Breaking Down the Basic Handbag Styles

Handbags come in every shape and size, and as you probably already know, sometimes all the options can seem a bit overwhelming. To help narrow down the bag of your dreams is getting back to basics and offering up "Handbags 101" an all encompassing explanation of available handbag styles, material types, and hardware choices.

Basic Handbag Styles:

Handbag - Refer generically to the entire category of bags and purses, but more specifically it is a bag with shorter straps meant to be carried in the hand, not on the shoulder. Handbags may come with a detachable shoulder strap.
Purse - Can refer generically to the entire category of bags and purses, but traditionally the term refers to a small bag in which loose change / money can be carried.
Clutch - A woman's strapless purse that is carried in the hand or under the arm.
Wristlets - A clutch-sized bag that has a small looped strap or ring that can be worn around the wrist.
Minaudieres - A small ornamental hard case used for carrying a woman's cosmetics, jewelry, or personal items; commonly carried as an evening clutch for formal events.
Hobo - A deconstructed handbag with a soft shape, that sags in a relaxed fashion when hung from the shoulder.
Tote - Originally inspired by the shopping bag, a tote is a large carry all that usually has two top handles, and is meant to be carried in hand.
Satchel - A luggage inspired handbag with a wide, flat bottom, zippered or clasped top, and two handles.
Messenger, Sling - (also called a courier bag) is a type of sack, usually made out of some kind of cloth (natural or synthetic), that is worn over one shoulder with a strap that winds around the chest resting the bag on the lower back.
Shopping Bag - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reusable shopping bags are usually made out of a synthetic or canvas material and serve as an earth friendly alternative to paper / plastic grocery bags.