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Purses and handbags – a complete visual guide to purse and handbag types

Types of purses and handbags–a visual guide to purse types

No accessory contributes more pop to the look of your outfit than the perfect complementary handbag. When shopping for purses and handbags, use the guide below which describes and illustrates the various types (styles) of handbags and purses.

Backpack purse

Backpack purse

A backpack purse is carried on the shoulders using double straps that lie across the back. This allows the hands to remain free but has the disadvantage of requiring the purse be removed to access its contents. Size of backpack purses vary but most take advantage of the shoulder strap support and thus are fairly large. A variety of closures are used including zippers, claps, buckles, and drawstrings.

Baguette bag

Baguette bag

A baguette bag is a relatively long, narrow, and short purse. They have a single shoulder strap and typically a foldover flap with a buckle or clasp closure.

Barrel bag

Barrel bag

A barrel bag is like a duffel bag but smaller in size. It has a cylindrical shape, like a barrel, and two top handles the come together when carried. Most have a top zipper closure.

Bucket bag

Bucket bag

As its name implies, a bucket bag is a large bag shaped like a bucket. They have solid structured bottoms with a slouchier top. They are carried via a shoulder strap and use a drawstring to close its open top.

Clutch bag

Clutch bag

A clutch bag is small and rectangular shaped. They have no handle and must be “clutched” in hand to carry. Some may have a small decorative strap but it is usually not sturdy enough for long-term carrying. Their small size allows them to hold little more than a cellphone and some makeup. Despite the functional disadvantage, it’s petite size comes off as classy and is a must carry at formal events.

Crossbody purse

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Although a broadly defined category of purse, a crossbody purse typically features a front flap and sturdy, adjustable straps that allow the purse to be worn across the body. The design allows the hands to remain free and keeps the purse close to the body for freedom of movement. Its prominent position means it must be carefully selected to accentuate the outfit.

Doctor’s bag

Doctor's bag purse

A doctor’s bag is an elongated, duffel-shaped leather bag, usually with a flat bottom, rounded sides, and two large handles that come together for carrying. The mouth is constructed around a collapsible metal frame that springs open when the handles are separated.

Duffel bag

Duffel bag

A duffel bag is a large, elongated bag with flat sides and a flat bottom. They are often used for travel or for carrying sports equipment. Most duffel bags feature a zippered closure and both top handles and straps for carrying. Many feature pockets on the outside ends.

Envelope clutch

Envelope clutch bag

An envelope clutch purse is a type of clutch bag that is flat, square, or rectangular with a triangle-shaped top flap that folds over like an envelope. The top usually features magnetic clasps or buckles for closure. Like a typical clutch bag, the envelope clutch had no handles and must be carried in hand. Some envelope clutch bags have a short wrist strap and are called “wristlet bags”.

Foldover purse

Foldover purse

A foldover purse has a top-piece that can be folded over. Most have top handles but straps are fairly common too. Most feature zippered closures. The foldover purse is a compact shape when folded but carries more when unfolded.

Frame handbag

Frame handbag

Frame handbags are rectangular shaped with one or two short handles. As the name indicates, they are constructed around a hinged metal frame that opens wide at the top. The top locks via magnetic flaps, clasps, kissing locks, or zippered closures. A doctor’s bag is a type of frame handbag.

Hobo bag

Hobo bag

A hobo bag is a medium to large, frameless, crescent-shaped bag that is carried on the shoulder. The phrase can be used to describe any large bag that hangs from the shoulder.

Messenger bag

Messenger bag purse

A messenger bag is a thin, wide bag with long straps that are worn across the body allowing the bag to rest comfortably on the lower back. They feature a large flap and are typically made with materials that are weather resistant and durable.

Minaudiere bag

Minaudiere bag

A minaudiere bag is a small, round or box-shaped clutch bag with hard sides and a hinged frame. Closures are usually clasps or kissing locks. These formal evening bags are typically decorated with metal embellishments or sparkling stones.

Saddle bag

Saddle bag purse

The saddle bag takes it name from horse saddlebags. They are small to medium size bags with rounded bottoms and front flap closures. They use a crossbody strap for carrying. As with horse saddlebacks, they are often made of leather with metal hardware and embellishments.

Satchel purse

Satchel purse

A satchel is a medium to large structured handbag with a wide, flat bottom (that allows it to stand upright) and double top handles for carrying. Satchels come in a variety of shapes but typically have flap tops with buckles or clasp closures. With their wide, flat bottom, satchels are functional and can be used to carry just about anything.

Tote bag

Tote bag

A tote bag is a medium to large purse, often squarish in shape, with two straps or short handles for carrying. They may be referred to as a shopper’s bag.

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