Style

The 6 biggest handbag trends of 2021

These will be everywhere over the next few months.

Handbag trends of 2021 Credit: Shein/Michael Kors

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If you're starting to venture out in public more these days as places start to open up, your wardrobe is likely going to change. I.e., you may need a purse once again now that you aren't spending all day at home. You'll want something that looks good but also that can hold all of your essentials, including your phone, wallet, keys, and, of course, face mask.

From chic backpacks to leopard print totes, here are six of the most popular handbag trends of 2021. You'll find something for every price point, whether you want to save on a Shein clutch or splurge on a Michael Kors backpack.

1. Circular bags

Circle bags
Credit: Shein/Anthropologie

Circular bags are more compact than your average purse.

Who says purses have to be rectangular in shape? For 2021, many style influencers and fashion-conscious shoppers are carrying circular bags instead. Small, lightweight, and hands-free (thanks to the convenient crossbody strap), these spherical bags are a playful alternative to the standard totes and satchels.

Here, the options are seemingly endless. Ranging from sleek leather to quilted to those with edgy metallic detailing, there's a circular purse for almost any style preference and personality. You can find them in prices as low as $5 from fast fashion brand Shein (and similarly affordable picks at Amazon) to upward of $100 at higher-end brands like Anthropologie.

2. Modern backpacks

Backpack
Credit: Michael Kors/Fjallraven

A backpack is a hands-free way to carry all of your things.

Backpacks are no longer just for schoolchildren or gym-goers. Brands like Michael Kors, Aldo, and Target's Universal Thread are all coming out with stylish backpacks for adults that can a) hold just about anything and b) look great doing so.

Ranging from refined leather to casual canvas and more, these backpacks aren’t the classroom-sanctioned packs of your youth. They offer a fun carry-all option divergent from modern designer purses and mini bags. One of the most popular is the Fjallraven Kanken backpack, which took off during the days of "VSCO girl" style and currently has over 5,500 reviews on Amazon. Our testers dubbed it one of the best backpacks of 2021 for its comfortable adjustable straps and roomy interior.

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3. Leopard print totes

Leopard tote
Credit: Madewell/Target

Fierce up your accessories with a leopard print bag.

Leopard print may have first become a thing in the '60s, but it's come back in full force over the last year or so. It's a favorite among influencers, who have donned the animal print on everything, including shoes, dresses, bikinis, and, of course, purses. Leopard print totes, in particular, are a must-have bag for 2021.

Fierce, functional, and fun, one of the top leopard print bags is the Transport Tote from Madewell. The style, which Meghan Markle has been spotted with (pun intended), gained rave reviews for its minimalist design and storage space. It sells out often, however, so act fast if you want one for yourself. J.Crew and Target also have highly-rated leopard print totes for more affordable prices.

4. Beaded bags

Beaded bags
Credit: Maisonette/Etsy

Craftcore has made beaded bags popular this year.

Designers like Fendi, Simone Rocha, and Bottega Veneta have all come out with hand-beaded bags that cost thousands of dollars. Are they practical? Not so much. But are they pretty and fun? Absolutely. Delightfully retro and a bit kitschy, the trendy beaded bags of 2021 have been seen on celebs like Rihanna and Kendall Jenner and they hearken to the early 2000s in the best way.

No matter your budget, there are plenty of beaded bag choices out there at retailers like Maisonette and Anthropologie. Etsy is also a good place to search for handmade purses in eccentric patterns and bright colors to make even your routine trip to the grocery store feel a lot more fun.

5. Fanny packs

Fanny packs
Credit: Lululemon/Herschel

Wear your fanny pack crossbody-style or around your waist.

The '80s called—they want their fanny packs back. But the sporty waist bags are here to stay in the 2020s. Sleek and simple, the fanny packs of today give off a retro vibe yet have modern accents, from eye-popping prints to functional zippers. Some even have adjustable straps that allow you to wear them across the chest instead of around the waist (which is the "in" way of wearing them now, FYI).

You can find fanny packs at a range of retailers, including Nordstrom, Target, and Lululemon. Go with basic black for a matches-everything look or a bright Hawaiian floral courtesy of Herschel Supply Co. for something more stand-out.

6. Woven totes

Woven tote
Credit: Madewell/J.Crew

A woven tote adds a feminine touch to your outfit.

If you've spent any time on social media lately, you're likely familiar with the "cottagecore" trend. The whimsical aesthetic embraces a return to nature and a fascination with countryside simplicity. While you can break out a ruffled dress or a sheer blouse, another easy way to get in on the cottagecore craze is with a woven tote.

Opt for this oversized crochet tote from Madewell, which easily doubles as a beach bag for summer, or this basket-esque straw tote from Forever 21. If sustainability is more your speed, you might spend a little more on this hand-woven bag from J.Crew, which is made of recycled plastic.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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