This article is part of the “Bags Series,” which comprises of 2 articles. Read part 2 for more information.

Ah, purses – the most important accessory in a woman’s closet! One just can never have too many types of purses; do not listen to anyone who says otherwise! If you’re a purse hoarder like me, then you know that they are one of your most trusted companions. A purse is not just a purse; it is one of the most functional, hard-working accessories in your closet. Not only is it an essential component of your wardrobe, but it also holds all of our day-to-day items, including valuables, and helps you carry your world wherever you go. It goes without saying that bags are a definite must-have we cannot do without.

However, each season brings a new, trendy take on types of purses with an endless number of options, so it can be very overwhelming to determine which exact pieces are worth the investment and which bags to use for different occasions. The truth is that all you really need are a few types of purses – one of each if you’re keeping it minimal – to have on hand for any occasion.

I’ve narrowed it down to five types of purses that will meet your every need. From the everyday work bag to your date night or evening out bags, these purse types are must-haves to help you pull together a complete and fabulous outfit. They are also a great way to switch things up so that you’re never unprepared for any occasion.

1. Clutch Bag

Clutch Bags types of purses

Teeny tiny but oh-so-elegant – a clutch is a must-have for your wardrobe. Not only is the clutch bag a timeless accessory, but it’s also super convenient to have on hand for those days you don’t feel like lugging around a giant tote bag. It’s the perfect way to lighten up the load. Clutches come in a variety of exotic shapes and sizes, making them excellent novelty bags. Some are even big enough to carry something more than just your driver’s license, lip gloss, and credit card. They are also one of the few handbags that often do not have a strap, since the wearer can usually hold the bag in their hands – hence the name.

While this handbag can be worn with either casual and dress wear, it is most commonly known for formal wear, where it can serve as a delicate and feminizing accent to an already elegant look. It can also be a great medium to express your style in a noticeable way. Even if you’re not one to experiment too much, use your clutch as an opportunity to incorporate bold colors, funky prints, or embellishments that you wouldn’t go with an everyday bag. If you haven’t added the perfect clutch to your collection yet, now is the time.

When to wear a clutch:

Weddings, dinner dates, weekend cocktails, and all sorts of formal functions that require formal dress.

2. Straw Bag

Straw Bags types of purses

Endlessly classic, straw bags have earned a spot on every summer shopping list and with good reason. From rounded to totes to the classic over-sized woven carryalls, there’s a straw bag for any fashion taste and style, and the options are endless. This free-spirited bohemian, summery trend is your go-to summer bag that’s definitely worth investing in. It’s perfect for a casual shopping day, but you can also just fill it up with a towel, your favorite sunglasses, and a bottle of chilled white wine for the beach (or even a beach vacation). Beautifully crafted, it adds an eye-catching element to any outfit and seamlessly transitions from sandy beaches to city life. Pair it with light denim and flowy tops or floral dresses and sneakers. These bags are your best bet and a definite must-have for the summer season!

When to wear a straw bag:

Perfect for travel or daytime occasion – be it a formal luncheon, a beach vacation, or even a picnic.

3. Tote Bag

Tote Bags

For the many women who lead busy lives and need a chic bag that will hold nearly everything, a tote bag is THE essential wardrobe item. It represents that perfectly minimal, sophisticated silhouette that can carry your belongings to and from the grocery store, gym, and office while still looking chic and even transitioning to after-work drinks. The tote bag is the ultimate easy accessory, versatile in both style and practicality, that can be worn with everything from casual to formal looks. There are dozens of beautiful designs made of luxe fabrics or colored in bright hues and prints that are sure to meet your style. Every woman needs a tote bag in her life!

When to wear a tote bag:

Take it to work; carry your books to school; or wear it to the gym, grocery store, or while traveling.

4. Crossbody / Belt / Wristlet Bag

Crossbody, Belt, and Wristlet Bags

Our 4th purse type mainly focuses on keeping your hands free – by that, I mean any type of bag that will not get in the way of a good time. First off, a small crossbody bag can be your saving grace. Whether it’s day or night, just throw one over your body and head out the door in a flash. During the day, this handbag type is perfect for running errands. Come night, it’s the perfect going-out bag that keeps your wallet and phone safely stowed away, and you’ll never have to set it down.

Next up is the wristlet – it’s like a clutch but has a lovely bracelet strap to easily attach to your wrist. It’s a more glamorous way of wearing your bag without the hassle of having to hold it.

Last but not least is the belt bag – the more stylish (and serious) cousin to the fanny pack. Belt bags say: “I am fashionable, serious, and sophisticated, but I also need my hands free so I can get stuff done”. You can wear it over an over-sized dress to help cinch in your waist or pair it with your favorite jeans and tee combo; either way, it adds the perfect touch to any outfit.

When to wear a crossbody bag:

Wear it for a girl’s night out, date night, running errands, or even formal functions.

5. Duffle / Backpack (Travel / Over-sized Bag)

Travel Bags (Duffel & Backback) types of purses

Whether you’re off on a business trip or a weekend getaway with your girlfriends, packing for a trip can be a daunting task, so a functional and fashionable bag is a must. If you’re a student, mom, or working woman, backpacks are perfect for travel or even your daily commute. Basically, it’s an essential item at any stage of life. Backpacks are convenient and easy to carry around. But if you’re planning on taking your entire closet along with you (we don’t judge), then the duffle bag is another great carryall option. They’re stylish, versatile, and super spacious without the hassle of carrying large luggage around.

When to wear an over-sized bag:

Anywhere casually, from parks and travels to the gym, school, or even work.

Conclusion

And there you have it – my top five types of purses that every woman needs in their wardrobe for all occasions. After you’ve covered your bases with these styles, you should be good to go (that is, if you didn’t already have an overflowing collection – again, we don’t judge). Also, always keep in mind that apart from the style factor, different bags are created for different purposes. Give each the care and planning you would afford the rest of your wardrobe. Choosing a handbag will depend on your personal taste, lifestyle, and sense of satisfaction.

Read more from our “Bags Series”: