This mainstay gets its name from the way it’s worn: slung over one shoulder. It varies in size but is generally large enough to hold all your essentials and then some, making it one of the most functional—and popular—types of handbags. Shoulder bags are ideal for everyday casual and professional situations, so it’s a good idea to get one in a neutral color, probably in genuine or faux leather that can be adapted to different outfits and settings.
This single-strap style is also named for the way it’s worn. Typically smaller than a shoulder bag, the crossbody still allows you to go hands-free. It’s perfect for running errands, social events, travel, and any scenario where you want to keep your essentials on you without being weighed down. Considering it can be worn day or night, this is a great style to stock up on in different shapes, colors, and textiles.
These medium-size handbags are usually carried via two short handles, though sometimes they have a long shoulder strap for easier toting. Handsome and sturdy, they resemble a soft-sided briefcase that’s usually large enough to stash books, magazines, and laptops. Wear one to elevate your on-campus look or keep a corporate outfit chic but practical (think smooth, high-quality leather).
Consider this the answer to your everyday haul. A large, single-compartment bag that usually has no closure, a tote makes it easy to throw items in or take them out while on the move. Though often constructed from a hardy, casual fabric such as canvas or nylon, totes come in many materials and can even be a sophisticated option for the office is structured, high-quality textiles like leather.
These glamorous handhelds are generally evening accessories, though the formality can range from moderate to very upscale. A sequined or beaded clutch is worthy of an extravagant ball or even a wedding, while a low-key design could be carried to happy hour or date night. This smaller style can pack a lot of versatility—some have removable shoulder straps and others even double as wallets.