Know Your Handbag Styles

A handbag is not just a handbag.. Hundreds of years of design by an innovative and creative legacy of creators from around the world have created a rich artistic and stylistic legacy of handbag designs. But sometimes it’s as much about function as it is about fashion. That’s why it’s important to know what different types of bags are available to you— and flesh out your wardrobe with a bag for every need.

The All-Around Satchel

Take an inventory of what you would conceivably want to take with you on your daily routine, then consider what would be practical. Whether the former outweighs the latter or vice versa, there’s bound to be a satchel that can match your commute (or the errands outside your home office).

The great thing about the satchel is how versatile it is. That means you can find a satchel scaled for your phone, your tablet, your laptop, or all three— and that makes it an ideal choice for an everyday-and-everything handbag. And thanks to the generally short snaps and envelope flap, they’re some of the most readily accessible handbags you can have in your collection. Satchels are the workhorse of the handbag family, and they lean towards more professional and neutral colors.

The Fashionable But Functional Bucket Bag

Despite the name, a bucket bag doesn’t necessarily look like a bucket. You can think of it as an upscale half-sibling of the satchel and the tote bag. In essence, they combine the best of both worlds without making many unnecessary sacrifices in the process. Since the bottom of these handbags is flat, they stand easily upright. And since they’re round or ovular, they offer you the best use and functionality of the available space.

Since bucket bags employ drawstrings, you should carefully consider the balance of accessibility and security. Seek out drawstrings that will hold firm but still open without requiring any unnecessary dexterity. And you should be able to find a bucket bag suited to you. Whether you want a handle or a strap for wearing your handbag cross-body, you can find a wide assortment of bucket bags in the appropriate style.

The Tote For Serious Shopping Trips

It’s not as structured as the bucket bag, but the tote generally offers a pretty equivalent amount of space— and that general lack of a hard bottom or more structured body means that it can fold into itself as well. A tote may be made from simple linen or be a more impressive bag made from fine leather. The simplicity is what defines the tote, not the quality or the price of the materials it’s made from.

That makes the tote a very versatile choice for use whenever you’re shopping. A more lightweight and basic cloth tote can be a fun and easy choice for going out to the grocery store, or you can drag out a high-class luxury tote for a weekend splurge shopping. Totes can be an equally valid choice for making a quick run out to the office. 

That said, totes often tend towards the more functional end of the spectrum, and they tend to lean more towards sturdy canvases and similarly rugged materials.

The Elegant Baguette For Keeping Things Clean

The late 1990s and early 2000s were all about the baguette. This little handbag could be worn close to the shoulder and held all the essentials without any unnecessary bulk. Celebrities like Paris Hilton and the Olsen Twins brought it to the forefront of the popular imagination as the bag of choice for women who only needed space in their handbag for their slender and seemingly inexhaustible credit cards.

The baguette employs a short strap that allows it to hang over the shoulder, but this is no crossbody handbag. The bag itself takes the shape of a loaf of bread (hence the baguette sobriquet). That short strap means it can also be effectively handled as a handbag rather than a bag worn over the shoulder too. 

The baguette handbag isn’t going to come close to holding all of your things, but it’s ideally suited for brunch out with friends or drinks with a colleague.

The Envelope Clutch For Formal Events

Trends come and go, but there are a few styles that have been in fashion for a long time and likely will for a long time to come. And one of those evergreen rules of handbag etiquette is that the envelope clutch is the standard for formal events. There’s a reason for that. As one of the smallest handbags around, the envelope clutch can’t hold a lot and is effectively little more than a wallet.

And since they don’t come with any straps, envelope clutches aren’t the most practical choice for your daily activities. Fortunately, that can be an advantage for those with larger handbag collections. 

You can just pop your envelope clutch directly into a larger handbag like a tote and let it work as your wallet. An envelope clutch by itself might not work great outside of formal gatherings, but you can get a lot more utility from it if you’re willing to get creative.

The Fashionable Duffle For Weekend Trips

There’s a reason why duffles are also often called “weekenders.” When we talk about duffles, we’re not suggesting a big boxy nylon Adidas bag— but the idea is the same when talking about a duffle handbag. Smaller than a traditional duffle bag but larger than most handbags, it’s just the right choice if you’re going on an overnight trip and just want an easy carry-on to take with you on the plane.

You probably won’t be wearing a duffle at the next high society event, but you might find yourself using it more than expected while out and about. A duffel handbag can double well as a bag for your workout clothes or spare outfits, and it can be combined well with other handbags so you can get the most out of your overnight trips.

At Least One Crossbody Bag

The one thing you’ll find in no short supply is the crossbody bag. They’re a general enough design that they support a variety of more specific types, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a handbag brand that doesn’t include a crossover bag in their catalog. And crossbody bags can cover the full range from bohemian to high society. And the simple black crossbody is— and will continue to be— iconic for a long time to come.

The Ruggedly-Styled Saddle Bag

The practical necessity of the saddle bag— to provide something that could weather a long ride but also provide easy accessibility to the rider— also makes it one of the funkiest and most utilitarian handbag styles around. These bags are almost always made from leather, and they exclusively sport crossover designs. If you’re going hiking or looking for a bag for your camera, a saddle bag will definitely get the job done. 

Considerations When Shopping For A handbag

There are a whole lot of different handbag styles, and some will obviously be better than others based on their utility or sense of style and your personal demands. You can’t have too many handbags, but you also don’t need too many handbags. 

That means think of the circumstances you find yourself in and seek out a collection of handbags that suit your demands. But apart from the design style, there are a number of considerations you should take into consideration when shopping for a handbag.

Picking The Colors

The main consideration when picking what colors you should have in your wardrobe is personal and easy. What suits your personal sense of style? The fortunate thing about handbags is that they provide you with enough flexibility to mix it up whenever you want. 

While brown, black, and similarly muted colors are going to be prevalent in most women’s wardrobes, it’s nice to mix things up with one or two brightly colored or vividly patterned handbags.

In fact, adding a splash of color can add a whole new sense of dynamism to your existing wardrobe. Just keep in mind that you want to find a complementary color to your main scheme. The contrast won’t come off as clashing as it might initially seem if you pick opposing hues, and the results will create a more distinct impression. In this respect, you can think of your handbag as an opportunity to add texture to your outfit.

Testing It Out

We’re not saying that if you see that perfect bag on clearance online, you shouldn’t go for it. But get an understanding of how a bag will feel before you pull out your card. If you’re interested in a style that you haven’t worn before, pick out something to try it on in-store. Even if it’s not the bag you want, it can give it a sense of how it will feel.

Just as importantly, consider the purpose of each handbag. What you bring to the beach and what you bring to the office are probably going to be very different, and you need to take into consideration what your practical needs are. It can be fun to splurge on a handbag you’ll only wear once, but don’t shy away from filling out your wardrobe with handbags you’ll find yourself needing with more regularity.

Evaluating Storage Options

If you’re looking for something to take to a midnight gala, a clutch—especially an envelope clutch—is the perfect choice. That’s not the case for most people’s day-to-day affairs. Does it have pockets? How is it secured? Will it protect what’s inside if you need to run through a downpour? Handbags are about more than just style, and you should keep an eye towards functionality even when investing in a fashion-forward piece.

Bags can be used to perk up a variety of different outfits, or they can become the centerpiece for a whole new look. They can be fashionable utility pieces designed to bolster your professionalism or delicate fashion statements with the intent of showing off your sense of glamor. But whatever bags you get, they should be about reflecting your own personal style.