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Women’s Handbag Shapes

by , April 16, 2012

Women’s Handbag Shapes

So this post is probably a little overdue. We covered off backpacks and wallets a while ago and in throwing around ideas for new posts, we decided we should go ahead and leap into the world of women’s handbags….yep, you read it right, women’s handbags. Think of it as a ‘bags 101’ of sorts.

Our little guide is a good start but by no means is it the absolute definitive guide to women’s handbags. It should help explain the basics in terms of shape and function, and hopefully by the end of the post you’ll understand what makes a hobo different to a tote. 😉

Make sure you take a peek at the infographic too… and if you want to view it in a higher res, click on click on

Small clutch bag with a bracelet-type strap, to be carried hanging from the wrist – it’s a wallet alternative and as such can only deal with the absolute of absolute essentials (!) Can double as a cosmetics bag also.

The Sway Wristlet

A flat rectangular bag, with a triangle shaped ‘flap’ top closure, and minimal pocketing. Designed to resemble an envelope when closed and made to carry absolute essentials only (wallet, keys, phone, lip gloss, tampons). It’s a clutch style without the structure – perfect for a night out or a day at the races.

Anthropologie Envelope

Typically structured and rectangular in shape, no shoulder strap, minimal pocketing and made to carry essentials only (wallet, keys, phone, lip gloss, tampons). Great for a night out, these bags don’t detract from your outfit but having to carry it in your hand can feel a little clumsy.

Elvis and Kresse Clutch

It’s an evolution of the clutch but with a long adjustable strap. Designed to be worn across the body to sit just on the hip and so named because if you’re female and you love going to festivals – you have one of these bags! There is no one defining shape but these bags generally feature a secure closure and some internal pocketing/compartment(s) as they are often used as a wallet alternative.

Nancy Bird Festival

Modelled after bags made to fit bowling balls, features include a barrel-like shape; internal pocketing, a structured base and twin grab handles. Depending on size, these bags can be used during the day or as a weekender. The shape can feel a touch sporty or somehow retro so they’re probably more dress-up party than every day carry.

ASOS Bowler

A structured bag usually with twin grab handles, rounded sides and a feature closure with some internal pocketing/compartment(s). Designed with a thin wire frame at the mouth of the bag to provide easy access to contents. As the name suggests, this style of bag was modelled after bags a doctor would use to carry medical supplies – it’s a classically elegant shape, appealing to those with more conservative taste.

Isaac Reina Doctor (scroll halfway across)

Also known as a carryall or shopper – a medium to large bag with twin grab handles and/or shoulder straps, an open top and minimal pocketing. Popularised by the ‘eco friendly’ shopping tote – these bags can deal with pretty much anything and as such are often used for every day carry.

Makr Tote

Large crescent shaped, slouch bag with a single opening – usually a zipper closure, some pocketing and shoulder strap. Every successful bag brand in the world has a hobo in their range. A well made hobo will sit comfortably on your shoulder, fit all of your essentials as well as those critical non-essentials (diary, cosmetics, iPod, camera etc) + they’re totally hot right now (!)

Temono Hobo

Typically a large, slouch shape featuring a circular base that’s longer in height than width. Featuring a single shoulder strap and minimal internal pocketing, this shape can definitely feel more casual depending on the materials used and would suit a day at the beach.

Paul Smith Bucket

Usually rectangular’ish in shape with a single top closure, at least one internal compartment, some pocketing and long adjustable strap. Designed to be worn across the body – a really well executed messenger transitions from a bike ride to the office with ease. Perfect for those who carry tech regularly but don’t want to use a backpack.

Mulberry Messenger

A large cylindrical shaped bag with zipper closure and single shoulder strap and/or twin grab handles. Best suited for use as a gym bag or weekender – materials used can range from a heavy canvas to super soft leather.

Draught Duffle

You might be wondering how a bunch of gentlemen put together such an detailed post on women’s handbags, right? Well, we didn’t; we enlisted the services of a very knowledgeable lady, Stacey. This is her first post on Carryology, and we have more coming for the female Carryology population.


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