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A complete guide to bags

Handbags are not only practical, but also fashionable and a nice accent to any outfit.

Handbags are the one accessory that has a practical function in addition to polishing off an outfit. So making sure you select the right type of bag for your lifestyle and personal style is quite crucial.

Plus, bags are accessories that are meant to be splurged on - but not mindlessly of course. Invest in timeless pieces that last for years and years. The right bag is guaranteed to save you time and money.

Evening bags

Wristlet

Wristlet Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

Also known as a Pouch or Pochette in French, a wristlet is a small bag shaped like a clutch. It usually has a long handle or strap to wrap around the wrist.

The wristlet is often confused for a clutch, but it's a bag in its own right, which evolved out of the clutch. While both types of bags are small and used for carrying essential items such as mobile phones and keys, the wristlet has a strap meant for dangling from the wrist.

Minaudière

A minaudière is a hard case in an oblong shape. It is small enough to be held within a hand, yet it may contain several small compartments inside for storing small essentials such as makeup, glasses, or keys.

Intended as evening bag, the minaudière appeared in the 1930s and its design is attributed to Charles Arpels, of Van Cleef & Arpels, a French luxury jewellery company.

The materials used to make this type of bag are most frequently rigid, with a metallic finish or metal plated. Miniaudières may be detailed with beads or crystals, or decorated with lacquer.

Some minaudières include a chain to place over the wrist. Other designs have a satin or velour pouch to hold the minaudière.

Clutch

A clutch is a small but long (rectangular-shaped) bag without a handle. Designed to be held in the hand, some clutches come with a strap to carry the bag on the shoulder.

Clutches come in a variety of styles and shapes, not just the classic rectangular one. You will also find rounded versions. Whatever the style, a clutch will lend a chic and a sophisticated touch to your outfit.

It used to be worn exclusively to special occasions, but nowadays a clutch can be carried at any time of day, whether in the morning or at an evening get-together with friends. Though originally an evening bag, clutches also come in larger sizes, perfect for office wear.

Envelope Clutch

Envelope Clutch Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

A specific type of clutch bag, the envelope clutch is similar in appearance to the classic clutch. It is a flat, usually rectangular bag - but with a triangular flap top, which makes it look like an envelope.

Frame Bag

Frame Bag 2 Accessories - the concept wardrobe

The frame bag is quite rigid, rectangular shaped, and similar to a money purse. A long metal part supports the textile or leather of the bag like a frame. It often comes with a kissing lock closure - two interlocking metal beads set on top of the frame, and has a long metal shoulder strap.

This type of bag is a classic evening bag and due to its vintage design is perfect for polishing off any retro outfit.

Day to night bags

Micro Bag

Micro Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

The micro bag is the smallest bag available. If you’re happy with just fitting your wallet, keys, and perhaps a lipstick (most likely not a phone though), then a micro bag is ideal.This kind of bag is more of a statement piece than a practical bag.

That's why you can easily wear it in a bright colour, and even a playful motif.Many micro bags are also simply smaller versions of bigger-sized bags.

The micro bag is a great office-to-evening option, and you can just pop it into your larger tote bag and take it out when required.

Cross Body Bag

Crossbody Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

The cross body bag has an extra long strap for looping it over one shoulder, and across the body. The bag rests on the waist or hip.

Cross body bags are the best combination of stylish and practical - keeping your hands free while you're out doing your errands. But not only can they do daytime, cross body bags also double up as evening bags - depending on the style. With an endless variety of sizes, colours, and materials available, finding the right bag is not that hard.

A mini cross body bag is great for carrying a few essentials and as evening bag. Oversized cross body bags, on the other hand, can hold a lot more, but are for daytime only.

Flap Bag

Flap Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

The flap bag is named after the folding flap closure placed on the front of the bag.

It was invented by Coco Chanel and the Chanel flap bag has been a classic and timeless handbag since. Inspired by military satchels worn in the 1920s, the Chanel Flap Bag revolutionised the handbag industry as a bag that was both chic and easily carried.

Flap bags are now also featured in other designers' collections and are available in a variety of styles and colours.

Quilted Bag

Quilted Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

Quilted bags feature a topstitched pattern similar to a quilt.

The quilted chain bag has long been an iconic accessory and wardrobe staple. Its chic, geometric finish plus its ability to transition seamlessly from day to night is one of the many reasons these designs will never go out of style.

Bucket Bag

Bucket Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

Bucket bags are roomy and shaped like a bucket. They usually have an open top with a drawstring closure, and either a shoulder strap or a handle.

Thanks to their popularity, bucket bags are made in a wide array of materials and styles. Some bucket bags don’t necessarily look like buckets. They will, however, have a flat bottom that is round or oval in shape, which allows the bag to sit upright without falling over and spilling its contents.

This type of bag is a statement piece. Whether for a casual weekend or an evening, a bucket bag will stand out from your outfit. Large bucket bags cab hold all of your essentials, whereas a mini bucket bag is a nice twist on the classic evening bag.

Box Bag

Box Bag - the concept wardrobe

Another daytime-to-evening bag, the box bag is similar in shape to a bucket bag but with more structure. It looks - as its name suggests - like a box, with a handle on top, and sometimes also with a shoulder strap.

The box bag is a classic design and reminiscent of luxurious leather trunks once used for travelling. The bag itself dates back to the 1950s, but the most iconic box bag is the Mark Cross design worn by Grace Kelly in Rear Window.

Incredibly elegant, box bags can be found in a variety of colours and even exotic prints, such as python and ostrich. If you like a classic style and you’re usually attending meetings, dinner and drinks all in the same day, this might be the bag for you.

Saddle Bag

Saddle Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

Originally a bag hung over a saddle for riding, the saddle bag is now an everyday handbag. The classic equestrian-style shape consists of a rounded bottom with a top flap that comes over the top of the bag, and a shoulder strap.The saddle bag is typically a shoulder or crossbody bag, and made out of leather. It is a medium-sized bag great for everyday use and can also transform into a (not too formal) evening bag.

Everyday bags

Baguette Bag

Baguette Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

The baguette (bag) is a small handbag that is relatively long from side to side but small from top to bottom. It has a short strap to be carried in hand or over the shoulder.Designed by Fendi in 1997, and popularised by its exposure on the TV series Sex and the City, the baguette was very popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, often cited as the first "It" bag.

Although the baguette does not fit much more than everyday essentials, it is the perfect bag for when you don't have much to carry.

Canteen Bag

Canteen Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

Originally designed with spouts at the top and used to carry drinking water, modern canteen bags are the perfect combination of sophisticated and bohemian.

They have an unexpected yet structured, circular shape and a long, multi-functional strap to cross over the body like a cross body bag.

Typically made out of leather, they also come in woven basket form. Canteen bags are great for everyday use.

Hobo Bag

Hobo Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

A hobo bag is a large, shoulder carried bag with a main compartment closure. It is characterised by a crescent shape, a slouchy posture and a long strap designed to wear over the shoulder.It is called hobo bag because it resembles the shape of the bindle on a stick that hobos are portrayed as carrying over their shoulder in illustrations.

Hobo bags are made out of soft, flexible materials (mainly leather) and tend to slouch when set down. These handbags are casual but stylish, and go well with relaxed, everyday outfits - although more sophisticated styles for office wear are also available.

Doctor Bag

Doctor Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

Flat-bottomed with rounded sides, slightly elongated and with two large handles over a collapsible metal frame, the doctor bag is named after the medical bag it resembles.

Trapeze Bag

Trapeze Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

The trapeze bag is characterised by two flared gussets at either side of the bag and a flap front. It was invented by French luxury company Céline.

The Céline Trapeze is one of the most famous pieces from the eponymous line. It is now discontinued but second-hand bags are still available. The bag was produced in multiple colours and materials.

Although it was never Céline’s biggest success story during its heyday, the trapeze bag has enjoyed sustained popularity for years.

Bowling Bag

Bowler Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

Typically crafted from leather to give it stability, the bowling bag emerged in the 1920s, originally to carry the heavy bowling balls to the lanes.

Soon moving into the fashion world, the bowling bag is an oblong, roundish, medium-sized bag, with top handles, and often with a removable strap to be worn around the body.

Messenger Bag

Messenger Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

A messenger bag has a long strap to be worn across the body and is meant to be worn against the lower back, then pulled around to the side or front to access the contents of the bag.

This makes them ideal for wearing while walking or riding a bike - in fact this is where they originated, from their use by bike couriers. Buckles, clasps, and zippers are commonly used to protect the contents.

Traditionally, a messenger bag will have a weather-proof exterior such as waxed canvas, but they can also be found in leather.

Satchel

Satchel Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

A satchel has a flat bottom and the back extends to form a flap that folds over to cover the top and fastens in the front. It may come with a top carry handle, and always has a strap that is worn so that it diagonally crosses the body, with the bag hanging on the opposite hip, rather than hanging directly down from the shoulder.

A centuries-old accessory of English students, satchels are traditionally used for carrying books. But unlike a briefcase, a satchel is soft-sided. This is the perfect bag for carrying heavier items.

Shopper Bag

Shopper Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

The shopper bag is a rectangular, single-handled bag without any fastenings. Due to its characteristics, it is ideal for shopping - hence its name.

Shoppers are mainly made out of heavy canvas, dyed, or treated to resist moisture and mould. They may also be made out of jute, heavy nylon and other easy-care synthetics, although these are not as durable as canvas.

Easily foldable, and very lightweight, this is the perfect bag for your grocery shopping.

Tote Bag

Tote Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

A tote bag is a large, spacious and often unfastened bag with double handles that emerge from the sides of its pouch.

The modern tote bag emerged from the original canvas shopper bag into a large leather bag. It may come with fastenings or may be open, but nowadays tote simply refers to a large leather bag.

An easy bag for everyday wear, a tote is both appropriate for a long day at the office and after-work drinks. It can be styled in many different ways. And made for tucking under an arm, a tote is convenient to carry if you’ll be walking around, or carrying multiple items at the same time.

Sport & travel bags

Backpack

Backpack Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

Also known as rucksack, a backpack lies across the back and is supported by the shoulders with double handles. In its most basic form, this bag is essentially a cloth sack carried on one's back and secured with two straps that go over the shoulders.

Ideal for outdoor activities - such as hiking, and travelling, a backpack is spacious, practical (hands-free) and great for carrying heavy items as it rests comfortably against the back.

Because backpacks are much better for your posture than bags carried on one side of your body, they have increased in popularity these days. It also helped that backpacks are now available not only in sporty designs but in lots of other styles - such as chic, elegant and boho styles. It is now even acceptable to wear a backpack to the office.

Barrel Bag

Barrel Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

A barrel bag is a larger bag cylindrically shaped in the form of a barrel that fastens using pull strings at the top. Often it has one thick shoulder-length strap to carry it.Barrel bags are normally made of canvas and are often used for travel or sports activities to carry numerous objects.

Weekend Bag

Weekend Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

A “weekender” - or weekend bag, is a a travel bag spacious enough to fit everything needed for a long weekend trip. It's a roughly rectangular, soft-sided bag that unzips across the top, and usually features both a (removable) shoulder strap and a handle.

This style of overnight bag is a step up from a backpack in terms of both capacity and style. A true weekend bag qualifies as carry-on luggage for commercial flights. If the bag is bigger than that it is no longer a weekend bag.

Weekend bags are typically made of ballistic nylon, canvas, leather, or some combination of these. They come in various styles - such as in plain, dark colours with minimal contrast or in more sporty style (dark cloth with light-coloured leather, or vice-versa).

Duffel Bag / Seabag

Duffel Bag Accessories - the concept wardrobe

A duffel (or duffle) bag is a very large bag, usually meant for travel or sports gear. It is named after a town in Belgium, where the thick duffel cloth which is used to make the bag originated in the 17th century. Since duffel bags are also frequently used by sailors, they are also known as seabags.

Though similar in appearance to a weekend bag, a duffel bag is bigger than a true weekender and won't be allowed on commercial flights as carry-on luggage. In addition, duffle bags often have a sportier look than weekenders. Duffel bags are great for carrying heavy items.

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