Handbags Guide: 16 Types of Purses You Should Have

Handbags are essential accessories for people.

Every woman has a variety of handbags in her closet to suit different occasions.

There are many kinds of handbags, but how to distinguish them? Which occasions are they suitable for?

This article takes a closer look at 16 different handbags and when to use them.

Write on the front: This article will cross-use a handbag, bag, or purse to refer to all bags collectively. Because they are the same thing, but people in different regions call it differently.

1. Hobo Bag

Hobo bag, one type of handbags

A hobo bag is a medium-sized or large-sized bag made of soft leather or fabric. It usually has a long strap and can be carried by hand or put on your shoulder. It is a crescent shape when it is carried and cannot stand when it is put down.

The slouchy stance and crescent shape are two of the most notable features of a hobo bag.

Occasions: office, shopping, meeting friends

2. Satchel/Messenger Bag

Satchel messenger bag, one type of handbags

A satchel or messenger bag is a large, rectangular handbag with a flat, wide bottom and an opening at the top. It usually has two short handles (sometimes one handle or none) and a long detachable shoulder strap.

The traditional messenger bag refers to the large canvas bag used by the postman, which is relatively rare now.

Due to its large capacity, the satchel can generally hold various items such as magazines or iPad and is very popular among students and office workers.

Occasions: school, office, short travel

3. Tote Bag

Tote bag, one type of handbags

Tote bags are usually larger and have two long handles and an open top for easy loading and unloading of items.

More and more tote bags now have zipper closures at the top, as bags with no closure at all are becoming less popular and less secure.

Simple, large, and convenient are the characteristics of the tote bag.

Sometimes, a tote bag is also called a shopping bag or shopper because it has a large capacity and is very suitable for shopping.

Occasions: shopping, short trips, going out

4. Wristlet Bag

Wristlet bag, one type of handbags

The wristlet is a mini bag with a small wrist-worn handle that can carry debit cards, ID, lipstick, keys, some cash, and a smartphone.

Occasions: evening hopping, bar, weekend

5. Bucket Bag/Drawstring Bag

Bucket drawstring bag,  one type of handbags

A bucket bag, as the name suggests, is a cylindrical bag shaped like a bucket, usually with a large, hard, round, or oval bottom, and a drawstring or/and an internal snap button at the top.

Bucket bags usually have a long shoulder strap and are used as shoulder bags, and some have a short handle and are used as a handbag.

A bucket bag has a wide storage space and can store a large number of items, such as smartphones, wallets, cosmetics, books, etc.

A bucket bag with a drawstring closure is also known as a drawstring bag.

Occasion: office, shopping, meeting friends

6. Clutch Bag

Clutch bag, one type of handbags

A clutch is a flat, thin, and small handbag, usually without a wrist or shoulder strap, and the wearer can only carry it by “clutching”, which is more common in formal occasions such as evening parties and weddings.

Beads or sequins are two of the most common materials for clutches as they are more decorative and make the wearer more glamorous at an evening party.

A clutch bag is added with a wrist strap, which is equivalent to a wristlet bag.

Occasions: wedding party, party, cocktail, event

7. Cross-body Bag

Cross-body bag, one type of handbags

A cross-body bag is a small to medium-sized bag with a long shoulder strap that can be worn on your shoulder or across your body.

Its strap is adjustable and can be long to the hip or short to the waist.

Freeing your hands is its main selling point.

Occasions: shopping, date, traveling

8. Saddle Bag

Saddle bag, one type of handbags

The design of the saddle bag is inspired by the saddle, with a flat top and round bottom, a saddle-shaped front, and a flap cover.

A saddle bag is a type of cross-body bag.

Occasions: shopping, office, date

9. Backpack

Backpack, one type of handbags

A backpack is a bag carried on the back by two adjustable shoulder straps.

Backpacks are no longer exclusive to students, and many adults use them for work, travel, and weekends.

Especially after small backpacks became popular in 2017, you will see more and more people using backpacks on the street.

Occasions: school, work, weekend, travel

10. Duffle Bag/Gym Bag

Duffle bag, one type of handbags

A duffle bag (also spelled duffel bag), or gym bag, is a large-capacity cylindrical bag with two short handles and a zip closure top, generally made of canvas, nylon, or other soft fabrics.

Large capacity and durability are two characteristics of a duffle bag.

Occasions: travel, weekend, sport, gym, overnight stays

11. Barrel Bag

Barrel bag, one type of handbags

A barrel bag is a horizontal cylindrical bag with round or oval sides, two short handles (sometimes none handles), and a long detachable shoulder strap.

In general, we can say that a barrel bag is a smaller version of a duffle bag.

However, the design of the barrel bag is more abundant, and it is mostly used in daily life and work, rather than travel or business trips.

Occasions: work, shopping, date

12. Frame Purse

Frame purse, one type of handbags

A frame purse is a small bag designed with a metal or wooden frame at the top closure, giving it structure and elegance, some with a detachable chain strap.

Most often worn as a clutch for evening parties or other formal occasions.

Occasions: party, wedding, formal

13. Waist Bag/Belt Bag/Fanny Pack/Bum Bag

Waist bag, one type of handbags

A waist bag is a small bag worn around the waist with a belt. Also known as a bum bag, belt bag, or fanny pack.

Occasions: travel, hiking, sport

14. Evening Bag

Evening bag, one type of handbags

Evening bags specifically refer to small handbags with decorative functions that women use at parties or dinners.

Evening bags are often stuffed with colored gemstones, diamonds, pearls, and sequins for a regal look that will match your dress.

Occasions: party, wedding, cocktail, formal event

15. Basket Bag/Beach Bag

Basket beach bag, one type of handbags

Basket bags are woven from rattan, straw, raffia, or wicker, and decorated with beads, tassels, and shells. We also call them beach bags.

It’s the perfect style for beach vacations to carry swimsuits, towels, and sunscreen cosmetics.

Occasions: beach, vocation

16. Wallet

Wallet, one type of handbags

A wallet is a foldable mini bag for storing cash, ID, and bank cards, without a handle or shoulder strap, and is generally used with a handbag rather than by itself.

Occasions: work, shopping, travel


By now, you’ve learned about the most common types of bags. When buying a handbag, please consider its purpose, size, and function first.

If you are a handbag designer, when designing a handbag, in addition to considering its use, size, and function, you should also consider how to match hardware accessories to make your design more popular in the market.

For more knowledge about handbag hardware, please read our article Handbag Hardware Names.

We are Uncle Nine Leather, a leading handbag company in China, with rich experience in the handbag field, can provide you with professional service.

If you want to wholesale or customize any type of handbag, we can provide you with one-stop design, development, search, production, and shipping services. Please feel free to contact us.


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