After so long spent in lockdown, the fall 2021 runways cast a beacon of optimism, with clothes intended to be worn out and about—not solely in the comfort of our own homes. This doesn't mean that practicality and comfort weren't top of mind for designers, but that the luxurious materials, colors, and details they showed beg to be shown off in public. The fall handbag trends for 2021 will feel familiar: From retro, metal-framed shapes to utility-focused messenger bags, we know these styles well and we still really love them. These are bag staples that have transcended eras and seasons and strengthen their positions as essentials every woman should aim to have in her closet.
Veering away from the impractical, the idea of investment handbag shopping is reinforced by the designers who put these down the runway. It’s a time to reflect and celebrate the past while we carry our belongings into into a better future.
Frame bags came back around again this season, proving that this ladylike style is not going anywhere. Seen in python prints (like at Zimmerman, left), classic leather (like at Coach, right), there’s a type for everyone. To set yourself apart from the pack, try options with modern details and interesting shapes to push this trend out of the retro comfort zone.
The modern curve of the frame reads a little less retro, but is still super classic—a bag you’ll keep grabbing for years to come.
This python printed leather stunner comes with a strap so you have a hands-free way to wear it as well.
This timelessly chic top handle style from it-brand Anine Bing will serve you well over the years.
This retro woven fabric number is a great break from traditional leather if you're looking to switch it up.
Reminiscent of the chic Bottega Veneta clutch Lauren Hutton so nonchalantly tucked under her arm in the movie American Giglio, the effortless daytime clutch is becoming a crucial wardrobe staple. Having surfaced on the runway a few seasons ago, the casual clutch has made its way back into the spotlight at Gabriella Hearst (left) and Fendi (right). Look for this in casual materials like suede and leather for more day-to-night wear, versus typical evening fabrics like satin or a sparkly lamé.
Kim Jones' debut RTW collection at Fendi introduces a new silhouette of bags called "Fendi First." In other words, don't be last to grab the new it-bag for fall.
Cult-status line Mansur Gavriel tries their hand as a clutch that’s as irresistible as their highly-coveted bucket bags.
This shiny patent clutch in a creamy hue makes a case for a pop-of-white accessory well after Labor Day.
Who says you can't wear straw in fall? Not us! This natural fabric will give off '70s vibes when paired with plaids and leather.
The functionality of this shape is grounded in purpose, but the exterior pockets and buckle details play big roles in the classic style which makes for a super chic all-day bag option. On the fall 2021 runways, Etro showed a canvas version (left) while Max Mara offered a supple leather style (right).
This tricked-out messenger bag walked the Etro runway, offering a even more functional take on utility with multiple attachments for headphones and hand sanitizer.
The African Ivorian Baoulé fabric inset on this satchel style from Sarep + Rose is a stunning detail that stands out from other all-leather styles.
This slouchy messenger bag reads a bit more rugged than structured if you’re not feeling a super buttoned-up look.
This soft pink offering from MICHAEL Michael Kors is super functional without sacrificing major style.
Designers seem to be having a lot of fun playing around with puffier shapes for this upcoming winter. Both Tod's (left) and Prada (right) showed more voluminous versions of classic bag styles like a hobo and an oversized flap bag. This inflated proportion is a modern update that doesn’t seem to be fading, so now is a great time to lean into it.
Tod's showed a super-sized hobo for fall, similar to this baby blue leather one they’re offering right now.
In camel vegan leather, this small but mighty option packs a lot of puffiness.
This “hammock”-shaped tote looks great over the shoulder as it does crossbody.
This oversized hobo style is made from 100 percent recycled nylon with a 100 percent recycled polyester lining.