Monday, December 31, 2012

Style Basics, Part Two: Handbags

Handbags can be really tricky when it comes to figuring out what kind of purse is what. Is this a clutch or an evening bag? Is this a cross body or a satchel? No worries, dear fashionista; I've put together this handy guide to help you cope with your Handbag-itis. Now, take a deep breath, and prepare to learn.

(Some bags were not available to me from my personal collection, so I have included links for examples of the bag.)

Athletic Bag
Athletic bags, like this bright one from Puma, are roomy, soft bags, which are built to hold athletic equipment and things you would use at the gym (ex. waterbottles, sneakers, sporting equipment, towels, etc.). They are usually made of synthetic fibers, but some are canvas or terrycloth.

Backpacks are strong, durable bags, with two straps that go over the shoulders. They usually have zippers to open them, but some have drawstrings.


A billfold is a flat wallet with a built in clip or compartment for holding bills. 


A Birkin is a special bag made by Hermes. It comes in so many styles and types, so I figured it has a category of its own. This Birkin is the Classic, in red. They generally have two straps that attach in the front with a twisting piece. These classic bags on the "cheaper" side run for about $11,000.

Bucket Purse (Feed Bag)
A bucket purse is a bag, usually shaped like a bucket, with an open top and a shoulder strap.

Camera Bag
A camera bag is a special type of purse, which has special adaptations to hold cameras and camera equipment. These bags tend to have lots of pockets and compartments, and padded lining to protect the camera parts.

Canteen Bag
Canteen bags are round. hard, flat bags, intended to hold liquids (although high fashion has shown them on the runway). They generally have shoulder straps, and are meant to look like traveller's water canteens.

Card Case
Card cases are small, metal (or plastic) cases the size of standard business cards. They are meant to hold business cards.

Carpet Bag
Carpet bags are large bags usually used for travel. They get their name because they are generally made out of carpet material.

Change Purse
Change Purses are small bags, meant for holding loose coins and change. They usually zip or clasp close.


Clutches are bags without handles, and they must be carried under the arm or "clutched" in your hand.

Convertible Bag

Convertible bags are just like clutches, but have a handle that can be tucked in or left out, therefor "converting" into different bags.

Cosmetic Case

A cosmetic case is a small, zippered bag that is used to hold cosmetics. They are generally made out of fabric, and range in sizes.

Drawstring Bags

Drawstring bags are made of soft material, and have a string that is pulled. The string can turn into a handle, or there can be other handles.

Duffel Bags
Duffel bags are long bags, usually with two handles. They can be used as travel bags, or some are used for fashion statements.

Envelope Bag

An envelope bag is a type of clutch, with a triangular top that fold down to close (like an envelope).

Fishing Creel

Vintage Fishing Creel

Fishing creels are woven, flat-topped bags with a shoulder strap. Their original use was to keep fishermen's fish fresh.

Half Moon Bag

A half moon bag is a bag in the shape of a crescent. They usually have handles, and come in a variety of sizes.

Hobo Bag

Hobo bags re soft, large bags with shoulder straps, and they tend to crinkle down when placed on a surface (their shape is not supported in any way).

A minaudière is a small evening bag, like a clutch, that is adorned with pieces of metal, stone, jewels, crystals, or any other embellishments of the sorts. They are usually made out of leather.

A soft leather bag with a zippered top and two pockets on the outside. The pockets have buckle closures. The sarafi bag is known for its unique curved shape.


A satchel is a fairly large bag with a flat bottom, and usually has a rectangular shape. It has a top flap that fols over, serving as a closure. They come in a variety of sizes, from larger luggage bags, to doctor's bags.

A swagger bag is a roomy, structured bag with two open pockets on the outside. The top of the bag usually has a zipper or snap closure.

Tote Bags

Tote bags can either be structured (in a rectangular shape) or floppy, with two handles at the top. Tote bags don't usually have closures, and are usually pretty big. 


Wallets can be hard or soft, with zipper or clasp closures. Their purpose is to hold dollar bills and coins, but some can hold ID cards and photographs. Wallets are usually small, and in a rectangular shape.


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