Whether you wear your handbag as a personal statement, a fashion accessory or a status symbol, handbags are vital for making you feel safe and secure and special. The right handbag will help prepare you with ammunition for any circumstance or climate you might find yourself in. Handbags are where style and utility are perfectly paired, whether your bag is a Hermès or Juicy Couture or made from Harris tweed, straw, satin, leather or canvas. To help you learn more about what makes handbags tick, here’s a brief primer of handbag terms and tips for caring for your special bag:
Basket — open or closed top with the body made from woven wicker or straw; Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer, sells the “Iringa” basket bag, which is made in Tanzania, for just $59.
Birkin — a Hermès classic double-handled leather style named after actress and singer Jane Birkin The style was created in 1984 and it’s similar to Hermès’ Kelly bag, which is named after the famous actress and princess. You can tell the difference between the two by looking at the handles — the Kelly bag has a single handle, whereas the Birkin style has two. There’s no need to splash out $100,000 for this style, however, when retailers carry less expensive lookalikes starting at $149.99.
Box — a square or rectangular-shaped handbag with four hard corners; definitely a vintage style
Bucket — a round-bottomed, open-top bag that’s incredibly practical. Zappo’s features dozens of stylish bucket bags starting at $39.99
Clutch — a rectangular handbag without handles that is often used as an evening bag; Foreign Exchange makes distinctive, affordable clutch bags, ranging from $10 to $40
Drawstring — similar in shape to the bucket handbag but with a drawstring closure; Amazon features drawstring bags with prices starting at an incredibly low $1.29
Hobo — a large, soft-fabric bag in a crescent shape with a long shoulder strap; Macy’s carries a wide variety of hobo handbags starting at $33.99
Satchel — a bag with a shoulder strap that is often worn diagonally across the body so that the bag hangs on the opposite hip; Shop4Sparkles makes a $56 satchel bag that resembles one worn by actress Reese Witherspoon.
Tote — an open-topped, sturdy bag with strap-like handles. L.L. Bean‘s boat and tote bags are classic and start at just $21.95.
Wristlet — a small bag with a thin strap that dangles from the wrist; Kohl’s has a sensational collection of wristlets (including Vera Wang styles), with prices starting at $15.20.