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The Best Handbag

Last updated on October 26, 2022

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Handbags

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

YTL Wallet Clutch & Synthetic Leather Handbags, 4-Piece

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

YTL

Wallet Clutch & Synthetic Leather Handbags, 4-Piece

The synthetic leather on these bags has the feel of cowhide without the guilt. It also makes these purses surprisingly lightweight, so you can carry even the biggest one all day without strain. Together, they make a combo that can suit any occasion.

Overall Take

Cute Travel SetThese matching bags give the wearer plenty of options.

 Runner Up

Realer Anti-Scratch PU Leather Hobo Handbag

Realer

Anti-Scratch PU Leather Hobo Handbag

The zippers on this one aren't just for show, although they do give the exterior a bit of edge. They're just a few of the many compartments you can use to organize your things. The faux leather material (including the straps) is as sturdy as it looks.

Overall Take

Lots of SpaceThis large purse packs plenty of storage options.

 We Also Like

Angel Barcelo Washed PU Leather Hobo Handbag

Angel Barcelo

Washed PU Leather Hobo Handbag

This handbag is sleek both inside and out. The smooth lining has ample compartments for keys and the like, and the outer pockets are easy to access. The construction of both the purse and the straps let you carry a day's worth of gear without feeling weighed down.

Overall Take

Easy on ShouldersStep out in style with this deceptively roomy handbag.

 Strong Contender

Lapsting Soft Vegan Leather Hobo Handbag

Lapsting

Soft Vegan Leather Hobo Handbag

This bag packs all the toughness of leather, but has a surprisingly smooth texture. The straps are strong and the exterior pockets have almost as much space as the main compartment. From straps to the base, this one is built to last.

Overall Take

True Leather FeelThe tough but fashionable design fits a range of outfits.

Buying Guide

We ask a lot of our handbags. Not only do they have to hold our makeup, cash, credit cards, keys and phone, but they have to do it without giving us chronic back pain — all while being the anchor of our fashion ensemble. With all that in mind, it’s worth putting some time into choosing the right one.

So what exactly is a handbag? Most people consider it to be on the larger side of the many purse configurations; something smaller than a tote but much larger than a clutch. Without getting too hung up on definitions, it’s a bag that you can carry all day — which means it needs to carry everything you’ll need that day.

The first thing to consider, then, is space. While you want your bag to carry everything, you don’t want it to be much bigger than it needs to be. If you’re toting a wide mix of items (lipstick, keys, business cards, etc.), go for a purse with lots of compartments so you can keep everything organized. If your cargo won’t change much from day to day — or you’re carrying a large item like a laptop or tablet — you might want a simpler bag with one roomy pocket. Think about convenience, too. Pockets on the outside of the handbag are good for retrieving frequently used items like ID cards.

Craftsmanship is a big concern with handbags, perhaps more so than with any other accessory you own. Remember, this is an item you might have with you for most of the day, in all kinds of weather. Leather is a time-honored purse material for a lot of reasons: It looks great, holds a lot of weight and is resistant to both moisture and scuffing. On the other hand, leather bags can be a bit on the heavy side even when they’re empty. There are some great examples of vegan or synthetic leather bags that replicate the look and some of the sturdiness without the extra weight. And even vinyl purses can be plenty durable as long as some care is put into the manufacturing. Make sure to check the stitching, especially around the zippers and bottom edges. Good stitching is generally evenly spaced and tight.

Don’t forget to look at the straps, either. If a cheap handbag breaks, the strap will probably be the first thing to go. If your purse is on the larger side, make sure that the strap is wide up top so that it doesn’t put too much pressure on your shoulder.

And of course, none of this matters if your purse doesn’t look good. That doesn’t mean you need to buy an expensive designer brand. Sure, the right initials on a handbag might impress certain people but do your research and find out if that purse will last. Shop for your individual style first and you’ll find that some smaller pursemakers can be just as worthy of your loyalty.

What to Look For

So you’ve got a designer handbag you no longer use. Congratulations! You might have an item you can resell later on … if you take care of it. Stuffing it in your crowded closet might do more harm than you think. To preserve the shape of your handbag, stuff it until it’s full but not bulging. You’ll want to use old shirts, towels, pillowcases or acid-free tissue paper for that stuffing, if possible. Avoid using printed grocery bags or newspaper, though. The ink can run over time and ruin the lining.

More to Explore

Purses have been around in some form or other for as long as humans have had things to carry, but we’ve got Harriet Jane Cave to thank for designing the first modern leather handbag. She was the sole proprietor of H.J. Cave & Sons when it was established in 1839, and towards the end of Cave’s long career her bags eventually caught the eye of royalty. Cave was the official supplier of luggage to both Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria.

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