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A purse, also known as a handbag, is a bag used to carry money, wallets, phones, and other daily essentials. Purses often feature a long strap or handle that you can rest on your shoulder or hold in your hand. You can use handbags for the function of transporting personal essentials or as a fashion statement. Some purses feature interior or exterior compartments that zip or button to allow the wearer to secure items like lip balm, keys, or money.

The word “purse” previously only referred to small bags designed for carrying cash but is now often used interchangeably with “handbag,” which typically refers to larger bags for carrying everyday items. Purses are available in various materials and styles, including satchels, messenger bags, casual backpacks, belt bags, and tote bags.

Here are some of the most popular types of purses and the with which they work best:

Backpack purse:

A backpack purse is a small bag with two shoulder straps. Smaller than a standard backpack, the backpack purse still hearkens back to the traditional school bag, making it a younger and more casual look great for everyday wear but too informal for business casual or semi-formal dress codes.

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Barrel bag:

A barrel bag is a cylindrical bag with two short straps for hand-carrying and sometimes a shoulder strap for over-the-shoulder use. Slightly more structured than a duffel bag, the barrel bag offers a little more formality when traveling but is not casual enough for use as an everyday bag.

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Basket bag:

A basket bag is made of thin pieces of wood or wicker woven together into an enclosed shape, usually with a knob or latch to open and close the top and a short handle or two. Basket bags are a fun, whimsical addition to a dressy casual outfit.

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Crossbody purse:

A crossbody purse is one of the most popular and versatile handbags. The purse features a long shoulder strap that you can wear over your shoulder or across your body (hence its name). There are various types of crossbody bags, including the saddlebag (a horseshoe-shaped bag with a flap cover) and bucket bag. Crossbody bags pair well with casual, dressy casual, or business casual attire. This bag type is too casual for formal events and occasions.

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A clutch is a small, thin bag without a handle that the wearer “clutches” to transport. A clutch bag is the go-to purse for formal occasions, from cocktail to black tie to white tie, and comes in a variety of different styles (including the classic envelope clutch). Larger clutches can also accommodate laptops, making them a good option for a laptop bag for work attire.

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Messenger bag:

A messenger bag is a rectangular bag that usually features a flap that fastens over the top and a long shoulder strap to carry over one shoulder or across the body. This bag was designed for couriers to use in the transportation of bulky goods, but they have become a staple accessory in a casual fashion. Messenger bags are great for business casual use (to carry laptops and work essentials).

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Tote bag:

A tote bag is almost identical to a slouchy bag in form but is usually made out of thinner canvas or cloth material. Totes are a casual bag commonly used for shopping and running errands.

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A satchel is a close cousin to the messenger bag that features a long shoulder strap and a flap that fastens over the top. However, a satchel is usually thinner and less structured than a traditional messenger bag. Satchels are a popular choice for casual errands and business casual attire.

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