These days, it can seem like fashion trends are completely obsolete. While that’s not totally true, the pressure to keep up with the latest “it” bag has certainly relaxed, especially considering we’re spending less time out in the real world. Still, for those few-and-far-between moments spent outside, it’s natural to want to put on real clothes, with real accessories — and an everyday bag that feels “of the moment” is still a wardrobe staple.
Luckily, there’s no need to drop three or four figures on a handbag for it to still feel special; there are plenty of stylish handbags under $100 on the market that toe the line between on-trend and timeless.
We asked five fashion insiders, including The Zoe Report’s senior fashion editor Aemilia Madden and Kylie Nakao, founder and designer of NYC-based jewelry brand Tarin Thomas, for their go-to affordable handbag picks of the season. From a double handle baguette bag that’ll transport you right back to the ’90s to a compact quilted mini bag that’ll keep your hands free, find the best affordable handbags of the season ahead.
Mango Double Handle Baguette Bag ($39.99; mango.com)
“This long-handled baguette feels super elegant and cool — a twist on the classic ’90s silhouette,” says Madden.
Floral Beaded Mini Bag ($49.99; mango.com)
“This petite beaded bag is an instant mood booster,” says Madden, who adds, “I love the idea of adding color to a more neutral outfit with a bright accessory.”
House of Want We Fashion Small Shoulder Bag ($98; bloomingdales.com)
This ’90s-inspired shoulder bag boasts an acetate chain strap, a big spring 2021 trend, according to our insiders.
Aqua Large Woven Tote ($78; bloomingdales.com)
“Aqua’s woven leather tote bag is a spin on Bottega Veneta’s Flower Basket tote (and it’s a Bloomies exclusive),” says Naer.
Arizona Love Two-Tone Bag ($88; farfetch.com)
“Heading into spring, I love the pop of color this classic yet fun tote bag brings,” Nakao says.
Urban Outfitters Luna Baguette Bag ($44; urbanoutfitters.com)
Nakao says this cow print bag is a bold addition to any outfit. Style it with a classic moto jacket and a maxi dress in another fun clashing print.
Who What Wear Kory Faux Leather Tote ($100; nordstrom.com)
Nakao says this is “a great everyday bag that I can toss all my essentials into while still looking elevated and chic with the rich brown embossed finish.”
Marc Jacobs The Magda Clutch ($95; farfetch.com)
“To get a bit meta, this smaller bag would be the ideal pick for keeping small items in order,” says Madden, who notes that she’d throw this one inside a larger tote, like the Clare V style above, to keep things “streamlined and simple.”
Daily Paper Kofi Mini Bag ($96; farfetch.com)
“This bag by Daily Paper allows shoppers to embrace the baguette trend from the early ’00s in a way that feels fresh for the new season,” says Shelby Hyde, contributing fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar. Gale says she loves the way this bag would look when paired with an all-white look.
Nunoo Helena Bag ($88.90, originally $127; shopbop.com)
“One of my favorite things about Nunoo’s Helena bag is that it’s as practical as it is chic,” says Hyde. “The multicompartment design really makes up for in space what it lacks in size.”
Longchamp Le Pliage Filet Knit Shoulder Bag ($95; nordstrom.com)
“Fans of Longchamp’s nylon totes will love the netted style just as much,” says Hyde, who says this is the perfect tote for weekend runs to the farmers market.
Clare V. Petite Sandy Tote ($99; shopbop.com)
Madden calls this woven bag a perfect alternative to the traditional tote. “I’d skip putting anything too tiny inside (I’m sure my keys would fall through), but it’s perfect for a beach day or my grocery shopping,” she says.
Topshop Weave Faux Leather Tote ($40.20, originally $60; nordstrom.com)
“As someone who primarily wears a lot of neutrals, this bag by Topshop is a great way to slowly introduce [green] into my wardrobe,” says Hyde, who notes that the shade is arguably one of the most popular color trends of the season.
Mango Oval Handbag ($49.99; mango.com)
“It’s the oval shape and wine color of this bag for me,” says Ryan Gale, a freelance stylist and founder of By Colby, a curation of vintage clothing. “Give a complete chic look with distressed denim, a vintage T-shirt and mules.”
H&M Straw Shopper ($24.99; hm.com)
Straw totes don’t just belong at the beach. This pick from H&M is the perfect replacement for your everyday bag, according to our experts.
A.W.A.K.E. Mode Femke Quilted Mini Bag ($98, originally $245; farfetch.com)
“I’m done holding drinks of any kind. I’ll let this mini bag from A.W.A.K.E. do all the carrying for me,” says Gale.
H&M Belt Bag ($17.99; hm.com)
A belt bag is the ultimate ‘90s throwback, and this $20 version from H&M is the perfect low-stakes pick to try out the trend.
Mango Pleated Bucket Bag ($59.99; mango.com)
This pleated bucket bag is the perfect addition to any minimalist outfit, according to our insiders.