Of all the handbags in the world, the clutch bag has experienced the most mixed reception. Fluctuating in popularity and regard thanks to its chic form and impractical size, the clutch has nonetheless remained a staple in the fashion world.
The hard-shelled clutch is very much in vogue right now, so I am reviewing the best designer hard clutch bags I came across whilst on a recent shopping trip to London. Harrods in particular have a brilliant selection of designer hard clutch bags.
Let’s face it, all clutches have their drawbacks. Both their small size and the need to hold it in your hand can be a pain. However, sometimes in life you have to make a small sacrifice to enjoy feeling both elegant and bang on trend!
Easy on the Clutch; Are Clutch Bags In Style?
First seen the 1920s in the jewelled pouch style bags of the Flapper girls, the pochette or envelop bag (which would later be called a clutch bag because of the way it is ‘clutched’ in the hand) went on to become incredibly popular in the 1930s.
While they have never fully gone out of fashion, these bags have come and gone over the years, with more recent spurts of popularity in the ’80s, ’90s, and early ’00s. As of late 2019, the clutch is back-in-business and can be seen in the hands of celebrities across the world. This time it is the hard-shell iteration which is most popular.
10 Best Designer Hard Clutch Bags
Here are 10 of the best designer hard clutch bags I encountered during a rather enjoyable afternoon in Harrods & Selfridges that really stood out. Each are unique, beautiful, and have a pedigree to match.
Highly regarded by fashion lovers around the world (as well as those in the industry), these designers have created bags which are so exquisite that they often sell out before the end of the season in which they launch. So should you fall in love with any listed here, you know that you really cannot go wrong!
1. Jimmy Choo Embellished Velvet Cloud Clutch
Synonymous with luxury and elegant sophistication, Jimmy Choo has been clothing fashionistas, runway models, and celebrities for decades;. This clutch bag, in all its understated glory, is a perfect representation of the Jimmy Choo ‘look’.
With a simple, dark velvet over its hard shell and a spine of flashing green and white embellishing spikes, crusted with jewels, to add edge, this is a truly breathtaking bag which sits at a dainty 11x15x6.5cm. Don’t worry, though, you can fit your phone and money in here easily.
The best thing about this is that it’s a bag that makes you feel like royalty. It’s delicate to the touch and you can’t help but sashay into a room with a bit more confidence when you have this on your arm.
2. Alexander McQueen Spider Crystal Clutch
Alexander McQueen has panache, even for a fashion designer, and so his products tend to operate on the very edge, breaking ground and setting trends
This stunning hard clutch bag is a prfect representation of his unique style. Ultra-feminine and glamorous, this sparkling, hardshell bag has an ornate spider clip and comes with a chain which can be used to loop it over your sand,
At 11x18x4cm in size, this is a compact bag, but can fit all the essentials in. Despite being quite plain, this bag simply screams for your attention due to it’s reflective properties. It has almost childlike in its zealousness… it’s like the bag you always told yourself you’d have when you grew up.
If you want to rock your glamazon vibe, this is the bag for you. When paired with a glittering dress and some skyscraper heels, or even as a statement piece to jazz up a simple cocktail dress, this a bag which simply cannot fail to impress.
3. LK Bennet Nina Suede Clutch
A brand of the ’90s, LK Bennet has an unusual knack for producing items which scream classic, British elegance and sophistication. This bag is no exception to that rule. The chic chrome and back suede finish offers contrast and a timeless monochromatic aesthetic while still feeling fresh and modern.
The simple, rectangular fastening mechanism is the cherry on the cake, relatively speaking and just brings the whole design together. A delightfully vintage piece with enough room for your phone and wallet (it’s 10x15x3.5cm in size), the Nina Clutch Bag should be a wardrobe staple.
You can’t help but channel a ’90s Kate Moss vibe when you take this bag out, but it is very plain so make sure that it’s not your statement piece; pair it with some flashy jewellery to make it pop.
4. Aspinal of London Embellished Trunk Clutch
Specialising in luxury leather goods, Aspinal of London is a quintessentially English brand that makes fun and quirky pieces that fuse femininity with businesslike power. This mini trunk clutch bag is just that; fun, flirty, and quirky with a severe, businesslike twist.
The gold, silver, and pink metal embellishments, along with the small metal handle and clasp make this a really cute little bag which can hold everything you need it to at 14.5×18.5x8cm in size.
This is a girly and fun bag which really has no competition anywhere. The Mini Trunk clutch has an air of early 2000s fun that can’t be ignored, so give it what it deserves and pair it with a skater dress and some retro converse.
5. St Xavier Sabrina Floral Clutch
Australian brand St Xavier has been a breath of fresh air since first bursting onto the scene; by fusing relaxed, stylised designs and patterns with more traditional fashion ‘norms’ they make eye-catching designs which balance boldness with fun and femininity.
The Sabrina Floral clutch is a perfect example of their unique ‘flavour’ with its embellished, beaded design and monochromatic scheme (broken up by flashes of colour). The round fastening mechanism throws off the symmetry just enough to make this a contemporary take on the classic beaded hard shell.
At 10x18x6cm this is a reasonably spacious bag that’s sure to make you feel a little more powerful as you go about your day to day life.
6. Sophia Webster Clara Crystal Box Clutch
Sophia Webster has an excellent track record and a star-studded fan list; her shoes are being worn by Sarah Jessica Parker and other celebrities, and so it should be no surprise that this clutch bag is in high demand.
The contrast of the sharp, rectangular bag with the glittering and spherical fastening mechanism is striking and glamorous. Better yet you can wear it over the shoulder by using its delicate chain. This is all the star-studded, sparkling glamour of the red carpet condensed into a single bag… what’s not to love?
With a silver, gold, and pink ombre options (as well as a classic black bag), this elegant clutch bag is the perfect accompaniment to any party outfit!
7. Bottega Veneta Intrecciato Knot Clutch
If you want to inject a bit of personality and colour into your outfit with a statement piece, Bottega Veneta is the perfect brand for you. So, it should come as no surprise to hear that the Intrecciato Knot Clutch Bag is just that; a statement piece.
The vibrant purple, textured surface of this hard-shelled bag is a sensual feast and the delicate, ornate fastening mechanism simply adds to its beauty. As a long, shallow bag, its perhaps not suited to carry a lot of goods, but it can handle most phones as well as cards, cash, and make-up essentials.
Managing to be both bold and classy, this is the perfect bag for people who want to make the world into a catwalk.
8. Dolce & Gabbana Floral Padlock Clutch
There is no brand which does over the top, feminine luxury like Dolce & Gabbana. The emphatic, Art Nouveau style that they employ is not only iconic but stunning and this clutch bag perhaps the pinnacle of this style.
The clash of gold, baby blue, dusty pink, and pale lilac is gorgeous, and the intricate structure of the bag itself screams classic luxury that is has a Versailles feel to it. At 11x19x5cm this is a delicate and dainty bag which can nonetheless hold everything essential.
If you want to go over-the-top and immerse yourself in the feminine side of yourself, this is the bag for you. This is the Fabergé Egg of the hard clutch bag world!
9. Judith Leiber Emerald Cut Crystal Clutch
There’s no-one who brings full-on glamour quite like Judith Leiber; flashing metal, sparkling gems, and classic colour schemes are her calling card, and her Cut Crystal Clutch is a truly perfect example of this aesthetic. With sharp angles, dull gold, and a crusting of emerald cut crystals to set it off.
This bag was definitely made to give you a classic movie star or pin-up girl feel. The delicate gold chain provided allows this bag to be carried over your shoulder as well as in hand. At 12.5x13x8cm, this is a larger clutch bag which is perfect for carrying your evening essentials in style.
Having this bag on hand is guaranteed to help you channel your inner Marilyn Monroe.
10. Ethan K Miaudiere Crocodile Clutch
As a designer, Ethan K has built a reputation of constantly surprising the world; unique textures, colours, and designs are… well, common for this designer, and the Miaudier Crocodile Clutch combines this to stunning effect.
The ombre of green and blue (or red and yellow) hard shell bag is lightly textured with a crocodile skin effect. The rounded corners and circular clip give it a vintage feel which complements rather than offsets the contemporary flavour of the design as a whole.
Think ’70s funk and boldness when you choose this bag and you won’t go far wrong!
Clutch Vs Purse
If you’re wondering what the difference between a ‘regular’ purse and a clutch bag is, then the answer is very simple; a clutch bag is a small, compact purse (generally the size of an A4 piece of paper) which is held in the hand or sometimes fastened to the wrist with a small strap.
A ‘regular’ purse, by contrast tends to be larger and has a thick shoulder or crossbody strap, and may even have interior compartments for organisation. It’s also less common for large purses to be hard-shelled as they can become impractical. Finally, a purse is not really ‘on-show’ glamour.
The Benefits of a Clutch Purse
There are many benefits to using a clutch purse, especially if you are an ardent fashion lover. It’s true that these are not the most practical of purses for day to day use, but writing them off for this reason is a big mistake; clutch bags were never intended for this purpose. It’s in the evening, at a nice dinner or party, that the clutch purse comes into its own.
The small size of clutch bags make them perfect for parties. By encouraging minimalism they enable you to bring the essentials while avoiding bogging yourself down with more than you need. This means you can focus on enjoying yourself.
Clutch bags are synonymous with elegance and glamour, and, as a result, even the simplest clutch can infuse your outfit with a sense of style and flair. In fact, whatever you want to say with your outfit, a clutch can emphasis that message.
While clutch bags are generally best for evening events and parties, they are versatile; if you like to travel light or you have a daytime lunch date, meeting, or event a light and bright clutch bag will set off your style with flair!
In fact, a clutch bag can serve for many occasions; everyone should have a gorgeous clutch in their wardrobe. All you need to do is find the right bag for you!
Everyone should have a clutch (or two) to hand for parties, events, and anything else that requires a little compact style and flair. The best designer hard clutch bags are freeing, in a way, because they are already so impractical for many parts of fay to day life, that you can put all other concerns to the side and simply choose the bag that you like best.
When it comes to a clutch bag you should stop thinking about carrying capacity, organisation, and all those other issues. Simply immerse yourself in the textures, colours, and styles to make sure that you get a bag that truly expresses who you are. Once you have that in mind, you’re sure to find a bag that makes you smile every time you look at it.
Before you go, I have put together a review of the most elegant designer handbags in a collection that I think you will enjoy.