Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend forgot about the true sidekick in our wardrobe—the handbag. They come in clutch when we need to store our essentials on the go. Snacks, phone chargers, keys, cash and more, a woman’s purse will get the job done. Even better, there are so many different types of bags to choose from. Each serves a unique purpose and can assist you in slaying an outfit.
From crossbodies and carryalls to satchels and shoulder bags, who can keep track of the differences? That’s where we come in with a simplified style guide with our top 12 core categories. Whether you need a functional backpack or a new seasonal accessory, take your pick. Keep scrolling to find which style (or styles) may be right for you.
1. Backpack: The Most Hands-Free Bag
Also known as book bags or rucksacks, backpacks are universally useful. They come in all sizes with two shoulder straps, allowing you to wear them on your back. Additionally, you have the pick from a wide variety of fabrics. From waterproof nylon and casual canvas to premium leather, there’s a backpack out there made just for you. Calling all moms, students and adventure-seekers, this one is for you. Need a bag that allows for hands-free movement but will stash all of your must-haves? A backpack will do just that. They often feature multiple compartments suited for notebooks, extra diapers and water bottles—you name it, they can carry it. If you are a minimalist with a well-built capsule wardrobe, seek out a backpack with a long strap. This gives you the opportunity to change up the way you wear your bag while adding miles to your styles.
Style Tip: Have a backpack in need of a bath? There are many do’s and don’ts when washing a backpack, whether you wash by hand or by machine. The most important tip is that it should never ever go into the dryer. Trust us.
2. Basket and Macramé Bags for Year-Round Fun
Picture this: it’s the first day of summer. The sun is shining, and you’re looking for a purse to store your bikini, sunscreen and beach towel. Look no further than a basket or macramé style. A basket bag has cane, rattan or wicker weavings that create a sturdy and structured shape that screams vacation-ready. On the other hand, a macramé bag has knotted cords or string in decorative patterns, creating holes in various sizes. Both of these types of bags prevent sand from getting stuck in crevices, making them ideal beach buddies.
Ladies, it might surprise you to learn that these roomy receptacles are, in fact, seasonless. Basket bags add texture and dimension to nonchalant, bohemian-esque outfits no matter which month of the year. Dreaming of an idyllic cottagecore accessory to complete your picture-perfect apple picking ensemble? In true cottagecore fashion, craft your very own macramé bag to aid in your homesteading endeavors.
3. Belt and Sling Bags: Fitness-Friendly Types of Bags
Do you enjoy jogging around your neighborhood or the occasional bike ride across town? Belt and sling bags are handy bags for carrying minimal items like a house key or gym pass. Belt bags, AKA fanny packs, are compact with an attached belt that allows you to fasten it around your waist. Sling bags are similar in design, yet you sling them over the shoulder or secure them diagonally across the chest. Sport either one for your next fitness-oriented outing, and no doubt their practicality and trend-forward flair will impress you. Buckle up and be on your way to exercising in style.
4. Bucket Bags: Types of Bags That Stand the Test of Time
A bucket bag is a type of handbag with a round, flat base and drawstring closure with long or short straps. These purses have a rich sartorial history, although the true origin is a bit of a mystery. What we do know is that they’ll continue to be a mainstay in fashion designer’s collections well into the future. After all, they make top trends lists time and time again, including women’s spring 2022 fashion trends.
Fun Fact: Louis Vuitton produced an early modern design in 1939 with the intended purpose of fitting five champagne bottles. Attending a dinner party? A bucket bag will effortlessly house a gift for your gracious host.
5. Curious Which Types of Bags are Party-Worthy? Clutches All the Way
Elegant, sleek and so chic, clutches are the bag that’s suitable for any soirée. They’ll complement your garden party attire, semi-formal wedding ensembles and more. The word clutch comes from the fact that you literally clutch the purse in your hand as a means of carrying it. It’s the ultimate handbag. See what we did there? They come in traditionally small to medium sizes and most often without straps or handles. It’s common to wear these types of purses as evening accessories, but don’t be afraid to break the rules. Keep it low-key by choosing a clutch made from casual materials like cotton, linen or chambray. Going glam? These types of handbags do it all. A sequin encrusted clutch will add the right touch of sparkle to a floor-grazing ball gown. Or, reach for a subdued nude hue that allows your dress to shine.
6. Function Meets Fashion With This Type of Bag: The Crossbody
Another hands-free favorite is the crossbody. You can wear many types of bags across the body or have the option to do so. Most commonly, crossbodies are small to medium in size. They have a single long strap allowing the bag to lie at the hip. Closures can vary from securing at the top or front with a zipper, clasp or buckle. With one or more compartments inside, you can organize your items effortlessly. These types of purses reign supreme for everyday use with enough room for stashing a cardholder, phone and other most-used essentials. We love how inclusive they are. A crossbody bag with an adjustable strap means they fit virtually everybody and every body. If you’re looking to invest in a single handbag style—ding, ding, ding—we have a winner.
7. Duffel Bags for the Weekend Warrior
For ladies that love to jet set, consider a duffel bag as your next travel companion. These types of bags are tip-top for wanderlust enthusiasts. Duffels are spacious and durable, with an elongated body and rounded sides. They often have two handheld straps and one long adjustable strap for over the shoulder or across the body. Say yes to duffel bags as a carry-on. Capable of transporting a large number of items, stuff your duffle to the brim without worrying about overpacking.
Moreover, military personnel use them for their sturdiness and ability to hold heavy objects, making them stellar gym bags. Many styles feature a bottom compartment that allows you to keep your used tennis shoes separate from everything else. Confidently carry your free weights and other bulky gear from CrossFit. Or, toss your yoga mat and water bottle into your trusty duffle bag and complete your go-to yoga ensemble.
8. Saddlebag: The All-American Type of Bag
If you’re eager to emulate the Americana aesthetic, a summer 2022 trend, a saddlebag is the way to go. These types of handbags have a rounded flap that folds over in the front with a crossbody silhouette. Inspired by horse’s saddlebags, their original purpose was to encase a few basic necessities while riding horseback. Nowadays, they’re more of a fashion statement for women sans the majestic, four-legged animal.
To create that all-American getup, partner these types of bags with classic denim and a graphic T-shirt. Bonus points if you rock one with slight wear and tear from frequent road trips on Route 66. Top off the look with cowboy boots and a fat-brimmed hat for a dash of howdy to your appearance. Stash your aviator sunglasses in your saddlebag as the sun finally sets on the open road.
9. Satchel: The Most Classic Type of Bag
When we think of a quintessential handbag, a satchel comes to mind. They’re ultra-versatile types of bags with the option to wear them in multiple ways. For instance, they have a feminine appeal when you wear the short handles delicately at the crook of your elbow. These types of purses also have the crossbody functionality for easier toting. From micro mini to oversized, satchels come in an assortment of sizes with a traditional purpose for carrying books. Still a solid choice for wearing from class to class, satchels are truly ideal for everyday use.
For a contemporary twist, pair an all-white leather satchel with a satin midi skirt and a tee or tank. Layer with an oversized boyfriend blazer and bring the look together with platform fashion sneakers. A fun way to add personality to your outfit is by adding a charm or silk scarf to your bag. Many satchels allow you to attach your own straps like a chunky metal chain to channel your inner edgy fashionista.
10. Shoulder Bags are Über-Nostalgic Types of Bags
Queue the time machine because the 90s fashion it-bag is taking center stage once again. Shoulder bags are a general term for types of bags you wear over the shoulder with one or two straps. However, there are many iterations, including the iconic baguette bags of the nineties. Like their namesake, a French loaf of bread, baguette handbags tuck neatly under the armpit. Fast forward 30 years, and we are welcoming these bags back into our closets with open arm(pits).
The baguette bag is not your ordinary accessory. Their compact nature is meant to elicit a sense of luxury since they’re more fashionable than they are functional. Nevertheless, they’re perfect for impromptu appetizers at a swanky bar or an upscale art gallery in the city. Let’s be real though, attending these fancy events is not a requirement to pull off a baguette bag. Choose one in a croc-embossed pattern or go bold with a bright patent orange or purple sequins. Somewhere Carrie Bradshaw is twirling in a tutu dress and clapping her hands in approval.
11. Tote Bags are Totally Reliable for Commuting, Shopping and More
Are you a gal who carries everything but the kitchen sink in your purse? You might need that disposable poncho in case you’re caught in a rainstorm in the desert. We get it. If that resonates with your personality, then a tote may just be the best type of bag for you. They’re large and rectangular with an open top and sometimes include a clasp or zipper closure. Tote bags are prime picks for shopping sprees with their ample storage space and ease of carry. For commuters and bustling city dwellers, they can hold anything from comfortable walking shoes to a change of work clothes. Many totes contain laptop compartments, making them an ideal choice for office life.
Style Tip: For our environmentally conscious queens, skip the plastic bags at the grocery store. Instead, bring your own reusable canvas tote bags for all your bodega needs. Mother Nature will thank you for investing in your sustainable wardrobe.
12. Wristlets: Tiny, but Mighty Types of Bags
Last but certainly not least, the wristlet. These types of purses are about the size of a large wallet but hold more than cash and credit cards. Wristlets are zippered pouches with a short strap that you can wear like a bracelet. When is it useful to wear these types of bags, you ask? For nights on the town, wristlets will stay secure on your arm while you hit the dance floor. No worries about losing it among the shuffle of the crowd. Alternatively, their condensed proportions make it a cinch to toss into a larger bag. Only pull them out to run a quick errand into the store or to recharge your car. All in all, it’s a small handbag with major potential.
Now that you’re well-schooled in the various types of handbags, is it time for a new one? If so, take your style quiz and let an expert stylist send five styles straight to your doorstep. Once they arrive, enjoy an at-home fashion show to see which bags most complement your closet. Keep what you love and send back the rest. Shipping and returns are always on us.