Here it is.
Our epic list of the different types of handbags. You may not want or need all of them, but it sure helps to get an idea as to your options. Enjoy.
Table of Contents
- 1. Backpack Purse
- 2. Baguette Bag
- 3. Barrel Bag
- 4. Basket Bag
- 5. Bowling Bag
- 6. Bucket Bag
- 7. Crossbody Bag
- 8. Clutch
- 9. Doctor’s Bag
- 10. Duffle Bag
- 11. Envelope Clutch
- 12. Frame Bag
- 13. Folder Purse
- 14. Hobo Bag
- 15. Messenger Bag
- 16. Minaudiere
- 17. Muff
- 18. Pouch Bag
- 19. Quilted Bag
- 20. Saddlebag
- 21. Satchel
- 22. Shoulder Bag
- 23. Sling Bag
- 24. Tote Bag
- 25. Wristlet
1. Backpack Purse
As the name suggests, this is little more than a smallish backpack. Due to the fact that it is one of the larger handbags on our list, this is definitely a casual-only kind of bag. Still, few backpack purses are large enough to actually be used as a standard backpack. That said, there are a number of high-end designers who seem interested in challenging the idea that large and loose is meant for casual wear. At the same time, this a fairly common choice for athletic wear as well due to the convenience and size.
2. Baguette Bag
The Baguette takes its name after the French bread for which it resembles. The baguette bag is a fairly small handbag with one or two short straps which makes it a great to wear with dressier clothing. That said, the baguette bag is still often a bit too large to be worn to a formal affair and is often paired with a smart pantsuit or a more eclectic style. It was first popularized by Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City where it became one of the first “it” bags.
3. Barrel Bag
The barrel bag and the baguette bag are often confused for one another, though the baguette bag is meant to lay flat. The barrel bag is obviously cylindrical in shape and is also generally a bit larger than a baguette bag–though it also comes in larger sizes. This bag will also often have slightly longer straps to allow for a better drop and to accommodate the occasional foray into the medium size category. This bag can be dressy or casual depending on the specific design and size.
4. Basket Bag
Handbags might be the most perfect accessory, but the industry sees little reason in being creative with their names. In this instance, the basket bag often looks like a basket with a firm bottom and sides that can stand up on their own. These bags will regularly be a bit on the larger side, but their crisp lines allow them to be worn with a wide variety of different clothing styles. All the same, the basket bag is best suited for a slightly more casual look, though the setting and size can give you some leeway to experiment.
5. Bowling Bag
This time there is no similarity that the namesake draws from as these are often quite literally bowling bags with a fashion sense. These are some of the larger handbags on the market, though fashionistas love to use this bag for an eclectic approach. This handbag can be found used for casual wear primarily, but there are numerous instances of celebrities toting this kind of bag in a dress casual look. This bag has short handles but often features a shoulder strap as well. The distinctive dome shape will also help identify this bag’s silhouette.
6. Bucket Bag
The bucket bag is fairly similar to the basket bag except its base is generally round instead of rectangular. On top of that, the bucket bag is more often taller than it is broad, but the sides are not as firm as with other self-standing bags. The bucket bag is also known for a drawstring closure as well as a longer strap with short handles. In this way, it is a bit like a cross between a bowling bag and a basket bag. Generally, this bag is worn with casual wear–especially with a Bohemian look.
7. Crossbody Bag
This is less of a specific type of bag and more the way that a given design’s strap is handled. Basically, crossbody bags often feature some of the longest straps out of all handbag types, because they are meant to hang across the body on the shoulder. That said, smaller versions of this bag are often worn on the shoulder so the extreme drop can provide a great balance. Depending on the specific design, this bag can be worn with anything from casual wear to a short, slimming dress.
There are few handbags that are as distinctive as the clutch nor as versatile. The clutch is also one of the few handbags that are often designed without a strap, forcing the wearer to hold the bag in their hands–hence the name. While this handbag can be worn with casual and dress wear, it is most commonly known for formal wear where it can serve as a delicate and feminizing accent to an often elegant look. A fair bit of this is due to the slim silhouette that features a flat, folded design.
9. Doctor’s Bag
Yet again we have a handbag that is taken directly from a more practical bag and adapted for fashion purposes. These are often some of the largest bags around and will even challenge the backpack bag or the saddle bag for the largest size. This bag generally features short handles and a firm bottom that allows the bag to stand upright. The rigid frame and metal clasp closure often allow this larger bag to work with dressier looks.
10. Duffle Bag
Most people know what a duffle bag is, and the handbag version is generally just a smaller version of that. The duffle bag generally has flat size with rounded ends and a longer strap to balance out its roomier capacity. While the most common type of duffle bag is larger, making it better suited for casual and athletic wear, there are some smaller silhouettes available as well. Still, this is rarely a bag you wear with a dressy outfit.
11. Envelope Clutch
If the clutch is the classic formal handbag, the envelope clutch raises those stakes even higher. That said, while the standard clutch can work with a wide range of styles, the envelope clutch is generally reserved for formal wear or dressier outfits. Like the standard namesake, the envelope clutch is small and lays flat. This handbag does not feature a strap or handles and must be held. It is also one of the smallest handbags you can find.
12. Frame Bag
The frame bag is another that has recently fallen out of favor, but its unique silhouette all but guarantees that fashion will bring it back before too long. This is a medium-sized bag that features a firm bottom and stiffer sides allowing it to stand upright. The frame bag’s trapezoidal shape is somewhat unique and provides straight lines to provide for both business and casual wear. This is another bag that often eschews the shoulder strap for a smarter, handled design.
13. Folder Purse
The folder purse is not quite so popular anymore as most women opt for a larger bag when they actually need to carry around things like paperwork. That said, this is not an especially large bag, often running in the middle sizes. However, to ensure the integrity of their important documents, these bags can usually stand upright, feature stiffer sides, and a longer strap to prevent the bag from bunching up. It should go without saying that this bag is best suited for business wear.
14. Hobo Bag
This bag rose to prominence in the mid-2010s and shows no signs of slowing down. The slouchy silhouette of this bag is great for casual wear and shoes up most prominently with the Bohemian style. Hobo bags will occasionally be designed to stand upright and regularly eschew the strap for handles with a longer drop. This is often a larger bag that will be made of softer materials but feature other accents and has a crescent shape.
15. Messenger Bag
This is actually one of the few handbags that is appreciated by both men and women, though the two genders’ messenger bags will often differ a bit. Specifically, women’s messenger bags have a tendency to be on the smaller side. On top of that, these bags usually have a foldover top that is closed with a clasp. This bag will also generally have a fairly long strap that allows it to be worn as a crossbody bag. This bag can be both casual or business, but it is rarely suitable for formal wear.
This is technically not a “bag” and is instead a case as noted by the hinged design. Regardless, the minaudiere is meant to make a statement, especially at formal occasions. Often about the size of a clutch or even envelope clutch, the minaudiere will feature stiff sides that are usually embellished with some kind of glittering accent. On occasion, this type of bag will come with a strap that is long enough to provide an elegant drop.
This is actually a somewhat recent development in the handbag industry and is really just a pair of hand-muffs with a bag in them. Due to the functional design of this handbag, muffs are pretty much exclusively worn with cold-weather clothing. That said, muffs have a tendency to be made of high-quality materials and as such are a bit dressier than casual. Of course, there are still plenty of exceptions to that rule–especially if you go bargain hunting.
18. Pouch Bag
The pouch bag is literally just a pouch that features either a drawstring closure or occasionally a zipper. This is one of the smallest types of bags available and will rarely hold more than a smartphone and a few cards. The drawstring will often serve the same function as a wristlet bag’s does, though the pouch bag is often a bit smaller. This bag does not really have a dress code associated with it and will be dependent on the accents and design.
19. Quilted Bag
This is another handbag that is not actually its own type but more refers to a style that numerous handbags can use. Hobo bags and envelope clutches are the most common silhouettes that will use the quilted technique. This is because quilted bags are inherently slouchy and cannot stand upright on their own without some reinforcement. A quilted bag will also adopt the features of whatever type of handbag silhouette it uses. That said, the quilted technique generally prevents this from being suitable for anything beyond dress casual.
The saddlebag handbag takes its namesake from the fact that it is based on the traditional saddlebags used before automobiles. These bags are usually fairly large and have more capacity than most. The saddlebag is also the handbag least likely to be made from fabrics and favors leather instead. This bag has a top that folds over and closes with a clasp like a messenger bag. Saddlebags have a softer, rounded bottom with a long strap that allows this bag to be worn crossbody. Needless to say, this is almost strictly a casual bag.
The satchel is pretty much the quintessential business bag and resembles a cross between a messenger bag and a saddlebag. The Satchel will feature a flat bottom with stiff sides that allow it to stand upright, though it generally is not one of the larger bags. On top of that, the satchel has the foldover top with a clasp closure that both saddlebags and messenger bags favor. Finally, it also comes with a long strap to wear crossbody but also has a handle for versatility.
22. Shoulder Bag
Much like the crossbody bag, a shoulder bag is not actually its own type and instead refers to any kind of handbag designed to be worn on the shoulder. Shoulder bags can come in a wide variety of silhouettes, though it has a tendency to favor medium and large-sized handbag silhouettes. The strap of a shoulder bag can be long or short, but they will rarely be long enough to be worn crossbody. The suitable outfit and style will depend on the type, though business wear is about as dressy as these bags go.
23. Sling Bag
The sling bag is often referred to as a phone bag these days and can take on a number of different silhouettes. Regardless, the sling bag will have a long strap to allow either crossbody or on the shoulder wear. This bag is easily one of the smallest bags as it can rarely hold more than a phone and a few cards. That said, sling bags can be made to work with pretty much any style of outfit and offers a great feminizing touch of elegance.
24. Tote Bag
Often called shopping or beach bags, this is generally one of, if not, the largest type of handbags and rarely will you find one that is smaller than medium-sized. The bottom of this bag will sit flat on the ground with the sides rising high–though the sides need not be stiff. This type of bag will generally use a set of longer handles allowing it to be carried by hand or on the shoulder. The size of this bag generally relegates it to more casual wear, but it does often provide the largest average capacity.
This may or may not be its own kind of handbag depending on who you ask. The wristlet is generally some kind of clutch design that comes with a short strap meant to be worn around the wrist. More often than not, the wristlet will favor the smaller envelope clutch silhouette. Of course, this wrist strap is just as often not simply an accent and not necessarily used unless you are also not wearing any bracelets or other accessories on your wrists.