Handbags come in styles to fit every taste and need, but there's no such thing as one must-have product: even the most invested fashion fans are likely to have different, highly-specific standards when it comes to shopping for designer bags. The way we see it, many factors can go into an ideal purchase: style, functionality, fit, versatility within your existing wardrobe, quality of materials, brand ethos, resale value, and more. Call us high-maintenance, but we expect a beautiful purchase to be worth our hard-earned cash, especially when it's something we plan to wear on our arms for days, months, or years on end.
The good news is that the options have never been better, whether you’re interested in the most popular, of-the-moment designers (New Bottega, anyone?), instantly recognizable classics, or labels that offer a luxe look at more affordable prices. Ahead, find 32 of the best designer bags, so you can find one you'll wear and cherish for a long time to come.
This category of handbags needs no formal introduction. It's easy to recognize one of these from across a room, or maybe even a highway. Just a few of these classics are the Fendi Baguette, Chanel’s 2.55, and Hermès's distinctly refined (and highly-exclusive) Birkin. A newer addition to this category is the Telfar Shopping Bag (also known as the “Bushwick Birkin"), which constantly sells out with every product drop. For any of these styles, don’t forget to check out the resale market for styles that are vintage or not currently available on traditional retail sites.
The crossbody is a designer bag for anyone who needs their hands free at any given moment. After all, how can you hold your reusable coffee cup, swipe a Metro Card, or look up directions in a foreign city when your hands are occupied? Some current favorites include structured styles by Prada and pieces by affordable, celebrity-loved label JW Pei. Plus, out of Brooklyn come two highly functional and sleek brands making handbags that can keep up with folks on the move: Ashya and Creagh.
Totes are the most mysterious and functional style of handbags, especially for those who like to be prepared for anything. The outside world sees the bold prints, sleek minimalism, or an updated eco-friendly design; meanwhile, your snacks, laptop, wallet, sunscreen, and tangle of backup chargers are all at the ready for whatever your day has in store.
Shoulder bags have been some of the most popular styles of late, making a return after their last heyday in the ‘90s. These are a great choice for so many reasons—they’re polished, have structure, and come in so many beautiful colors in addition to timeless neutrals. Look for unique straps, rich textural leather, and Gucci’s new version of the 1961 Jackie bag, named for former First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
The pouch is another trending bag option, and it typically has a soft shape and satin finish. This designer bag is popular in large part for its versatility—it’s perfect for evening looks, but also can dress up jeans and a T-shirt. You'll find so many unique designer approaches to this elegant look, including playful versions with upcycled materials, pieces inspired by traditional Japanese Furoshiki, and satin pouch bags with fringe, among other options.
The bucket bag brings a bit of ‘70s-style nostalgia by way of an elongated shape with ample storage space. Go more literal and opt for a structured, defined bucket shape, or try something a bit more slouchy and boho.
Shop The Look
As our social calendars fill up with reasons to go out in our finest attire, we welcome the excuse to break out the party clutches. Sure, this designer bag style keeps your hands occupied, but it’s worth it when the exterior looks this special. Check out Bottega Veneta for It Bag status, Staud and Cult Gaia for the most unique silhouettes, and Loeffler Randall for sweet fabric use.
While woven textures seem like a summer-specific thing, we’ll argue that basket bags are still a forever item for anyone who aspires to look like Jane Birkin vacationing in Saint Tropez. Today the natural fibers take the shape of effortlessly cool carryalls, charming crossbody bags, and JW Anderson’s iconic logo-covered totes.