Handbag styles that have stood the test of time

While there will be many dubious impulse purchases made during the January sales, there’s one item that remains a solid and sensible style investment – the always desirable designer handbag. If you’re pondering which must-have to shell out for this year, here we champion five designs that have stood the test of time.

The ‘Kelly’ bag

So-named after Grace Kelly, who was often photographed with the original Hermes Sac à Dépêches bag, the ‘Kelly’ continues to prove a hit with celebrities and fashion influencers across the globe. If you can’t stretch to an original, vintage and high-street bags inspired by the boxy shape and padlock fastening have also become shorthand for lady-like sophistication and are plentiful. As well as classic black, this year look out for crocodile and tan styles.

The satchel

Leather satchels with long shoulder straps may have begun their life carrying schoolbooks, but the style has developed into a practical and popular choice for fashion fans. With fashion bloggers breathing new life into the preppy pouch, contemporary colour-pops and metallics bringing the style into the 21st Century – not to mention fashion houses such as Mulberry creating must-have pieces – buckles are officially back!

The clutch

This small rectangular or purse-shaped pocket, often decorated with delicate beads and geometric shapes, accessorised fashionable flapper dresses in the 1920s and since then has remained a stalwart of evening style. As well as desirable Deco, boxy Sixties-inspired patent clutches and contemporary oversized styles are big for 2013. Forgo the shoulder straps for fashion-forward style –after all, the clue is in the name…

The tote

Great for day-to-day shopping, the roomy tote was a hit with housewives in the mid-20th Century and the simple boxy or bucket shape remains both a practical and fashionable choice today. Simple totes can offer an affordable way to buy into your favourite brands, or experiment with colours and styles without making a considerable financial investment. Canvas totes that can be folded up and kept in your handbag also make much more attractive alternatives to plastic shoppers.

The bowling bag

Having started life as a practical piece of kit for fans of ten pin bowling in America, the deep and arched or tubular bag remains a hit with fans of Fifties style (for tips on how to carry, just look to the Pan Am girls). But it was Burberry Prorsum that brought the design back to the fashion forefront last year, showcasing a variety of leather bowling bags at its Autumn/Winter and Resort shows. For alternative British takes on the style, look to Aquascutum and Aspinal of London.  

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