Handbag Glossary

Backpack Handbag:

 A slightly larger handbag designed to be worn on the back like a backpack. Backpack Handbags can have one or two shoulder straps and can be carried by both or by just one like a sling bag.  This type of bag is very popular right now. 


A handbag that is long and narrow in shape similar to a French bread loaf.

Barrel Bag:

A cylindrical bag that resembles a barrel.

Bucket Bag:

Bag that is taller than it is wide with a rounded bottom. Named because they resemble a bucket shape.

Clutch bag:

A small handbag, usually doesn't have straps or handles, it is designed to be carried under the arm or by hand. Clutches are often used as evening bags. 

Pouch or coin purse:

Sometimes called change purses. A coin purse is a small bag designed to hold coins and other small items.  But as coins become less popular they are often being used for small objects carried in your handbag. 

Cosmetic Bag: 

A bag designed to hold makeup and other cosmetics and toiletries while traveling.

Crossbody Bag:

Typically smaller in size, these bags are meant to be worn across the body when you want to be hands free or on your shoulder if you want to just throw it on. 

Drawstring Bag:

A bag with a string or cord cinch closure.

East West or (E/W)

A term to describe a bag that is wider than it is tall.


Bags made with materials that benefit the environment in some way. Earth-friendly bags include those made from recycled products, re-purposed products, sustainable materials, and organic materials.


A term used to describe leather or faux-leather with a design imprinted on it. Often exotic skins like croco or snake are actually embossed leather or faux (synthetic) leather.

Envelope Clutch:

A slim, envelope shaped clutch bag. 

Evening Bags:

A clutch, shoulder bag, wristlet, or other style handbag designed for use during special occasions and with more formal clothing. Evening bags are perfect for parties, weddings, date nights, or nights out on the town.

Fanny Pack:

A bag worn on the waist designed to carry small items and daily essentials especially during travel, and hiking.

Flap Bag:

A purse that features a folding flap closure.

Faux Leather:

Faux leather refers to materials that look and feel like leather but are actually synthetic. Faux leather materials include vinyl and PVC. 


A ring inserted into a hole through the material. Small grommets are often called eyelets. 

Hobo Handbag:

Shoulder bags that typically feature a slouchy posture, scooped center, and long shoulder strap.


Fabric where a pattern is directly weaved in or knitted in. Jacquard fabric often has a raised pattern effect.

Leather Handbag:

A handbag made from any tanned animal skin. Most often refers to cowhide but can also refer to ostrich, goatskin, and lambskin. 

Nappa Leather:

Soft, full grain leather made from unsplit animal skin – often sheep or lamb.

North South or (N/S)

A term to describe a bag that is taller than it is wide.

Organizer Bag:

Handbags with compartments and pockets for organized storage of makeup, wallets,  cell phones, and other personal items.

Patent Leather:

A glossy or shiny finished leather.


A purse that usually has a top closure, top carry handle, and a flat bottom. Satchels may have a triangular side profile. 

Shopper Tote:

A rectangular bag perfect for shopping.

Shoulder Bag:

Any bag that can be carried on the shoulder by a strap.

Sling Bag:

Backpacks with one strap that are designed to be carried on one shoulder. 


Leather treated to produce a velvet-like finish. 

Top Grain Leather:

The top layer of leather (leather is split into multiple layers before it is used). 


Large, double handled bag with an open top and open main compartment.


A clutch or wallet carried on the wrist by a small attached loop.