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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Model at New York Fashion Week showing a Louis Vuitton handbag.

A handbag, or purse in American English, is a medium to large bag, often fashionably designed, typically used by women, and used to hold personal items such as wallet/coin purse, keys, tissues, cosmetics, a hairbrush, cellular device or personal digital assistant, feminine hygiene products, etc.



A medium-to-small-sized handbag with a short handle, designed to be carried (clutched) in one's hand is often called a clutch.

A larger handbag with two handles is often called a tote[citation needed].

A pocketbook is similar to a handbag.

Vintage pocketbook

A security bag protects the carrier from travel theft. The handbag includes an invisible stainless steel strap sewn into the fabric and a protectant on the main zipper.

Man purse

In North America, handbags are traditionally only carried by women. However, increasingly, younger men carry one as a smaller alternative to a backpack; such a handbag is sometimes termed a manbag or, in American slang, murse[1] (portmanteaus "handbag" and "man" with "purse" respectively), also male purse or man-purse.

Many of the styles are actually messenger bags.

Child's purse

Young girls also use small purses or clutches, but usually just for play or dress-up.[citation needed]

Types of handbags

Crocodile skin handbags in a conservation exhibit at Bristol Zoo, England
  • Clutch: Small, yet long (rectangular), evening bag without a handle.
  • Satchel: A soft-sided case usually of leather, used to carry papers or books. Usually has a handle and often has a strap.
  • Duffle bag : A large bag usually used for travel or sports.
  • Tote: A medium to large bag with two straps.
  • Messenger bag: A bag with a long strap to be worn across the body.
  • Sling bag: A bag with a long strap (similar to a messenger bag), yet smaller.


See also


Further reading

  • Pedersen, Stephanie. Handbags - What Every Woman Should Know. Cincinnati: David & Charles. pp. 128 pages. ISBN 13 978-0-7153-295-0. 

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