This season your evening bag may not be a bag at all - it may be an evening box, basket, envelope or tiny pouch. There are lots of different shapes and textures in luxury fabrics like silks, satin, bronze mesh or sterling silver or something equally elegant in carved wood or a lacquered basket on a silken cord.

Evening bags are not meant to hold five eye-shadows, an extra pair of shoes and a paperback copy of "Passages." They are only for the essential things you can't survive without during an evening out - like your keys, lipstick and some spare change.

Find one that feels comfortable to clutch in your hand or sling across your shoulder, because if you're in a crowded disco, you may not want to leave it at your table (if you have one) when you hit the dance floor CAPTION: Picture 1, Barbara Bolen's sleek ivory-colored minaudiere.At Dolly Kay, $130. Antique silk clutch, all handmade by a Japanese lady who only makes two bags a day, $32 at Ragtime Co. in Rockville.; Picture 2, Rafael Sanchez's slide top wooden clutch hand-carved in the Philippines. Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, $210.; Picture 3, Tortoise-shell look evening bag from The Complement. Made in Italy, $50.; Picture 4, Gold mesh bannana-shaped shoulder pouch slung over shoulder. Bloomingdales, $56.; Picture 5, Small shoulder bag that comes in metallic colors. Saks Fifth Avenue, $23.; Picture 6, 19-century antique sterling silver soap box big enough just for your essentials for the evening. Dolly Kay, $130., Illustration by Martha Vaughan for The Washington Post