Think about the way you carry your favorite bag on the daily—do you typically grab it and arrange it on your arm (or shoulder) the same way, no matter what? According to body language experts, it's not a totally random decision. Instead, we're revealing a lot about our personality whenever we've got a bag in hand. Kathlyn Hendricks, Ph.D., has made a living out of talking about this exact kind of stuff, deciphering hidden messages in how we move and coauthoring a dozen books (her latest is Conscious Loving Ever After). She talked fashion with us, diving into some of the most common positions to carry a bag.
Way #1: Worn over one shoulder with the wearer keeping the bag close to her body
You're practical and driven by utilitarian motives. "It points to the wearer prioritizing her freedom of movement over the display elements. She's not a peacock, just getting things done," Hendricks explained. The read is true of this carry style in general, but especially so if, like Jessica Alba, you tend to use bags of the smaller variety.
__Way #2: Worn over one shoulder with the bag swinging freely __
"The way [Jaime King's] bag is swinging and open indicates a priority on ease and functionality over display." Keeping it buckled, closed, and situated at the front of her body might allow passerby to better check out the brand/shape/fabric/color, but it wouldn't be as practical.
Way #3: Worn cross-body with the bag in front of the body
Placing your accessory in front of your person, à la Gigi Hadid, is almost a form of armament. "This style of bag-wearing often indicates a more cautious personality, someone who is reticent or shy. Her downward gaze and slightly folded up body posture support the suggestion of a slightly defensive personality." Per Hendricks, it's not uncommon to see celebs holding their purses like this as a way to avoid contact with paparazzi photogs.
Way #4: Worn cross-body with the bag behind the body
Pair the carry with Kendall Jenner's wide stride and loose limbs and you find "an urban warrior with a clear goal. The bag is incidental to her independent self-image, flung on for its functionality." Clearly—we can't even get a proper view of it to identify the brand or style.
Way #5: Worn in crook of elbow
"Bags worn like this often indicate a priority on status and position," Hendricks said after checking out this pic of Emmy Rossum. "You're basically de-operationalizing one of your arms in order to carry something of that size, telling everyone you don't need to use both arms as you move around in the world. This harkens back to the times when women's packages were carried for them." This manner of carrying best shows off the brand specifics of the bag you're carrying, signaling your status to "those in the know" who can properly identify it. So, while your grandparents might not know Rossum's bag is Dior, fashion lovers do.
Way #6: Held in hand
Some bags are so tiny there's no other option, but what if, like Diane Kruger's Chanel tote, various straps give you multiple ways to carry it? "Her bag is so heavy she needs to adjust her weight to carry it and is leaning to the side. This is equivalent to carrying a briefcase and communicates the importance of the woman's job," Hendricks said. We know she's an actress who gets to wear beautiful dresses (like this Thakoon stunner), but by carrying her bag like this, she's subconsciously working to remind us she's more than someone who simply carries a minaudière on the red carpet.