The world of handbags is vast and ever growing; with each new season bringing with it new shapes and styles, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Whether you've got a huge collection or just want to get started, you might be wondering which one is right for you, where to carry it, and what it even looks like. That’s why this JCPenney guide is here to help you keep track of all the essential handbags you need in your wardrobe.


A tote bag is one of the simplest and most adaptable casual bags around. It's a simple one-piece bag that typically has a pocketed back that's large enough to hold all your daily things while running errands. It's usually made of canvas or leather, so it's a must-have when you're commuting to work or going into town. It's also a great way to say "no" to plastic bags when shopping!


On the opposite end of the spectrum is a clutch bag. It is typically small and dainty, with no strap (or a removeable strap) attached to the top. A popular choice for formal events and parties, they generally have enough space for your phone, wallet, and lipstick, they are perfect for dressier events where you don't want to take away from your outfit with a bulky bag. While a sequined, beaded clutch is perfect for a ball or wedding, a more low-key design can be carried to happy hour or a date night.


It’s the minimalist’s go-to accessory. It’s small, discreet, and the perfect size to hold cards, lipsticks, and keys. In fact, some wristlets are designed to fit specific smartphones. When you don’t want to be weighed down with non-essential items, like when you’re out and about on a quick errand, out for a late night, or at a weekend festival, just loop one ‘round your wrist’.

Shoulder Bag

Shoulder bags are one of the most traditional and timeless handbags. They are perfect for day to night wear. A shorter strap allows them to sit under your arm instead of hanging down, giving the shoulder bag a luxury feel while still being comfortable to wear. There is a wide range of shoulder bags available in different sizes from mini to bigger, making it easy to pair with different outfits.

Camera Bag

Camera bags are a new trend, and with good reason. Drawing inspiration from the old leather camera case, camera bags take on a solid rectangular shape with rounded corners, just like a camera case. Camera bags are designed with a long strap, which can be lengthened or shortened depending on the occasion, but they’re mostly worn across the body. Whether you’re slipping them over your thick winter coat or opting for a more toned-down option for a girls’ night out, a camera bag is versatile enough to hold all your essentials.

Belt Bag

A belt bag is a great accessory for when you want to have both your hands free, and they don’t look the same old-school fanny packs that your parents might have worn back in the day. These bags have become a staple for streetwear and sport-luxe style, thanks to their versatility. They are commonly made with clear plastic that’s perfect for public events with bag checks, or colorful nylon to accessorize with your athletic attire. You can even find some belt bags with vibrant prints or brand logos, such as PUMA or Champion, and extra shoulder straps for easier wearing.

Crossbody Bag

A crossbody bag is similar to a shoulder bag in that it has a long strap that is worn across the body. It is also called a single-strap bag because of the way it is worn. Crossbody bags are usually on the smaller side compared to larger handbags, but they feature enough space to hold your items, making them the ideal choice for a daily wear. This style of handbag is quite versatile and can be picked in a variety of shapes, colors, and fabrics to match any look.


These medium-sized handbags are typically carried with two short handles but can sometimes have a longer shoulder strap for ease of carrying. They look like a soft-sided briefcase that is usually big enough to hold books, magazines, and laptops. Satchels are perfect accessories to complete your college or corporate look.

Bucket Bag

As the name suggests, bucket bags are cylindrical in shape, giving them plenty of space to store all your stuff, phone charger, and more. A nice alternative to tote bags, bucket bags have a clear vintage vibe, reminiscent of Jane Birkin's signature basket or the shopping bags she wore in Paris in the 1970s. More laid back than many other handbags styles, bucket bags are the perfect choice if you are looking for a laid-back luxury accessory style.

Hobo Bag

This large, low-cut, crescent bag is more charming than its name suggests. It’s a classic, trend-led handbag that’s perfect for weekend brunches, road trips, or a night out with the besties. It looks good and can be effortlessly paired with any casual outfit. Some hobo bag designs are a bit more structured, keeping the soft, crescent shape with minimal fabric, while others have different zipper compartments to keep your things organized.

When shopping handbags, remember that quality matters. So, be mindful of the following details:
  • All stitching inside and outside the bag should be symmetrical and consistent. Stitching that is consistent across shows that the handbag has been thoughtfully constructed and won't fall apart.
  • Check the hardware—clasps, zippers, feet, and parts of the handle. The clasps should be hassle-free, zippers should glide with ease, feet should feel secure, and metal should be free of chips or tarnish.
  • If you do purchase a leather bag, remember that leather is an investment material that requires extra care and upkeep to extend the life of the bag.
From classic silhouettes to avant-garde creations, the world of handbags is as diverse as it is dynamic. By exploring this guide, we've gained valuable insights into the craftsmanship, functionality, and enduring appeal of these fashion accessories. Whether you're drawn to practical totes, sleek clutches, or statement-making satchels, reach for these online at JCPenney today!