The 13 Best Shoulder Bags, According to Marie Claire Editors

Practical and cute—what more could you want?

Yoyo Cao wears a black shoulder bag, black sunglasses, silver earrings, a silver large chain necklace, a black shiny leather heart-neck / shoulder-off zipper corset top, black suit pants, outside Cecilie Bahnsen, during Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Fall Winter 2023 2024, on March 01, 2023 in Paris, France.
(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images))

Maybe it’s because the Y2K fashion revival continues to rear its head, but I've been thinking about investing in a shoulder bag of late. Memories of It-girls like Paris Hilton and Lindsy Lohan walking around Los Angeles and New York wearing their smallest baguette-style bags have been all over my Pinterest boards—but, because I am most definitely not an early-aughts socialite, I’ve been considering what the best shoulder bag might be like for 2023. My conclusion: Shoulder bags that are a little more practical for everyday use than their Y2K counterparts, but have that vintage appeal.  

Like a work bag or laptop bag, a great shoulder bag is only great if it's versatile to style and easy to use. The term itself implies that the bag is hands-free, and will hold all of your essentials securely under your arm. But there's one big decision you have to make when shopping for a shoulder bag: Do you want one that’s better suited to hold only your credit cards, keys, and phone on a night out, or do you want one that’s great for holding your daily essentials for your next errands run?

"The more neutral and minimal styles can become a closet staple that works with everything, while the louder more colorful options live more in the trend category," says Ariel Tunnell, a celebrity stylist who has worked with Melissa Fumero and Stephanie Beatriz. "There are so many options for every price point, so they are accessible without being a major investment. " 

So, consider the following before you buy: the function you want the bag to play in your life; your desired aesthetic; and which brands are going to get you the best value for money in the long term. If you’re thinking about investing an entire paycheck in a shoulder bag this season, consider options from retailers like JW Pei, Coach, or Madewell, all of which make editor-approved shoulder bags that retail for less than $500. I also spoke to an expert from Rebag, a site specializing in the buying, selling, and trading of designer accessories, about which retro silhouettes are trending this season, and the brands you should consider.

The Best Shoulder Bags

The Best Designer Shoulder Bag Brands

Brands like Prada and Hermés hit the best of all three categories, at least according to Rebag’s 2022 Clair—or Comprehensive Luxury Appraisal Index for Resale—Report, which uses millions of data points across pricing, demand, and trends to provide users with a definitive list of the best bags and brands to invest in now. So, it makes sense that shopping an iconic bag from either brand is a good idea. “If you envision yourself reaching for an easy, everyday style, opt for a fuss-free Prada Re-Edition 2005 Re-Nylon bag that comes with a detachable pouch to store keys and credit cards,” says Elizabeth Layne, the Chief Marketing Officer of Rebag. The Re-Nylon bag specifically is marked as the best bag to buy from the brand because it holds between 99 percent and 112% percent of its value on the secondary market. 

Or, “should you prefer a design that is as well-suited for the office as it is for Sunday brunch, the ever-popular Hermés Constance is as versatile as they come,” she continues. The Clair report found that Hermés bags tend to retain 103% of their original value, meaning that they’re even more valuable on the secondary market. 

Meet The Expert

Elizabeth Layne
Elizabeth Layne

Elizabeth Layne is the Chief Marketing Officer of Rebag. Prior to Rebag, Elizabeth was the Chief Marketing Officer of London-based retail / real estate startup, Appear Here, where she supervised all marketing and creative functions, as well as launched the business in Paris and New York. Previously, Elizabeth was Marketing Director for one of the US's fastest growing menswear brands, Bonobos, acquired by Walmart in 2017. At Bonobos, she had primary oversight of performance, brand and retail marketing.

Elizabeth’s work in retail began while at Harvard Business School when she joined Birchbox to launch their marketing efforts. She began her career as Business Development Manager at the global advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather. She earned her MBA from Harvard Business School and her BA Magna Cum Laude from Brown University.

Ariel Tunnell
Ariel Tunnell

Ariel Tunnell is a Los Angeles based celebrity stylist and accessory lover. Current clients include Stephanie Beatriz, Rachel Bloom, Poppy Liu, Lauren Ash, Melissa Fumero, and Abby Elliott. 

Julia Marzovilla
Fashion E-Commerce Editor

Julia Marzovilla is the Fashion E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she reviews the latest launches from fashion and beauty brands, finds the best on-sale items around the internet, and interviews experts to find the best products in any category to share with her readers. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site as an expert in everything from the best laptop bags to the best laser hair removal devices.

In her near decade of experience, Julia has both written for several top outlets in the E-Commerce space and worked at major fashion labels. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and worked as the Trending Fashion and News Writer STYLECASTER. You can find her across the internet at @JuliaMarzovilla. In real life, you can find her creating shopping guides for her friends, cooking or baking in her too-small kitchen, or buying tickets for the next time Harry Styles is in town.

Julia has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Journalism from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. She lives in New York City, her hometown.