The term “accessory” feels like an understatement for the workhorse that is the handbag. Could a pair of earrings keep your phone dry? Could a scarf hold your credit cards?
And yet, we understand the urge to bundle handbags with jewelry and other adornments: they’re as useful for zhuzh as they are for keeping it down. Here are 14 of our favorites.
The baguette (of the Fendi kind, not the French one) made its debut sex and the city back in the late 90s, when Sarah Jessica Parker rocked the petite, strappy style into the annals of fashion history. Always on trend, House of Want updates the now classic with a nifty strap that’s a half-tortoiseshell chain, keeping the lemon-yellow vegan leather gingham crisper than soft.
Ampersand as Apostrophe may be based in Manhattan’s Garment District, but Seattle (and Seattle Met) can still lay claim to the line of sophisticated shopping bags in soft leather: “Le [now former] fashion editor at Seattle metropolis magazine, Laura Cassidy, stopped me on the street and begged me to make one for her,” said designer Sarah Park written for Weather in 2017. “Four hours later, I decided to launch the brand.”
For the utilitarian who moonlights as an aesthete, this perfectly tiny shoulder bag sewn by Industrial District secures your bare essentials in ballistic nylon or Tom Bihn’s exclusive ultra-durable halcyon material, depending on the 23 colorways that you choose. Use it as an interior organization compartment on days when you need a bigger bag.
Look to Nordstrom Rack for an understated way, both visually and financially, to embrace the bucket bag trend. Montreal-based Matt and Nat brings the traditional quality of leather to its vegan, recycled plastic version of the material (a change from fast fashion’s vegan leather bags, which are far worse for the planet than their modifier to herbal does not imply). A drawstring closure keeps your belongings secure and avoids taking the style too literally.
Coated linen offers a stylish alternative to leather that refuses to pretend to be something it isn’t. In a shimmering lilac that barely recalls Jack Gomme’s origins in 1980s France, accented by contrasting earthy-tanned vegetable-tanned leather, this roomy tote walks the line between ritz and glitz.
The Moon Bag that lives up to its name broke the internet when it launched in 2019, and in the years since – with all its ups and downs – it has proven to be one of our only pre-pandemic habits with stamina. The lunar form is still hot in 2022, with Anthropology and Kate Spade make solid performances. But nothing beats the original.
All the bags in the world, and sometimes all you really need is a classic tote to get the job done. This pack of converted water bottles from Seattle athletics company Girlfriend Collective adds structure and handy compartments (including one for your water bottle – surely reusable, yes?), while the straps so encourage subliminally the spectators to recycle. The girlfriend is not a hypocrite: Send in your beloved tote for store credit once you are done.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Reinvent the handbag: This two-tone leather number from Portland-based designer Monica Caon offers the utility and style of two handbags in one, with two adjoining compartments, two double-sided handles (plus a chain in metal included) and double takes a lot.
We’d be remiss not to include a truly luxurious handbag on our list of the greatest. The 56-year-old Italian fashion house shrugs off the aggressive labeling tendencies of its lesser counterparts and focuses on impeccable craftsmanship, quality leather and modern silhouettes and colorways – this puffy quilted version looks distinctly 2022, but was designed to last forever.
If this Seattle-based, black-owned handbag brand doesn’t boost your hometown pride, we don’t know what will. Nuciano’s unique designs, like the incredibly roomy, suede-lined Jemma, push the boundaries with the best of them (without wiping out your wallet with the best of them, too).
Love the plaid print, but worried about sinking over $300 into what could turn out to be a fad? This tan and cream structured leather shoulder bag from Alohas offers a subtle and timeless look. Because we play chess, not… well, you know.
Music festivals are in full swing. It’s time to find a handbag that won’t. Fanny packs, so named despite the current propensity to tie them diagonally around the chest, keep things secure for you to enjoy. With a high-quality leather exterior and a strap long enough to convert it into a shoulder bag for less flashy business, Primecut has designed a bag versatile enough to withstand whatever this “return to normal” actually looks like.