Different Styles of Handbags to Start Your Collection With

Published May 21, 2018
Woman holding leather handbag

Handbags are a fashion staple that every modern woman should have in their closet. As well as making it easy for you to carry around your daily essentials, these accessories are ideal for dressing up or adding visual intrigue to an outfit. There are a variety of styles available for different occasions and style preferences.

Shoulder Bags

One of the most popular handbag options, the shoulder bag comes in a range of materials, designs, and hues. The holy grail of the shoulder handbag world is of the designer variety; these are usually flat and rectangular in shape, manufactured from high quality leather, and have dual handles. Think: Prada, Michael Kors, and Kate Spade.

Even though it's called a "shoulder" bag, many have both short handles and longer shoulder straps; often women just prefer to hold the handles of this fashion accessory or wear it on their arm for a casual, effortless look.

Woman with leather shoulder bag

Tote Bags

There are different styles of tote bags, and they can come in many prints and colors. Some, like shopping totes, are similar to shoulder bags but they are often larger and roomier for shopping purposes. The idea is to be able to fit a number of recently purchased items into this type of bag with ease. There are also other types, like executive styles, that are sleek but functional. A tote is almost always rectangular in shape, but sometimes the width of the bag is larger than the length or vice versa.

Woman with tote bag

Crossbody Bags

Crossbody bags are huge on the handbag scene because they make life easier. They allow you to have your hands free while you're on the go or have other items to carry. These bags got their name as they have a long strap that's designed to be worn across the body. Some women also perch this strap on their shoulder to enhance the high-fashion, thrown-together aspect of this accessory.

Woman wearing crossbody bag


Satchels are like crossbody bags but they are more specific in shape. Crossbody bags can be circular or square and have a zip or clasp fastening, whereas satchels are almost always rectangular in shape with an envelope flap and dual buckle fastening. These make great everyday handbags.

Furthermore, as well as having the long crossbody strap, satchels tend to have a singular, short strap along the top that makes it easy to grab in a hurry.

Red satchel with buckles

The Clutch

Clutch bags are perfect for nights on the town, date night, or more formal occasions. From beaded and boxy to soft and slouchy, there are plenty of options available to suit every budget and personal taste.

The only downside with clutch bags is the amount of space that they have for your important belongings. You might find that you can only take the bare minimum with you to your special event, like your keys, cards, and phone.

Close-up of woman holding gold clutch

The Bucket

Bucket bags earned their name from their unique silhouette. Typically, they are fastened with a drawstring around the top and have a long, crossbody strap. Sometimes they have a shorter strap in addition to this.

Whether you prefer the sturdy leather or cute embroidered versions, the bucket bag is a larger bag that tends to have plenty of storage for all your possessions, making it functional as well as fashionable.

Turquoise bucket handbag

Duffle Bags

Traditional duffle bags are practical and the perfect answer for busy moms, college students, or gym-goers. They tend to be large in size and boxy in shape so that they can fit a lot of items inside. However, barrel-shaped bags and mini duffles are popular fashion choices for everyday casualwear. They typically have two short handles and one long strap to wear it across your body for convenience.

In terms of materials, duffles tend to be made from waterproof canvas or nylon, which make them extremely easy to clean. For a more luxurious feel, you can opt for a leather duffle bag. Mini duffles and barrel bags can be done in fabric, leather, or other materials.

Woman with duffel bag

Hobo Bags

Hobo bags are essentially shoulder bags with a particular silhouette. They are well-known for their roomy practicality and chic aesthetic.

Typically, this kind of handbag is slouchy in a half-moon or trapezoid shape with a single handle and curved zip fastening. However, other variations that are more boxy, have two handles, and fasten with a press stud are also extremely common.

Blue hobo bag

Messenger Bags

Loved by men and women alike, messenger bags are designed to suit certain lifestyle demands. Whether you're a school student, a business professional, or an on-the-go mom, these handbags are slim yet roomy and usually contain many pockets to help keep you organized.

Messenger bags can be large or small in size depending on your personal requirements, are usually rectangular, and have a long strap so that they can be worn across the body for ease and comfort.

Woman holding blue messenger bag

Backpack Purses

Undeniably the most practical handbag option, a backpack purse is ideal for those who prefer hands-free handbag options. Backpack purses have two shoulder straps and are designed to be worn on the back, so they evenly distribute the weight of your everyday essentials to prevent shoulder or back injuries.

They may vary in size but are usually much smaller than a typical backpack. Though this is a more casual bag style, there has been a surge of stylish options in backpack purses, including designer looks.

Blue python leather backpack purse

Showcase Your Personality

Even though handbags are practical first and foremost, they can also used as a fashion accessory to finish off or add interest to an outfit. Don't be afraid to experiment with different options to find out what works for you in terms of your lifestyle needs, your personality, and the occasion.

Different Styles of Handbags to Start Your Collection With