Indeed there is merit to a hands-free bag like a crossbody silhouette or fanny pack. But despite the chatter surrounding this utilitarian accessory detail, there’s something to be said about a good old-fashioned handbag carried with—drumroll—your hands. The best top-handle bags span several categories, from petite party purses and charming bucket pails to structured shapes and elegant satchels. The common thread of an upright handle makes the art of carrying your handbag feel intentional and perhaps a bit more fun?
This season, you can expect some standout options in the category. On the summery side of the spectrum, there are woven straw bags crafted with top handles from the likes of Dragon Diffusion and Bembien (the latter being inspired by coastal France). There’s also a crop of artisanal design details making their way forward, with beading, ruching, and macramé, like the crafty pieces spotted on Chloé’s spring 2022 runway. You’ll also have your pick of refreshed classics that check off the “polished style” box quite nicely. Ahead, 48 options to kick start your search.
A structured envelope purse is the bedrock of polished, professional style. Head back into the office with a top-handle bag designed with this elegant closure—bonus points if it has a hint of sleek hardware.
Is there anything better suited for the summer picnic than a bucket bag designed in a round lunch-pail shape? With its built-in top handle, a stroll through the park—arms swinging—feels in order.
The Croc Effect
The clever ingenuity of croc-embossed leather translates to the top-handle silhouette with some of the season’s most charming handbag releases. Reach for brightly-hued versions for a fête-ready staple, or pick a neutral for a pared-back look.
Bold brights can be a good time, but there’s something intrinsically romantic about a powdery pastel. Test drive these desaturated hues with a whimsical handbag crafted in the top-handle silhouette.
An asymmetric handbag is the accessory equivalent of a contemporary sculpture. With its artful lines and unique design, this top-handle bag is the kind of piece that tends to start a conversation.
When it comes to the chain bag, a dainty top-handle detail can balance the boldness of chunky hardware. Go for this option if your wardrobe could use more texture.
Straw bags are the perfect gateway to warmer weather, and because this woven texture works so beautifully with a petite top-handle shape, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the category.
Bamboo handles give off a resort vibe even if you’re not in proximity to a beach, which is reason enough to invest in a top-handle bag with this tropical material. Carry with a linen suit or a floral midi dress; it’s a versatile pick.
The Arts & Crafts
Beading, crochet, and other crafty materials are an easy way to add some personality to your accessory collection. Reach for a top-handle bag with an artisanal, handcrafted quality this season.
Ruched fabrics that resemble the beloved scrunchie feel like fodder for the nostalgic type. Hint at early aughts fashion with a top-handle bag that embraces this design detail.
Suede cut in a ’70s-inspired color palette of camel and burnt orange is the perfect accompaniment to other trends of the season, like prairie dresses and crochet separates.
While the backpack is traditionally worn on—you guessed it—your back, some designers have also incorporated a top handle to give this modern staple a versatile update.
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