It’s a slippery slope with designer handbags bags as becoming a hoarder is all too easy. Whether it’s an eye-popping cherry red clutch, a classic black shoulder, or an eccentric mixed textile tote, it’s all too easy to find a stunning bag.
The hard part is finding the right handbag type that’s perfect for a particular function, season or social event. After all, there’s no point in spending good money on a new designer bag if you are going to get little use out of it. Choosing from the most popular designer handbag types makes a lot of sense.
So don’t fall into the trap of only using your heart and not your head, as you may end up with a closet full of bags that you rarely use. Instead, choose your next bag from one of these upcoming 20 most popular designer handbag types.
20 Most Popular Designer Handbag Types
To the untrained eye, many handbags look the same, but there are actually a host of styles, distinctive structures, and shapes that define the type of bag. No need to be a handbag expert, here are the 20 most popular designer handbag types on the market right now.
Shoulder bags are the iconic, everyday bag that every girl should own. These are perfect for blending fashion and function and have straps long enough to sit over your shoulder or in the crook of your elbow.
The shoulder is the most common bag type by far, and come in a variety of materials, structures, colours, and designs. Depending on the designer you choose, one can be found in every budget range. This is a multi-function piece that can start as a workday bag and transition easily to a casual dinner or cocktail evening.
Sometimes called shopper bags, totes are perfect for traveling, commuting, shopping, or simply on-the-go. If you need to bring along a collection of necessities, for example, a towel and suncream for the beach or guide books and bottles of water in a city, a tote will let you do so in style.
Tote bags are almost always square or rectangular and tend to have open tops which makes them great workhorses. You may find their open top design no so ideal if you have valuables to carry, but I feel this style is so useful and versatile.
The ultimate everyday bag for those who like to go handsfree. The crossbody bag has a long strap that goes over the shoulder and range from small & delicate to oversized. Primarily designed for convenience these are perfect for events like concerts and festivals because they keep your valuables safe without needing constant attention. They’re not always overly dressy, but a chain handle can give them some additional glitz.
Satchel bags are wide and flat with double handles short enough to be carried in your hand. This is a classic and professional style which is reminiscent of old-fashioned doctors bags while still being feminine. These structured handbags are great for everyday use and can be carried in the crook of the elbow when needed, although often come with a strap that sits over the shoulder.
The ultimate classy evening bag, a clutch is very much form over function. Generally wallet-sized, but no bigger than an A4 piece of paper. As a rule these bags are often made of delicate or unusual fabric such as satin and can be heavily embellished with sequins, beads, or embroidery. Designed to be ‘clutched’ under the arm or in the hand, these are not the most practical, but they complement evening wear perfectly.
Unstructured and casual, bucket bags are good for weekends and summer days, the simple, drawstring closing mechanism makes them fuss-free while keeping valuables safe and the straps tend to be long enough to wear over the shoulder. Most of these bags are made of fabric at the moment, but many fashion houses offer durable leather alternatives which will stand the test of time.
7. Duffle (or Barrel)
Often a similar shape as bowling or barrel bags, the duffel tends to be made of durable material which compensates for their lack of a rigid structure. More often than not they have shorter handles as well as long handles which can be worn over the shoulder.
Some even have very long handles which can be worn crossbody. While they vary in style, most duffle bags are not suited to fine dining or evening wear. I feel they are best placed as weekend bags or casually chic travel bags.
The slouchy, relaxed style of hobo bags makes them perfect for casual weekends and evenings on the town. The loose shape is flattering and dynamic, and the long straps allow for these bags to be worn over the shoulder. Giving a youthful and chilled vibe, they add a touch casual style to any situation.
A leather hobo bag will retain some structure, depending on the thickness of the leather, whereas fabric hobo bags are the ultimate unstructured, boho-chic accessory.
Worn on the back, over both shoulders, the designer backpack is the opposite of types such as the clutch. They focus on prioritising function over form but nonetheless can still retain a more delicate and chic look when compared to standard backpacks.
With larger carrying capacities they can range from highly structured leather backpacks to light and breezy fabric backpacks. In either case, these are more casual bags best suited to traveling, weekends away, or carrying college materials. The perfect designer backpack will be both effective and timeless.
10. Bowling Bag
Generally rectangular, oval, or angled, bowling style bags are very rigid, structured backs which have zip or clasp fastening mechanisms. Generally made of leather, these bags tend to have short handles suited to being held in the hand, or being hooked over the elbow.
This style is very much in fashion right now as the chic leather designs are timeless. Your valuables are safe in this bag from prying eyes. Coming in a range of sizes, these are versatile bags which are suited to evenings on the town as well as day to day use. An excellent all-rounder.
A twist on the baguette bag, the saddlebag style has been pioneered by Dior and is very much on-trend right now. Small and structured, with short straps designed to either loop over the elbow, or tuck the bag tightly under the arm, saddlebag style bags are, as you might expect, shaped to mimic the side of a horse saddle.
This Avante Garde style is whimsical enough to transition from day to night and will definitely turn heads. While they are often made of leather, hard-shell versions covered with padded satin are more striking and making a comeback.
A larger, deeper version of the traditional clutch bag, the envelope bag is a hard-shell bag which is perfect for carrying all your creature comforts in style. Unlike clutch bags, these almost always come with long straps (usually chains) for looping over your shoulder which makes them a stylish and convenient evening bag for most events. While they may not be perfect for your day job, they make an excellent choice for a night at the theatre or dinner in the City.
These waist cinched bags are quickly becoming a modern classic. Once the domain of dads and tourists, they have become designer-chic thanks to the security, convenience, and excellent carrying capacity that they offer. Perfect for keeping you on-trend, and your essentials to hand while on the move.
A deeper, square-shaped sister to the iconic baguette bag, flapbags are characterised by the overlapping material which acts as the closing mechanism. Almost always shoulder bags, they tend to be made of leather or other durable materials and usually have a strong structure. This makes them the perfect small daytime bag, or large evening bag.
As these bags don’t seem to be currently in-vogue, the styles available tend to be limited. Don’t let that put you off as they make great investment bags as they are durable, chic and desirable enough to stand the test of time.
A small, rectangular bag which was most popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, the baguette bag is making a comeback and its cuter than ever. The compact, structured design is perfect for carrying essentials safely.
These bags sit perfectly between the large shoulder bag and the small clutch, and their straps are long enough to loop over the shoulder making them a fantastic day to evening transitional bag for those who like to go out after work.
The Bauletto bag is a unique and chic example of how a style can be seamlessly casual and classy at once. With a rigid shell, usually made of leather or suede, and one short handle designed to be looped over the elbow. These irreverent, French-inspired bags tend to come in popping colours with unique and artsy embellishments. Most effective for casual dinners or intimate parties, they also make excellent small daytime bags.
Wristlet and wallet style bags tend to be larger than clutches, and a simple strap which is big enough to loop around the wrist (generally found on one corner of the bag). They are big enough to carry the essentials (cash, cards, lipstick, and phone) and look best when not overfilled.
Coming in a range of colours, materials, and levels of embellishment they are both dynamic and functional. Perfect for dinner dates and evenings on the town.
Around since the early 20th century (indeed before), the pouch bag is one of the few handbags that can really claim to be a jack-of-all-trades. While they are often made of fine materials like satin, the shape gives them superior carrying capacity and is just relaxed enough to make an irreverent, eye-catching day bag. Some may come with long straps for placing on the shoulder, but most will have wrist straps or be designed to be clutched.
Add one of these beauties to your collection and you will certainly look forward to any fancy events in your calendar. A hard shell, heavily embellished clutch style bag, the minaudiere is a specialised but undeniably beautiful type of handbag that was most popular in the 1920s. These handbags tend to be entirely encrusted with coloured stones, gems, pearls, or metal studs and ooze glamour.
They often have intricate chains which can be looped over the shoulder or hard handles which also act as clasps. An elegant and striking choice for a special evening dinner, extravagant ball, or other such event.
A new design that mirrors the backpack very closely, the sling bag has only one strap but is designed to be worn on the back nonetheless. The benefits of this type of bag are many but primarily rely on its balance of size and convenience.
Easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces (unlike a backpack), but big enough to carry overnight items (unlike a fannypack or bumbag) they are understandably popular with men and women. Sling bags come in a range of hardy materials and are perfect for short travels and day trips.
Choosing The Right Handbag Type
Hopefully by now you already feel more confident after reading our handy list of the 20 most common handbag types in use right now. Let’s quickly recap on what you should be considering when looking for your perfect handbag.
Everyone should have one party bag, one work bag, and one ‘investment’ handbag… or that’s what style experts say, at least. You should consider if the design type of the bag matches the function, season or event you want it for.
Clutch bags may be cute, but they make poor workday handbags. Likewise, a tote is great for carrying essentials on vacation but may end up getting in the way at a dinner party. Choosing the right type of bag is key to getting both the look & functionality you desire.
Common sense would state that choosing neutral colours is the best choice (especially for your work or everyday bag), but really the only thing you need to do is choose a colour that suits your style. If you wear a variety of bright colours a black, grey or beige bag may be the best choice. If, however, you are a huge fan of pink, orange, or any other bright colour, you should choose the colour that best suits your style.
While a range of fabrics and textiles can be fun leather should be top of the pile when you’re looking for everyday handbags or investment bags that you want to last a long time. Unlike many other materials, leather actually gets better as it ages, so you can expect your bag to keep up with you.
Soft, unstructured bags can give off a ore casual vibe, however bags that are sure to see heavy use are better with a strong and more resilient structure. Ensure you select the best structure for your bags perceived use.
Many designer handbags come with beautiful embellishments and decorations that really make them pop. If you’re looking for a statement bag, or you want a fancy purse for an event these can be showstopping choices. If you want a staple bag fit for the rigors of life, perhaps less is more.
There is so much choice, at the moment, that finding a bag which does what you need it to do while still looking fabulous should be no trouble at all. Likewise, the recent boom of pre-loved designer handbags means that getting a quality designer handbag within budget is no longer a pipe dream.
Whether you want an evening bag or a day to day shoulder bag for work, you should view a designer handbag as an investment. If you choose the right designer, type and style you will find that your bag stays chic for years, or even decades, to come.
With that said, however, fashion is meant to be fun and an expression of who you are and what you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on something new, even if it seems impractical. You should get joy out of a designer handbag. Don’t let any ‘rules’ keep you away from something that you love.
Before you go, I have also put together a review of what I feel are some of the most elegant designer handbags that I think you will enjoy.
Discover Your Perfect Designer Handbag
Please take a moment to browse through my hand-picked collection of elegant designer handbags.
There may just be the perfect bag waiting there for you!