The best top handle bags will become your staple

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Indeed, like a crossbody silhouette or a fanny pack, a hands-free case has its value. But despite the gibberish surrounding this useful accessory detail, there’s something to be said for a good old-fashioned handbag that’s carried with — drum roll — your hands. The best top handle bags span multiple categories, from small party bags and charming buckets to structured shapes and elegant crossbody bags. The common denominator of an upright grip makes the art of carrying your handbag conscious and maybe a little more fun?

Expect some standout options in this category this season. On the summery side of the spectrum there are woven straw bags with top handles from Dragon Diffusion and Bembien (the latter is inspired by the French coast). There’s also a range of artisanal design details making their way forward, with beading, ruffles and macrame, like the artful pieces spotted on Chloé’s Spring 2022 runway. They also have your selection of refreshed classics that tick the polished style box pretty well. Ahead, 48 options to start your search.

The envelope

A structured envelope bag is the foundation of sleek, professional style. Head back to the office with a top-handle bag designed with this sleek clasp – bonus points if it has a touch of sleek hardware.

Valextra Iside Medium Bag in Powder

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Mark Cross Madeline women’s bag

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Gucci Ophidia small mesh tote bag

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Saint Laurent Cassandra mini bag in croc effect leather

What is better for a summer picnic than a bucket bag in the shape of a round lunch bucket? With the integrated top handle, a stroll through the park with swinging arms feels okay.

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Cesta Collective full of Breton lunch pail

Chloé Louela bucket bag in leather with stitching

Longchamp Epure bucket bag

Salvatore Ferragamo leather bucket bag

The Croc Effect

The clever ingenuity of croc-embossed leather translates to the top-handle silhouette with some of the season’s most charming handbag releases. Reach for brightly colored versions for a fête-ready staple or go for a neutral color for a demure look.

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Balenciaga Hourglass XS satchel with croc embossing

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Anima Iris mini Zaria handbag in metallic crocodile embossed leather

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By Far tote bag with crocodile effect

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JW Pei Fae Women’s Top-Handle Shoulder Bag

The pastel

Bold bright colors can be a good time, but there’s something inherently romantic about a powdery pastel. Try out these desaturated hues with a whimsical handbag crafted in the top-handle silhouette.

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Acne Studios Alexandria leather top-handle large bag

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Marge Sherwood green top handle Bami bag

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Boyy Karl 19 mini bag in leather with buckle

The asymmetric

An asymmetrical handbag is the accessory equivalent of a contemporary sculpture. With its ornate lines and unique design, this top-handle bag is the kind of piece that tends to start a conversation.

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Little Liffner tote in croc effect leather

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Acne Studios Algol Distortion top-handle leather bag

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Destree Albert small quilted yellow bag

When it comes to the chain bag, a dainty detail on the top handle can balance the boldness of the chunky hardware. Choose this option if your wardrobe could use more texture.

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Manu Atelier mini Kesme shoulder bag made of soft leather

Stand Studio Diya leather shoulder bag

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JW Anderson mini tote bag in leather with chain

The woven

Straw bags are the perfect gateway to warmer weather, and because this woven texture pairs so beautifully with a dainty top-handle shape, you’re spoiled for choice with this category.

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Miu Miu Midollino shoulder bag with leather trim

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Dragon Diffusion Grace small basket bag in braided leather

The bamboo

Bamboo handles exude a resort vibe even when you’re nowhere near a beach, which is reason enough to invest in a top-handle bag made from this tropical material. Wear yours with a linen suit or floral midi dress; it’s a versatile choice.

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Caterina Bertini handle bag made of natural bamboo

Jil Sander handbag in leather with bamboo handle

Loewe Bamboo bucket bag made of calfskin

Gucci bamboo 1947 small top handle bag

The handicraft

Beading, crochet and other artful materials are an easy way to add some personality to your accessory collection. This season, reach for a top-handle bag with an artisanal, handcrafted quality.

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La Milanesa crochet tote bag with floral pattern

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Chloé Edith small striped handbag in recycled cashmere

Merlette Lune braided mini bag in azure blue

The scrunchie

Gathered fabrics resembling the beloved scrunchie feel like fodder for the nostalgic type. Show a nod to fashion’s early days with a top-handle bag that picks up on this design detail.

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Cecilie Bahnsen green top-handle fallulah bag

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Alexander Wang scrunchie small bag

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Frame Le Scrunch mini bag with a shirred top handle

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JW Pei Cora satchel

The suede

A suede cut in a 70’s-inspired color palette of camel and burnt orange is the perfect complement to other seasonal trends such as prairie dresses and crocheted separates.

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Brandon Maxwell the Maxwell suede bag

Khaite Beatrice small knotted suede bag

Coperni Baguette suede top-handle bag

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Jacquemus Le Chiquito bag in suede with top handle

While the backpack is traditionally carried on the back, you guessed it, some designers have also incorporated a carry handle to give a versatile update to this modern staple.

Prada backpack made of Re-Nylon and leather

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Mansur Gavriel Soft Women’s Bag

Salvatore Ferragamo backpack with monogram logo

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