These Are the Only 5 Handbags You’ll Ever Need

The Only 4 Handbags You Need

Deciding on a handbag to invest in can be harder than it sounds. Not only are there hundreds of different styles on offer (most available in several colours), but ‘It bag’ trends cycle faster than a Peloton cardio class.

Whether you’re considering splashing out on a designer bag or are in the market for a more affordable option, it pays to consider a classic style. No matter how much you’re spending, a bag that surpasses one-season wonder status is what you want – a timeless handbag will not only tote your essentials but elevate your outfit, too. As with the rest of your wardrobe, curating an edit of handbags will ensure you’re covered for all occasions. What’s more, you only need five bags to form a complete handbag capsule wardrobe.

Investing in these handbags will save you time and money in the long run, as well as make your wardrobe more sustainable (because you’ll wear them on repeat). For maximum versatility, forego trendy bags for classic styles that are devoid of – or very light on – logos and branding. You’ll want to keep an eye out for high-quality fabrications, timeless silhouettes, a neutral colour palette and, importantly, good workmanship.

Keep reading to discover the only 5 bags you’ll ever need. (Anything else in your collection is a bonus.) 

The tote bag

What is it: An incredibly useful – and generally very roomy – bag with a single carry space (read: no pockets).

Where to: The tote bag is a no-brainer for any time you need to carry more than just the essentials. A classic tote bag makes a great work bag – especially if you take your laptop to and fro – or gym carryall. Totes also shine as baby bags because they’re spacious enough to hold everything from nappies to snacks. Try a mini version for taking on everyday errands or supersize your tote when travelling to maximise your carry-on.

Try: Rylan Large Tote

The shoulder bag

What is it: A handbag with at least one attached strap that can be worn looped over your shoulder.

Where to: Carry a shoulder bag anywhere you don’t need to take much more than a wallet and phone along with you. (Think: out for brunch, a dinner date or a day of shopping.) The baguette bag – a Fendi-inspired style so named because it sits comfortably under your arm the way a baguette might – is a super-versatile shoulder bag option. Local label Rylan’s version also doubles as an evening clutch if you unbuckle the strap.

Try: Rylan Soft Baguette Bag.

The only 5 handbags you need

The cross-body bag

What is it: A handbag with a shoulder strap long enough to be worn diagonally across your body.

Where to: Cross-body bags are the perfect go-to bag when you need to be hands-free. (It follows that they make great mum and baby bags.) It can sometimes be hard to know whether a bag has a cross-body strap just by looking at it – top handle bags and totes often have them tucked away inside. A cross-body bag with multiple options for wear is a great first bag as you’ll be able to tote it everywhere, from the office to a bar.

Try: Rylan Mini Satchel With Flat Handle.

The clutch

What is it: A slim or small handbag without handles or a strap. This category also includes micro bags.

Where to: Clutch bags are typically teensy compared to a regular handbag, only fitting the essentials – your phone, important cards and perhaps a lipstick or two. They’re most often used for more formal events like weddings or cocktail parties but can also be taken out for nicer daytime events like a fancy lunch. While typically strapless, some options come with fine detachable straps, chains or flat handles for added flexibility.

Try: Rylan Mini Satchel With Flat Handle.

The basket bag

What is it: Also called ‘woven bags’, these vintage-inspired styles are made from wicker, straw or palm.

Where to: A summer essential, basket bags arguably do their best work at the beach. If you’re planning to use yours for carrying beach towels or groceries, look for a generous-sized market basket with sturdy leather straps. If long lunching with friends is more your speed, you might prefer a more delicate design. Either way, they’re an instant way to channel French girl style – their effortless vibe makes them a wardrobe essential.

Try: The UNDONE Mini Basket Bag.

Shop our curated collection of timeless bags here.

The only 5 handbags you need

Read next: Mastering Elevated Workwear With Kate Bucceri

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