The Three Types of Handbags Every Woman Needs

This is a topic that came up in the comments of a post last week, and I thought it would make a great blog post. You know I’m always happy to talk handbags!

3 Types of Handbags Every Woman Needs

Back in the day when my blog was still Musings of a Housewife, my tagline was “Powered by Coffee & Handbags.”

Who remembers those days???

I actually had a contest and asked my readers to submit their ideas for my tagline because I was stumped, and that was my favorite out of all the submissions. I guess they knew me pretty well!

But I digress.

While I love to use handbags to accessorize my outfits, many women don’t care to fuss with swapping out their bags several times a week and prefer to have one go-to handbag each season, so let’s discuss the must-have handbags if you want to keep your collection minimal.

I propose three must-have handbags for every woman’s wardrobe. Most sites I read suggested 5 or 6, and that’s more realistic for me, but if you really want to keep things minimal, these are the three styles of handbags I think every woman needs. (Of course, this is general advice; you’ll definitely want to take your lifestyle and personal needs into account.)

#1. Mid-Size or Large Everyday Bag

This could be a tote, satchel, or hobo, but it needs to be very practical. Think about how easy it is to get in and out of, and decide if you want one cavernous hole (that’s what I prefer, lol) or if you want a bag with some dividers for organization. I tend to stay away from a lot of buckles and accoutrements that hinder my access to the contents of my handbag. I like to get in and get out as quickly as possible so I rarely even buy a bag with a zipper. I love those covered magnetic closures. I get almost giddy happy when I discover a handbag that closes with one of those!

While I love to carry a fun color from time to time, I recommend going with a good neutral like taupe or beige if you’re only going to carry one main bag throughout the entire season. It’s a fallacy that black is the most versatile color. Black is heavy and doesn’t work well in the warmer months. You’re much better off going with beige or tan as shown above. Grey is also a nice choice, but I feel like beige is even more versatile.

The shade of beige/grey/tan doesn’t really matter. It’s up to your personal preference and what works best with your wardrobe. I have cool undertones and tend to wear cooler colors so I like my neutrals to have cool undertones as well. Taupe is about as versatile as it gets because it is a mix of tan and grey.

You also want to think about materials. Suede is pretty, but it’s hard to keep clean and shows wear faster than a leather bag. Soft leather scratches faster than the Saffiano leather, but some don’t like the hard surface of Saffiano. A nice pebbled leather is a good compromise, and that’s what I usually end up with.

I strongly encourage you to invest in genuine leather for your go-to handbag, either that or a durable coated canvas. Faux leather shows wear and tear far too easily. You also want a bag with good strong stitching that isn’t going to start coming out and looking tired after a few months. In other words, you may need to spend a little more on your go-to bag, but if you calculate the cost per use, you will get more than your money’s worth out of a quality handbag.

Obviously, every woman should to stay within her budget, but this is the bag I would spend the most on out of the three must-haves in this post. And definitely, DEFINITELY find one on a good sale!


#2. Small to Mid-Size Crossbody

For weekends or events when you want to be hands-free and don’t want to carry a large bag, a decent sized crossbody is a must-have. You want one that at least carries your phone, full-size wallet, lipstick, and compact. Don’t go too-too small with this bag unless you are truly a minimalist and don’t carry much with you. I hate to swap out my wallet so now I only buy crossbody bags that my wallet fits into.

This bag can be a fun color. I love the red one I’ve been featuring a lot lately. Last fall and winter I had a burgundy suede crossbody and a teal leather crossbody. I found myself carrying both a lot. I have a white one that I carry a lot in the summer. If I had to choose just one for all year round, I think I’d go with the red because sometimes you just need a color to jazz up your outfit!

You can certainly spend a lot on this bag if you want, or you can go a little cheaper on this one. You may not use it as much as your everyday bag or you may want to have a couple to choose from or swap out from season to season so I wouldn’t prioritize this purchase as high in my budget.


#3. Clutch

This is your going-out bag, and it can be fun. I love my leopard calf hair foldover clutch, but you certainly don’t need to break the bank for this piece. There are so many fun clutches in various materials for budget-friendly prices. This bag can be a fancy evening clutch if you attend a lot of events, or go for something more whimsical and fun if you live a more casual lifestyle. Again, I like to have several of these in my closet, but it is certainly fine to have just one. If you’re going to have just one, you probably want to stick to a neutral to make sure it goes with everything.


I doubt any of this is ground breaking (ha!) but hopefully it’s helpful on one level or another. While some of the prices in the little shopping widgets look steep, I almost always buy my handbags on sale. Sites like Kate Spade, Tory Burch, and Rebecca Minkoff routinely run 25% – 30% off sales, and sometimes you can get an additional percentage off the sale prices. In fact, my timing is really bad for this post because there were tons of good deals like that last weekend! But there will be more — there always are.

Hint: The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is coming! They always have some great bags at deep discounts — like up to 40% off Tory Burch totes and crossbody bags. So if you’re in the market for one, I highly recommend checking out the #NSale in a few weeks. (I’ll have more about that in tomorrow’s post.)

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