Bag Types or Bag Styles

When shopping for a new handbag or everyday bag you may find yourself a little confused by the overwhelming number of bag types or styles you may come across. What’s the difference between a handbag and a tote? A clutch and a wristlet? Or a satchel and a hobo? Which design is right for you? When and what are they used for? Many of you may already know the differences, but this little write up is for those who want a little more guidance.

Shopping for a new bag can be confusing. Sure, you may have seen one you like or a style that takes your fancy- but where do start your search for one? Start by knowing the basic “bag types“.

Let’s keep it simple and take a look at the most common bag types

Get yourself across the 6 basic types of bag styles that are the most popular with today’s shoppers.

  • Handbag bags

A handbag could be considered a generic name for any ladies everyday bag. But for the purpose of categorising bag types, a handbag is your typical, conventional everyday bag identified by having a large main storage compartment. Usually a zippered, buckled or buttoned-up opening at the top. A main feature is for a handbag to have a pair of small carry handles allowing it to be easily carried around by hand (giving it its namesake of ‘handbag’). A lot of handbags often have the option of a shoulder strap that can be clipped on or off as needed giving the bag a dual-carrying design. (Other variants include hobo, evening bag, cross-body bag, bowlers bag, shoulder bag, safari bag)

  • Totes bags

A Tote is similar to a handbag in the way that it has a large main compartment for storage and a pair of carry handles. A typical design of a tote is they taper out at the top to allow the opening to open wide making to easier to search the contents. Usually a tote doesn’t have a way of closing the entry or opening but in saying that this isn’t a definitive rule as you may still find a ‘tote’ style design with a zipper or clasp as a way of securing the bag to stop things falling out or to secure the contents from theft. (Other variants include shoppers, half moon bag, swagger, bucket bag, beach bags)

  • Satchel bags

A satchel is a very popular bag style as they are small (large enough for an ipad or exercise book) yet still practical. They are characterised by the opening being more like a flap that folds down over one side opposed to having the opening at the top (kind of like an envelope). Many designs of satchels are available the shapes can range from rectangle, square, round to the shape of animals and cartoon characters. The handle is usually a single, long, thin shoulder strap that is often worn across the body for comfort. (Other variants include envelope, canteen)

  • Messenger bags

A messenger bag in some ways are very similar to a satchel however they are much larger in size and are usually a more rectangle shape. They are popular with both men and women and many people utilise these bags for carrying technology such as iPads and laptops as well as paperwork, books and documentation. They are popular with urban professionals for this reason. The straps are usually a long shoulder strap that is wider and more durable than the straps found on satchels. Designed to worn across the body for comfort. Many people who ride push bikes to work will prefer a messenger bag for their ability to easily carry all the important stuff comfortably. (Other variants include school bag, cross-body)

  • Hobos bags

A hobo bag is conventionally just a deviation of a normal handbag but hobos are identified by the shape of the top opening section being a crescent shape and will tend to ‘sag’ in the middle in its natural state. Simply just a design of bag rather than ‘type’ but you will find this name thrown about when shopping for a new bag. They are popular because the can often hold a good amount stuff. (Other variants include crescent bag, half moon bag)

  • Clutches bags

A clutch is simply a small rectangle bag that has no handles. You ‘clutch’ it with your hands and carry it with you. Many clutches will have small wallet styled features inside for money and cards etc. These are a popular option when carrying a full sized bag is either not necessary or inconvenient. You may see the word wristlet used, these are basically just a small clutch with a carry strap on one side big enough to slide you hand through and have it hung from your wrist.

In Summary

If you are a true bag aficionado then perhaps the above descriptions are a little basic, but for the rest of us they are a great reference and starting point for unravelling the maze of bag shopping.

You may often see more then one of the above bag types used to describe the one handbag style- its not uncommon for many bag designers to incorporate the best features of more than one bag type to create hybrids.

At the end of the day however, if you don’t really care about the ‘style’ or the bag type you will simply just shop with your eyes and make you decision of which bag you like the most and which bag is going to suit your needs perfectly.

Happy Shopping!

Learn more in our blog: