Pack a punch: the season’s best handbag styles worth investing in

Irish Tatler’s top picks of the handbag styles that will see you through the season – and well into the next

Street style at Milan Fashion Week autumn-winter 2023 photographed by Vanni Bassetti for WWD on February 23, 2023 in Milan, Italy

“Ludicrously capacious” is the only description of handbag styles we plan on rowing in behind this season. Not least because these were the words of Succession’s Tom Wambsgans’ scathing opinion of a Burberry Vintage check bag – it was mid-sized, for the record – but because these function-first, life-appropriate styles are everywhere, for very solid reasons.

The street styles circles opted for the box and bucket shapes for stylish practicality during February’s fashion month, while Uniqlo’s crossbody bag’s virality says something about what people actually want their handbags to be – purposeful.

We weigh in on the debate with the same sentiment, and below, we have rounded up the top four handbag styles that will see you through the season, and well into the next.

The box bag

Re-editions have notoriously proved a popular move by fashion houses, and this season, Prada’s re-release of a 1995 brushed leather box bag is street style’s favourite pick. Its shape is a classic one, and has defined styles from Chanel (its iconic flap box shoulder bag) and Ferragamo (its Trifolio tote). We like this style for its work-to-life appeal, and if made with a high-grade leather and minded properly, it will last you a lifetime.

A guest is seen wearing a cream coat, cream sweater, and animal print bag outside the Chloe show during Paris Fashion Week autumn-winter 2023 on March 02, 2023 in Paris, France

The crossbody

Last month, Uniqlo’s nylon crossbody bag was named fashion’s hottest product by fashion-tech company and shopping app Lyst. Its sustained virality over the past year is a tell-tale sign of today’s shopper’s desires, with a functional, on-the-go feel defining the style. Brands like COS and Arket have released similar styles, but competing against Unqlo’s €14.90 price point is a hard sell. Still, various styles and sizes have flooded the streets this season, and will certainly do so for the foreseeable.

A guest wears a black high neck long dress, a black shiny high neck puffer jacket, a black nylon crossbody bag, black socks, and black shiny varnished leather loafers from Prada outside Gabriela Hearst, during New York Fashion Week, on February 14, 2023 in New York City

The bucket bag

This enduring style has been given a summer refresh of late, with natural textures like raffia and straw leading the way on the streets. Its roomy size availability makes it a perfect daytime option, while more decorated, drawstring versions have an eveningwear appeal. For a year-round option, try a structural shape in a muted tone – we suggest taking inspiration from the below, and if you decide to hunt one down, Ferragamo’s Trifolio shoulder bucket bag is always a solid investment.

A guest wears a beige long coat, navy blue denim large pants, beige shiny leather ballerina flats, and a green leather bucket bag outside Kate Spade, during New York Fashion Week, on February 10, 2023 in New York City

The stealth wealth bag

This year’s defining fashion moment is quiet luxury, but what does this mean for the handbag department? Minimalist, luxury brands like The Row, Bottega Veneta, and Loro Piana have applied the same quality craftsmanship and design pedigree into their handbags as they do their fashion, so you can expect high-spec, soft and lightly grained leather offerings, with no flashy logos or decorations insight. It's the investment-type bag – i.e. one that you will have forever and appreciates in value, should you wish to part ways. Loro Piana’s Happy Day Sesia Bag is our top pick of the current offerings.

Street style at Milan Fashion Week autumn-winter 2023 photographed by Vanni Bassetti for WWD on February 23, 2023 in Milan, Italy