Looking for your a new tote or satchel? Not sure what kind of bag will work best for your wardrobe, both practically and fashionably? I’ve got you covered! In this guide, I'm going through the main types of purses and bags to help narrow your search for your perfect investment bag.
Why purchase an investment bag
When you find “the right purse,” it becomes an extension of you. It’s where you hold your daily essentials and all your important must-haves. At Current Boutique, we believe it’s not about finding the “trendiest” bag but instead about finding the bag that speaks to your unique needs and taste. Aside from shoes, a bag is the most practical accessory you’ll own that also adds a new dimension and style to your outfit.
Something that’s that important to your daily life is worth investing in!
I wrote this article to help you understand the different types of bags that are out there and what their functionality looks like, so you can narrow your search for the perfect bag for you. Your bag is an extension of you, so you want to find a high-quality one that’s going to look good, feel great, and be with you for years to come.
Learn how the experts buy investment bags here. Hint: Consider if the bag adds value to your daily life, if it can stand the test of time, if you can keep it in good condition, and if you love it!
Purse versus handbag
Nowadays, “purse” and “handbag” are typically used interchangeably for the most common and overarching style of bag. Historically, a “purse” was used to describe a small bag that held money and other small trinkets (like your makeup, phone, and keys). In the 20th century, Louis Vuitton began making daily bags that looked like small suitcases, which is where the term “handbag” came from. Handbags tend to be larger with more storage options, great for carrying around more items than just your keys and wallet.
The two are essentially interchangeable, though, it’s considered more modern to use the word “handbag.” (Some regions even still use the word “pocketbook.”)
“Handbag” is typically a catch-all term when referring to any kind of bag. In this guide, you’ll hear us referring to handbags in the general as well as some more specific types of bags like satchels, baguettes, etc.
Psst… This is slightly different than a hand bag, which is a bag that you can carry with your hand!
A satchel is historically used to carry books and became known as the “academia” bag. It’s a blend of a handbag and a tote bag with a large strap that’s typically worn diagonally across the body, with the bag itself hanging on the opposite hip. This was meant to help lighten the load when carrying books. Satchels are typically structured, meaning they can stand on their own, but they’re soft-sided, unlike a briefcase. They’re made of a type of strong, durable material—often leather or vegan leather—to help carry books, laptops, and other large items.
The satchel became popularized for more than just the academic world thanks to its timeless and studious look. It is effortlessly classy, giving off that Oxford or Cambridge vibe in daily life. Additionally, because it’s durably structured to hold books, it became a practical go-to for everyday living. Satchels are large enough—yet fashionable enough—to bring everything you need with you for work, school, or travel. Want to learn more about the uniqueness of the satchel bag? Check out this Hammitt article!
Find your perfect every day, everywhere satchel here.
The hobo bag, popularized in the early 2000s during the movement towards the boho-chic trend, is a large, crescent shape handbag. It’s soft, slouchy, and mostly unstructured, and it’s typically made from flexible materials like soft leather, suede, or microfiber. This gives it a naturally casual and effortless look. It has a moderately large strap, perfect for wearing on the elbow or over the shoulder.
This bag is referred to as a “hobo bag” because it has a similar shape as the bindle on a stick that fictionalized hobos would carry on their shoulders in drawings and cartoons. Although this term is still popular in mainstream fashion, there’s an important movement towards changing the name of the hobo bag to be more inclusive and more descriptive.
Bucket bags are a more recent trend—but they’re quickly becoming a staple in every woman’s wardrobe. Bucket bags look sort of like buckets with a flat bottom which allows them to sit upright without falling over. They’ll usually also have some sort of metal feet to further keep its structure and protect the bottom of the bag when you set it down. Bucket bags will often have a drawstring closure that further prevents contents from spilling out, while still making your purse easily openable and accessible (without easy access for thieves).
Bucket bags are designed to carry everything you need, making them a fashionable yet practical option for daily use. Different bucket bags have different handles and straps—some go on the arm or shoulder, others are crossbodies, and others can even be a backpack. However you like to carry your purse, you can probably find a bucket bag to suit your style. They match with just about any outfit or event, transitioning smoothly from work to the gym to a special event—and they can even be used as a small carry-on for travel.
This new trend is becoming the most sought-after style of bag, and we anticipate the bucket bag will stick around in high fashion for years to come.
Shop stunning bucket bags here. Get yours now, because our bucket bags tend to sell fast!
Though you might initially think of the 90s when you hear “baguette,” this iconic bag has become a must-have in every woman’s handbag rotation. With its compact style and short shoulder strap, it fits just a few of your essentials with a greater focus on the style of the bag itself.
But don’t be fooled by its small size – great things come in small packages! The baguette is filled with sophistication, elegance, and fun! Whether you prefer a timeless French girl style, a bright and flirty 2000s look, or a feminine and floral form, the baguette is an endlessly trendy way to add flair to your outfit. Start browsing our designer baguettes here.
Clutches & Wristlets
These extra-small bags have become a favorite for women who want to carry the essentials without having a bag that takes up a lot of space.
Clutches are about the size of a large envelope and don’t have straps or handles, so you have to “clutch” them with your hand. These are most commonly used for formal occasions, but they’re also becoming a trendy option for casual events.
Wristlets are small handbags with a short strap that’s worn like a bracelet. These are large enough to fit your phone, money, and lip gloss, and they’re compact and easy to style. They’ve become a particularly useful option for going out or traveling, because you have all your essentials always attached to your hand (making it harder for thieves to steal). And if you want, you can even clip a wristlet to your pants’ belt loops, a backpack, or another purse to function as a stylish, easily accessible wallet.
Both clutches and wristlets are gorgeous yet functional accessories that can elevate the look and style of an outfit. Since they’re so small, they are also a great way to “dabble” in bolder fashion styles and trends like bright colors, sparkles, or animal prints without committing to an entire outfit or larger statement piece.
Check out some of our stunning designer clutches and wristlets available now so you can find your perfect go-to handheld purse.
Crossbody bags are those that have long straps, enabling them to be worn across the body. Crossbodies are a personal favorite because they’re both timelessly stylish and effortlessly practical. Available in just about any material, size, color, or silhouette you could want, crossbodies are one of the easiest purses to match with your personal style.
Some reasons we love crossbodies:
- They’re super versatile. Whether you’re going grocery shopping, hitting happy hour with the girls, or attending a cocktail party, a classic crossbody can be worn from morning to night.
- They’re always considered elegant and sophisticated. While other bags go in and out of fashion, a practical crossbody remains a go-to for high fashion and streetwear alike.
- No matter your style, you can find a crossbody to fit your outfit. Whether you like something more boho and free or structured and designer, the right crossbody can easily become every girl’s best friend.
- They tend to be small- to medium-sized. They’re large enough to fit the essentials and a few extras without carrying around any extra weight, but they’re also much more manageable than shoulder or tote bags.
- They’re hands-free! If you’re a busy lady, having your hands available is a must.
- They’re also the safest bag when traveling or walking through the city. A thief can’t just grab your bag and run, since it’s worn around your entire torso. They also usually have zippers and stay close to the body, so it’s much less likely you’ll be pickpocketed.
Find your dream crossbody bag here!
Tote bags are large handbags with parallel handles on either side of the pouch. Traditionally, tote bags don’t have fasteners on top, so the pouch of the bag is left open. The two handles are worn over the shoulder (shoulder bags only have one strap), which works to keep the bag closed while in use. Tote bags are typically unstructured and don’t have a lot of organization inside, focusing instead on roominess and space. You’ve likely seen or used totes as reusable grocery or shopping bags to help minimize the use of plastic bags. Higher-end tote bags typically have slightly more structure to them than these reusable bags, though, as they’re made of quality materials like leather or canvas.
Use tote bags to go shopping, a quick day trip, or as your daily work bag. You can find a fun tote bag that shows off your favorite places, shows, or hobbies, or you can go for a high-end designer tote bag that will make a gorgeous yet practical fashion statement.
Although totes are worn on the shoulder, they’re slightly different from a “shoulder bag.” Shoulder bags usually only have one strap (not two, as a tote does), and they have some sort of clasp or zipper closing them shut. They also have more internal storage with different types of pockets, while a tote usually doesn’t have more than one inside pocket.
There are different types of shoulder bags, like a single strap satchel or a messenger bag, but the term is most commonly used to describe a handbag that’s worn over the shoulder.
Shoulder bags are, in our opinion, the most timeless bag. They’re effortlessly stylish and always on-trend, and you can always find a shoulder bag that speaks to your unique style. We also love that they’re big enough to hold everything you need but throwing them on the shoulder puts them “out of the way” so you can still use your hands and go about your busy day.
Check out our incredible array of shoulder bags from brand-name designers at a fraction of their original ticket price.
We can’t forget the backpack. What was once considered a bag solely for school has now become a go-to purse and fashion statement. Backpacks are worn on the back, secured with two straps worn over each shoulder.
While most backpacks are still used traditionally for schooling or hiking or traveling, a lot of designers are pushing the envelope when it comes to the frame and style of backpacks. High-end designers often offer lightweight backpacks with smaller straps and reduced “cargo” area to create a more refined, fashion-forward look. These function more like a purse than a backpack in terms of capacity and function, but they’re a hands-free option for women who are always on the move.
Having a set of backpacks in your closet for school, work, travel, weekend trips, and day trips is the sign of a truly practical and versatile woman. Check out our in-stock backpacks and travel bags here. (These sell out quickly, so act fast when you see something you like!)
What is YOUR favorite type of bag? Do you have a go-to bag that’s become an extension of yourself?