A handbag is typically used to carry personal items such as wallets, keys, makeup, phones, documents and other small items. Handbags are often made of materials such as leather, canvas, or synthetic fabrics, and come in various sizes, styles, and designs. They can be carried by hand or with a shoulder strap.
There are many types of handbags, each designed for different occasions, styles, and functions. Here are some of the most common types.
All photos below were provided by Mautto customers, showcasing their new straps.
Shoulder or Crossbody Bag
This first style is more about function, while the rest of the list is about form, size and shape. These bags are designed to be carried over the shoulder or worn across the body, usually with a single or multiple compartments, for carrying items such as wallets, keys and phones.
These are the most popular style and for good reason. They are versatile, stylish, can be dressed up or down, come in a variety of shapes, and can usually be customized with an accessory strap.
A horizontally rectangular shaped bag with a long strap that can be worn over the shoulder or across the body. It’s perfect for carrying everyday essentials.
The term "satchel" is thought to have originated in the 17th century, when it was used to describe a bag carried by soldiers. This style of bag has been around for a long time, but became popular in the 2000s. Typical characteristics: Comfortable / Practical / Stylish
Similar to satchels, messenger bags have a rectangular form with a long (usually adjustable) strap that can be worn over the shoulder or across the body.
This style of bag was first used by bicycle messengers in the 1950s and 1960s. It became popular among students in the 1990s and is still popular today. Typical characteristics: Comfortable / Secure / Versatile
A large bag with two handles that can be carried over the shoulder or by hand. Totes usually feature a large, open compartment, with pockets inside for storing smaller items. Great for carrying everything you need for a day out, or for easily carrying all of your daily essentials.
This style of bag became popular in the 1940s and is still popular today due to its comfort and stylish looks. Typical characteristics: Durable / Large / Versatile
A professional-looking structured bag that is great for carrying and securing documents, laptops, and other work-related items. This style of bag has been around since the 1850s and is still popular among professionals today. Typical characteristics: Durable / Professional / Secure
Bucket or Barrel Bag
A stylish bag with a round bottom and a drawstring closure at the top, usually cylindrical-shaped. Perfect for carrying everyday essentials, these types of bags are easy to carry over the shoulder.
This style of bag became popular in the 1970s and is still popular today. This style of bag can be dressed up or down, making it a great choice for casual or formal occasions. Typical characteristics: Comfortable / Stylish / Versatile
A large bag with two handles and a zippered closure at the top. It’s perfect for carrying gym clothes or other athletic gear.
The word "duffel" is thought to come from the German word "Duffle", which means "bag for carrying clothes". Duffel bags were first used by soldiers in the 18th century, and they have been popular ever since. Typical characteristics: Comfortable / Durable / Versatile
A small, handheld bag with no straps or handles that’s perfect for formal occasions like weddings. A clutch is often used for carrying small items, such as a wallet, keys, phone, and cosmetics.
The word "clutch" is thought to come from the French word "clutcher", which means "to clasp". Clutch bags were first used in the 19th century, and they have been popular ever since. Typical characteristics: Lightweight / Stylish / Versatile
A small, strapless bag that is carried by hand or worn around the wrist. Wristlets function like a wallet and are often used for evening events or for carrying essentials like credit cards, cash, or a phone. They are a popular choice for those who want to keep their valuables close at hand.
Wristlets are a convenient and stylish way to carry your belongings. They are easy to access, and they are less likely to be lost or stolen than larger bags. Wristlets are a popular choice for people who want to be hands-free while they are out and about. Typical characteristics: Lightweight / Secure / Stylish
A crescent-shaped bag with a slouchy appearance that can be carried over the shoulder or by hand. This style of bag became popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The hobo bag is a versatile bag that can be dressed up or down. It is a popular choice for travel, as it is easy to pack and carry. Hobo bags are also a popular choice for everyday use, as they are comfortable and stylish. Typical characteristics: Comfortable / Stylish / Versatile
A fanny pack is a small bag that is worn around the waist, or, can be slung on the shoulder or across the body. It is usually secured with a strap or belt, and has a small pocket or pouch that can be used to store items such as keys, money, or a phone. Fanny packs are often used by hikers, cyclists, and other people who want to have easy access to their belongings while they are active.
Fanny packs became popular in the 1980s, and they have made a comeback in recent years. They are now seen as a stylish and practical accessory, and they can be found in a variety of colors, styles, and sizes. Typical characteristics: Comfortable / Secure / Stylish
A bag that is shaped like a horse saddle, with a flap closure and usually a crossbody strap. Saddle bags are great for a western-inspired look and can be dressed up or down. They are typically larger than a clutch bag and smaller than a tote bag.
The saddle bag is thought to have originated in the 19th century, when it was used by cowboys to carry their belongings. Saddle bags were typically made of leather and had a large compartment for carrying clothes, food, and other supplies. Typical characteristics: Comfortable / Stylish / Versatile
A structured bag with a top handle and a hinged frame that opens wide to reveal its contents. This style of bag has been around since the early 1900s. Typical characteristics: Durable / Versatile
Related article: How to Choose a Strap Size that is Just Right for You