Nine Essential Handbags for Women
If you're like the average woman, your everyday handbag contains your entire life, or at least your wallet, phone, sunglasses, tissue, 14 kinds of lipstick, several loose mints, moisturizer, hand sanitizer, and change. It's probably pretty spacious. Now imagine carrying all of that weight for hours while walking around on vacation, or picture trying to maneuver your large purse around a tiny bar without whacking fellow patrons in the head. There's a reason there are multiple types of handbags for women—different shapes and sizes are clutch in different situations. Read on to learn about the nine essential types of purses you need in your life.
1. The tote
MFK Collection handbag (from $39.99)
Their sturdy shape and structured interiors mean that totes are among the most practical handbags for women, but totes can be just as fashionable as functional. Try one dressed up in supple leather or grab one with some jaunty nautical stripes to give the most pedestrian part of your day some panache.
2. The wristlet
Faux Ostrich Leather Wristlet (from $18.95)
Tiny, sure, but still surprisingly necessary. Many women love stashing their credit cards, phone, and keys inside a wristlet because it's easier to grab when dashing out of the house for a quick errand. Wristlets can also be used to organize small odds and ends in a larger purse, to store coupons, and to hold the lipstick and cash tips you need during a wedding. And they're perfect for those Sunday fundays when all you need is an I.D. and a credit card.
3. The messenger
A modern classic. Originally developed for couriers, they've since become a great briefcase alternative for professionals in more casual working environments as they can hold everything from papers to laptops. They're great as chic diaper bags, too, as they're fairly easy to take stuff out of, even with a baby slung on one hip.
4. The backpack
Black Fashion Backpack/Shoulder Bag ($36.69)
Shouldering a heavy bag can be awful for your posture. Small backpacks give your body a break every once in a while by distributing weight evenly, which is especially key during longer excursions, like clothes-shopping trips or music festivals. Luxe materials like leather help them transcend their status as a schoolyard staple.
5. The duffel
Lily Bloom Wheeled Duffel Bag (from $44.99)
This oversized bag is ideal for a weekend trip—just throw in a few versatile pieces of clothing, a book, and some travel-size toiletries. If you're a fan of impromptu getaways, consider keeping one packed and ready to go.
6. The satchel
Lara Dome Satchel (from $34.99)
Mid-sized, loaded with compartments, gets plenty of mileage: satchels are like the Toyota Camrys of the handbag world. And we mean that in the best possible way. These ladylike, everyday bags often have both handles and a strap, too, which means that you can carry them in the crook of your arm and then sling them over your shoulder when you get tired.
7. The crossbody
Tassled Leather Crossbody Handbag (from $22.99)
Is it just us, or do crossbody purses get cuter as they get smaller? Tinier crossbodies are basically a hands-free version of the wristlet, though a crossbody in any size is great for protecting your currency and I.D. when traveling.
8. The hobo
Style Strategy Hobo Bag (from $33.99)
Some days, you just need to carry literally everything you own while simultaneously embodying that boho chic vibe. This oversized bag holds as much as a tote, but it makes outfits look a bit less structured.
9. The clutch
Marsi Bond Ava Envelope Clutch Handbag (from $34.99)
Like a wristlet, clutches are small in size. Yet thanks to structure, bling, or avant-garde design, clutches often feel more glamorous than wristlets, making them one of the best types of handbags for women to use during nights out. Opt for a clutch with a removable crossbody strap, attach it on the nights that you go dancing, and marvel at the ease with which you keep your belongings safe while windmilling your arms to the beat.
If you'd rather avoid the hassle of swapping out purses, our must-have handbag quiz can help you determine your go-to bag.