In the "I want it, I got it" era, fast fashion has reigned as the viable solution for fashion-forward thinkers to debut the trendiest looks without making major financial sacrifices. However, the extended time at home in 2020 led shoppers to take a hard look at their closets and readdress both their own tastes and the origins of their clothes.
From jackets to jeans, the tell-tale signs of inferior quality quickly turn polished looks into frayed, misshapen messes. As a result, it seems like more and more shoppers are willing to spend their money on pricier pieces that are made to last. The investment piece is in — and a handbag is no exception to this trend.
However, a good handbag is often taken for granted. It's the backbone of your ensemble, tying your look together and keeping your most essential and valuable possessions safe wherever you go. Whether you're reaching for a simple, classic clutch for date night or grocery shopping with your favorite tote, accessorizing your outfit with the perfect bag will add new levels of subtle sophistication and uniformity.
Choosing the right bag for every occasion comes down to size, design and convenience. This guide to different types of handbags shows you what makes each design unique and how to incorporate these styles into your everyday use — whether you're heading back to the office or enjoying a relaxing staycation.
Now, let's talk bags.
Types of Women's Bags
Let it be said that no handbag style is superior to another. Every purse has its place, and when applied appropriately, the simplest designs can add layers of depth and intrigue. From the Accordion to the Top Handle, here's your lesson in the basics of the different types of women's bags.
The Accordion Bag
As a reference to its namesake, the accordion bag features a functional design that can expand or retract based on what you need to use it for that day. The extra fabric is located on the sides of the bag, allowing the purse to expand to hold more items or fold inward to reduce its size when you're carrying less.
The accordion bag is perfect for an overnight trip or a long day spent away from home when you need to carry more than just your phone, wallet and lipstick. It's also the ideal size for a carry-on when you need to bring your essentials for comfort and convenience on a long flight.
Out of all the types of bags available, the backpack is by far the most versatile and useful. Enormous totes and accordions have their time and place, but most can't carry the weight that a backpack can. The dual strap design makes wearing the backpack comfortable and efficient.
While often associated with large, bulky exteriors, backpacks come in many sizes and styles. For extended trips, backpacks with multiple pockets and layers allow for optimal storage. Even if you're enjoying a casual day of sightseeing or running errands, a backpack purse offers a chic compact design for hands-free ease.
The Baguette Bag
Fendi debuted their compact handbag in 1997, but it wasn't until fictional "Sex and the City" fashion authority Carrie Bradshaw sported the baguette on screen that it became the "It" bag of the era. Like a French baguette, the unmistakable bag has a slender rectangular shape, a short handle and a flap closure.
The baguette's size makes it the perfect bag for a casual day out with friends. Whether you're shopping on Fifth Avenue or brunching with friends, the baguette holds what you really need — your phone and credit card.
The Basket Bag
Basketry, the art of basket making, is considered the oldest craft in the world, dating back at least 10,000 years. While there's a considerably lower demand for baskets nowadays, the modern interpretation of the basket bag unifies the ancient art form with contemporary materials and designs.
The basket bag, also known as the straw bag, is classified by its woven outer layer. The shape and size may vary, but the unmistakable woven texture is what makes this bag a consistent, classic summer accessory that will never go out of style.
The Beach Bag
When sunny skies call for sunbathing and swimming, the beach bag holds anything and everything you could need for a day by the water. But not just any oversized bag can be deemed a "beach bag." A beach bag isn't just another tote — it's defined by its lightweight waterproof fabric and size. A good beach bag should be able to hold your favorite poolside novel, towel or blanket, water bottle, sunscreen and anything other vacation essentials.
The Bowling Bag
Like saddle shoes and camp-collar shirts, fashion from the 1950s always makes its way back into modern designs — and the bowling bag is no exception. Inspired by the actual bags that carried bowling balls, the bowling bag has a chic, sloped curve shape that's domed at the top. The short handles, 180-degree zipper and durable frame make this relaxed style all the more functional and convenient.
With various colors, adornments and prints, the bowling bag can be dressed up or toned down to meet your personal style. Pair with dark jeans and a casual white T-shirt for a laid-back look, or a tea-length skirt and long-sleeved blouse when the occasion calls for formal attire.
The Bucket Bag
The distinct design of the bucket bag can be traced as far back as the 1900s. Although we have much more to carry now, the unique drawstring purse has gone through several stages of evolution in size and styling. All the same, the foundation of the design remains prominent, featuring a flat bottom, rounded shape and long handles with a drawstring closer.
The bucket bag is often associated with casual bohemian styles as a cross between a bowler and a basket bag. But with some leather, beading and embellishments, a smaller bucket bag effortlessly blends into the evening wear genre.
Regardless of the theme or formality of the event, this elegant, streamlined bag pairs perfectly with any upscale occasion. The clutch is perhaps the most iconic purse in the world. The flattened slim design offers sleek sophistication, with some modern variations offering removable embellishments like wrist and shoulder straps for versatility and convenience.
Today's renditions often include sequined or beaded designs for formal galas and less conspicuous styles for date nights in the city. With an entire rainbow of colors to consider and a range of personalized options, there's a clutch for everyone.
The Fanny Pack
While a somewhat unconventional type of bag, the fanny pack deserves its due — especially with '90s era trends coming back into the spotlight. The fanny pack goes by many names, including the hip pack, bumbag, waist bag, moon bag and belly bag. Call it what you like — the design remains the same. It's a small purse or pouch attached to a belt, which you can strap around your waist or wear diagonally across your chest.
Some designs have multiple compartments for adequate storage, but the compact size is still ideal for carrying all of your necessities. Much like a backpack, the fanny pack allows for hands-free living while ensuring your personal belongings are secure.
The Hobo Bag
Forget the name for one minute and focus instead on the effortlessly fabulous design. The slouchy crescent-shaped and easy-grab handle give this handbag its distinct look. Whether styled with athleisure or jeans and a blazer, the hobo bag is a timeless piece that's always by your side for your next adventure.
The hobo bag is a casual hybrid between a shoulder bag and a tote. It's always made from soft fabric to keep its slumped shape and makes room for all of us to channel our inner bohemian. It's fashion-forward without trying and holds everything from your laptop to your hand sanitizer.
The Messenger Bag
The messenger bag has a unique place in the fashion industry. For decades, designers have worked to create functional yet stylish handbags for men, with mixed receptions. However, the messenger bag is the one design that has met the demands and expectations of a merged audience. A messenger bag, also known as a man purse, is a favorite of men and women.
It has a long strap worn over the shoulder, crossing in front of the chest so that the bag rests on the lower back. Although associated with cycling city couriers, the pack was originally used in the military. Messenger bags are designed to withstand active lifestyles, whether that means biking across a city or going from one class to another. With extra pockets and a long rectangular shape, you'll never have to worry about running out of space.
A minaudiere is more than an accessory — it's a statement piece designed to catch eyes and evoke intrigue. Designed by Charles Arpels of Van Cleef & Arpels in the 1930s, its tiny compartment holds just what a woman needs for an evening of champagne and fine conversation — a compact, lipstick and keys.
Along with its petite size, a minaudiere is often adorned with decadent precious or semi-precious stones, silk, embroidery and a gold or silver metallic finish. It's considered to be a piece of jewelry and an evening bag. Today's minaudieres are often a bit more casual — look to the popular Jacquemus Le Chiquito for a minaudiere that captures the eye in any situation.
However you wear it, a minaudiere will add elegance and vivacity to every ensemble.
As you've probably already guessed, the original saddlebag was designed to easily strap or tie to a saddle, motorcycle or bicycle. However, the modern handbag has a single shoulder strap that transitions this pouch into the wearable accessory we know it as today. The saddlebag has a soft, rounded bottom and sometimes features a short handle so you can hold it instead of letting it hang from your shoulder. It also has a distinct foldover top and clasp for style and function.
Although leather saddlebags create an all-around polished look, the saddlebag is undoubtedly a casual style. With a streamlined, timeless design, the saddlebag is a worthy candidate for becoming your new go-to accessory.
The Satchel Bag
This medium-size handbag is defined by its short dual handles, rectangular shape and foldover flap that fastens with the click of a buckle. Most satchels come in a hidden shoulder strap you can clip on to turn your handbag into a shoulder bag.
Satchels are typically made from soft — sometimes faux — leather. Unlike other handbags, they're designed to carry large, heavy items like laptops and books, along with your everyday necessities. Satchels have a slightly rugged yet composed look — think of it as a casual briefcase. They look right at home in a scholastic and professional environment and are easy to tote from home to work.
The Shoulder Bag
While some bags may feature a shoulder strap, a true shoulder bag is rectangular in shape and effortlessly blends from one style to the next with a classic and practical design. True to its name, the shoulder bag has a long strap or chain that allows the bag to hang from one shoulder and rest comfortably against the waist.
Although there are many types of shoulder bags that come in a range of colors and materials, a neutral faux leather shoulder bag will help you go from workday professional to casual dinner date without missing a beat. With style and function, the shoulder bag is designed for everyday use for bold fashionistas and vogue minimalists alike.
The Tote Bag
Out of all the types of bags for women, there are few as loveable as the tote. There was seldom a shoulder without one flanking its side in the late 2000s and early 2010s. However, the oversized bag we can't get enough dates back to the '40s. L.L. Bean was the first to produce the large canvas bag as a means of carrying ice from the car to the freezer — but we all know that legendary ideas are often born out of necessity.
The '60s brought about many memorable trends, but the modern-day tote bag is one that we have yet to tire of. The large, single compartment allows you to efficiently pack items during your morning rush out the door. With short handles that fit the bag comfortably under your shoulder and durable fabric, the tote bag helps you effortlessly carry the weight of your latest splurge without showing signs of wear.
With an array of materials and prints to browse, the tote bag is so adaptable we doubt it'll ever go out of style.
Also known as a bracelet bag, the wristlet is a small purse that's very similar to a clutch but with a few small identifiable differences. The bracelet bag features a strap that effortlessly slips over your wrist and comes in several styles and sizes. While clutches may have a zipper, latch or magnetic snaps to close, the wristlet always has a zipper. That's to keep items from falling out, as the wrist strap naturally tilts the bag into a downward slope when held.
The minimalist design makes the wristlet the perfect grab-and-go purse for quick errands, concerts or walking your dog.
Different Bag Materials
A handbag is only as good as the materials it's made from. When it comes to luxury handbags, the defining markers include fabric, embellishments and functionality. The seamless incorporation of these elements is what separates quality handbags from those that fall apart at the seams. Being able to spot a great bag from an inferior one will save you from the embarrassment of snapped straps and ripped linings.
The outside of the bag is what immediately draws the eye to a stunning handbag. Because the exterior fabric makes up the entire bag, you need to choose your materials with care. Look for durable materials that will last through hectic workdays, late nights out and every bump and bruise along the way. The best tried and tested fabrics for handbags include:
- Leather: Since its beginning, leather has been used to carry one's possessions on short and long journeys alike. Genuine leather is supple and strong. Its resistance to stains and water makes it one of the most durable fabrics available. If you'd prefer an alternative to genuine leather, faux leather has been engineered to offer the same qualities with an affordable price tag.
- Canvas: Made from woven cotton and linen, canvas is a heavy-duty material that doesn't break under pressure. When blended with synthetic materials, it can even be made to be water-resistant.
- Squishee®: Partially made from recycled plastic, Squishee bears an uncanny resemblance to straw but with none of the fraying and tearing. It's an ideal environmentally friendly and identical substitute for straw that's more durable. Its strength means you can roll, fold and pack your favorite bag without damaging its shape.
- Upholstery materials: Although it may sound strange, many handbags are made with fabrics used to upholster furniture. These fabrics come in an unparalleled variety of colors, patterns and textures, so you can cohesively match your outfits to your bags. Unlike printed fabrics, upholstery materials have the design sewn into the fabric itself using different color threads.
While bows and lace are a nice touch, functional embellishments are what make a handbag practical and stylish — think zippers, hooks and locks.
- Zippers: Zippers are everywhere, and we'd be lost without them. Though some zippers are simply for decoration, most of them are used for opening and closing compartments in purses and handbags. Whether they're made with plastic or metal, they make for a stylish and functional feature.
- Snap hooks: Wristlets and handbags that can be transformed into shoulder bags — and vice versa — typically use snap hooks to pull off the design. With one click you have a second style, making your favorite saddle bag your new favorite clutch.
- Locks: Most of us don't hold our bags throughout the day, so locks make for a convenient and fashionable adornment. Push locks are usually seen on the front of flaps of handbags to keep your belongings where they should be — safe and secure inside.
- Sliders: Sliders usually feature plastic or metal rings that sit on the shoulder strap of a bag. They allow you to easily adjust the length of your shoulder straps without tarnishing the material.
Find Today's "It" Bag at Eric Javits
A great handbag isn't just another accessory — it's an investment. In a time when quality trumps quantity, a well-crafted handbag will hold its weight in value and stand the test of time without showing it. With sophisticated designs and exceptional materials, Eric Javits has a bag for every need in every size. Whether you're searching for classic pieces to start your collection or want bold, colorful styles that make a statement, our extensive catalog features designs to match your personal style.
Are you looking for the perfect summer shoulder bag? As the exclusive designer of the patented Squishee material, Eric Javits is your go-to shop to get your new favorite beach bag or summer purse. Water-resistant, bendable and virtually unbreakable, our straw hats and bags will have you doing your part for the environment while looking fabulous, whether you're poolside or sidewalk dining.
If you're gearing up for fall activities or rushing to the office, our dark and neutral-toned handbags and backpacks will keep all of your essential items secure and accessible at your side while looking chic. These purses and totes are both practical and stylish, allowing you to transport bulky items while ensuring your outfit appears complete.
No matter what kind of bag you're after, shop our selection today to find the next perfect purse for your collection.
It's reliable. It's elegant. It's one-of-a-kind. It's an Eric Javits bag.