick or thin tables and can even work over the back of a chair in a pinch.


I’m very conscious of where my handbag has been and because I’m finicky about where my guests handbags may have been, there is a lovely bench for them in my front hallway.


Where are you likely to place your handbag when you need to put it down?



  1. Good to know I’m not the only one balancing my handbag on my feet, at a restaurant! Like many others, I never ever have it on the floor.

    I’m a shoulder bag girl; occasionally cross body, especially in the city.

    Long, long ago, I admired an older man and when we’d had a business lunch together, he ‘jokingly’ called my large camel-colored cotton bag a ‘feedbag’. When he asked me out on a real date a few weeks later, I went to the department store that afternoon and bought the smallest bag I could find – a dainty little thing in mocha colored wicker, about 3 inches tall and 4 inches long. Oh to be young, and so easily influenced.

    I never look at evening bags, without remembering that size issue!

  2. For me, it depends on the bag and the circumstances. I prefer my bag on a chair, however, if there’s no room and my bag is not delicate, on the floor by my feet it goes. If small, on my lap with the napkin over it. When I travel, I use a very sturdy bag of excellent leather but quite battle worn so I wouldn’t mind putting it under the seat in front of me on flights. But I would never put my bag on the floor of a public restroom!

    It makes me crazy to see a purse on a cooktop as I have seen, even if the cooktop was not recently in use.

  3. Eeeew, I didn’t realize how dirty our handbags could get! At home, I keep mine in the same place all the time. If there’s an emergency, I always know where my purse is. I never, ever put my purse on a kitchen counter or table! I love a hobo style bag but it isn’t great for travel or shopping so I will switch to a cross body for that.

  4. I cringe when I see some purse on the floor of a public restroom peeking from under a door!

    I never ever place my handbag on the floor!

  5. Madame Là-bas says:

    I am not always aware of my handbag. I like it in Europe and in some finer Mexican restaurants when they bring a small chair for your packages. The floor is not a good place for these things and the back of the chair can be unsafe. I should buy a hook for dining out.

  6. I’m afraid I put it pretty much anywhere – and luckily have never had it stolen.
    I should be more attentive….!

  7. Coulda shoulda woulda says:

    Depends on the floor – homes are ok and even certain restaurants etc but half of my bags half feet on them. I also got that purse holder after a restaurant used those to hang the bags but they don’t work on all table types! But there is a strong superstition I have noticed but to be honest the tote I use the most gets banged about all over the place.

  8. I carry a Bagalini bag daily – a bit like a small backpack. It’s my everyday, go-to-work, go-to-the-market bag. It goes over my shoulder, on my back or gets held by a nice little handle at the top. When I sit, it slides over the side of the chair. I bought myself a little bag hook when I was in Las Vegas one fall – it’s great for when I use a ‘grown up’ handbag.

  9. We just returned from France and my daughter and I noticed everyone’s bags AND how they set them down in restaurants. We had one restaurant which brought a little chair to sit next to mine for my bag. We also noticed women with Birkin bags that placed the bag behind them in the chair when they sat at the table. It was all very fun and interesting as my daughter and I love hand bags and love to take note of them wherever we travel. We both have the same sort of hook you have for restaurants but lots of time mine is on the floor. Of course with a napkin protecting from any spills by the wait staff! Interesting questions….

  10. Bourbon & Pearls says:

    I won’t carry a handbag that I won’t put on the floor, I don’t like being seen as an overly precious lady who lunches type !

  11. i do put it on the floor, and then read a NY Times article this week about how dirty our bags are. Worse than toilets, i think! I have one of those bag hooks and really should make more use of it. Traveled to your blog from A Bloomsbury Life 🙂

  12. I had never thought about it although I am wary of putting it on the floor in a London restaurant for fear of having it stolen. I would love to know where you get those handbag rings.

  13. I have one of those purse hooks – and I use it when it fits. I’ll set my purse on the chair next to me, over my chair if I have that kind of purse with me, and a hook where it hangs when I walk in the door. I keep trying to go smaller and smaller, and just bought a beautiful italian leather purse that is compact, will hold all my essentials and should leave me hands free when I’m out on that kind of day. Will see.

  14. Judith/Ida says:

    Use a handbag hook,great idea Sulky hope someone is listening!

  15. I’ve been told that if you put your purse or wallet on the floor, that means you don’t respect your money. I think there might be some truth to that so I do my best not to put it there. Great blog!

  16. This year I began to place a box under my desk so I could set my handbag there. I love the hook idea, but currently do not have the space. I also appreciated when I traveled in Chicago that every restroom I walked into had a hook for the bag…I wish I found that more in Texas.

  17. Maybe it’s the satchel that looks like a “lady who lunches” type. After years of seeing a chiropractor I finally gave up shoulder bags for everyday use. One of my shoulders was getting higher than the other.

  18. Mine are always either on a shelf in my back room or if being used, hanging on one of my dining room chairs, which drives my husband MAD! I think I got one of those purse holders you show above in my christmas stocking one year, but I don’t think I ever used it. Now I want to go and find it!

  19. I try and find a chair for mine or failing that I hang it on the back of my chair. I was just saying to a friend that I wish restaurants simply had little hooks under their tables for us to stow our bags safely.

  20. I am always concerned about my purse, and most often hang it off the chair handle or stuff it the chair beside me beside me. I can’t imagine putting my purse on either the island or the table. I’ve been known to use a clorox wipe to clean the bottom of my handbag.

  21. There is a fabulous restaurant in Vegas called Tableau (sp?) in the Wynn. They have wonderful, beautiful little stools specifically for your purse. Their white chocolate waffles are really great too.

  22. I often put my bag on my lap – more out of concern for its safety than for cleanliness. I don’t want anyone swiping it from the floor or the back of my chair.
    I never put my bag on the table or kitchen counter but I do sometimes place it on the bathroom counter when getting ready. Generally, my it sits on the floor of my room which is carpeted or on top of my dresser.
    I keep hand sanitizer in my car and use it every time I get in except when I am leaving my home.

  23. Funny thing I perch mine on my feet too and I thought I was the only one who did this!
    Germs and spilled food and who knows what else is under the table…
    I’ve never owned one of those purse hooks but it might be a good time to invest in one.
    Great post for the day Jennifer

  24. I totally agree with this post. I NEVER put my purse on the floor. I would rather huddle over it in my lap awkwardly than carry around whatever germs are lurking on the floor. And yes, I am a bit of a germaphobe-there is always hand sanitizer in that bag as well. 😉
    Cheers, Heather @ Stylemindchic

  25. I recently started placing it behind me on my seat, and then sitting(perching) in front of it. Crazy, but it usually works!

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