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Handbags: 13 Essential Sizes

Large, small, functional, decorative, hand, shoulder, sling… There are many different types of bags! Here is a very subjective selection of the most popular types of bags.

Shopping bag

The original shopping bag has changed! Take a large trapezium-shaped fabric and put short handles on it: that’s it! Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration… But the idea is there: simplicity and practicality characterise the shopping bag. It can be carried in the hand or on the shoulder. In fabric, leather, printed, plain or glittery, the tote bag is infinitely versatile and can be worn on all occasions. The model with sequined bands created by Vanessa Bruno in 1998 has become a classic. At Mongarsson it is called Pirate.

Hobo bag

The term hobo comes from the United States and refers to the vagrants who used to cross the country illegally using goods trains. They used a large, flexible bag to carry their belongings. This large bag is made from soft materials, especially leather. It is carried on the shoulder with a long handle and takes on a slightly folded shape. The description is reminiscent of a certain Vagabond from Mongarsson’s Ébauche line. The hobo bag is often associated with casual outfits and a bohemian style. 

Tote bag

We have all come across this format at least once! To tote means to carry around. It is usually a square or rectangular cloth bag with two handles. Its simple design makes it easy to produce in large quantities, affordable and popular. The tote bag is the ultimate tote bag, the ideal bag for shopping. Many brands use it as a means of communication. Many artists also use it as a medium for their graphics. Reusable, the cotton tote bag is often presented as an ecological alternative to plastic bags in shops. However, it must be reused many times to compensate for the environmental impact of its manufacture.

Doctor bag

This bag takes its name from its primary use: it is the doctor’s bag. This rectangular format, all in volume, was used to carry the doctor’s kit during his rounds. Like a tool kit, the doctor’s bag opens wide with a special clasp, which can be locked or closed with a key. The doctor’s bag is usually made of strong leather, with a thick handle and a bottom protected by small metal feet.

Bowling bag

Sportsmen and women have widely adopted this large capacity bag, perfect for carrying all their sports equipment and even a bowling ball. Attracted by the typical half-moon shape of this bag, leather goods manufacturers have had fun adapting it. Now a fashion accessory, the bowling bag has moved from coated canvas to leather and has replaced the traditional central colour strip with plain colours. The large size of the bowling bag allows it to be used as a 48-hour bag for a weekend trip and fits in well with a sporty chic look.


The simple mention of the word is enough to picture this rectangular bag with a flap decorated with a clasp. The adult version of the satchel may have the traditional shoulder straps, but these are generally thin and discreet. The satchel used as a handbag is usually small and equipped with a handle and a strap or chain to be carried over the shoulder. In an ultra-slim version, in a professional context, the briefcase is replaced by a leather briefcase. The briefcase serves as a document holder, but can also protect a tablet. 


The saddlebag is a continuation of the functional bags that were once attached to the saddle when the horse ruled the roads, or that carried the mail delivered by the postman… The saddlebag is often worn over the shoulder, but can also be carried in the hand when equipped with a handle. The lines of some bags intended for professional use (carrying a computer) resemble those of a satchel. Panniers and satchels are sometimes similar in design, but the satchel is usually distinguished by a central opening.

Messenger bag

A messenger bag is necessarily a shoulder bag. It is closed with a flap, which may or may not have clasps. Initially designed to carry the necessities of hunters and fishermen, the leather satchel is now an essential bag model, available in all materials and colours. The fabric version is often referred to as a “musette”. It is the ideal bag for those who want to have everything they need at hand while keeping their hands free…


Crossbody means shoulder strap in the language of Shakespeare. The term is mainly used to describe a small, slim bag, hardly larger than a clutch, worn on the shoulder or slung over the shoulder with a long strap. A crossbody can hold essentials such as a wallet or a companion and keys. The crossbody serves as a bag as well as a fashion accessory. It can be worn to spice up a somewhat conservative outfit or to complete a preppy look. Check out the crazy crossbody from Mongarsson’s Tocade line:


The 80’s and 90’s were the heyday of the fanny pack. This unusual bag was part of the urban youth’s panoply. Particularly appreciated by tourists for its practicality, the fanny pack was quickly catalogued among the corny accessories. Lately, the love affair with the banana has improved significantly thanks to the vintage wave, which is rehabilitating its hyper-convenient format and popular image. The fanny pack can be worn on the stomach, sideways on the hip, slung over the shoulder or even on the shoulder!  

Pouch and Clutch bag

In short, the clutch bag is a large envelope that is carried under the arm or in the hand. It can be made of leather or fabric. This flat bag does not have a handle, but can be fitted with a strap. The use of a pouch is therefore limited to carrying relatively small items (papers, bank cards, handkerchiefs, etc.). You can take your pouch to a wedding, a party with friends or a cocktail party. It is also very useful for hiding your face from the flashes of the paparazzi or, more commonly, from someone you don’t want to meet. The clutch is chosen to match the outfit worn for the occasion. It adds a touch of colour, extravagance and/or glitter to your style.  


OK, it’s not a bag per se since it’s a box… But it’s a box that performs the functions of a bag, so we’re allowed to talk about it! A minaudiere is a small box with a clasp that can hold the bare necessities for going out, originally mainly make-up. Designed by the jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels in the 1930s, the minaudière is a hybrid between a bag and a piece of jewellery. It is generally richly decorated and can be covered with rhinestones, sequins, pearls, precious fabrics, worked leathers… The clutch bag can take the format of the minaudière, or that of a small clutch closed by a flap or a clasp. It is embellished with a strap, a chain or a very fine lanyard. 

Baguette bag

As the name suggests, this is a long, thin bag that is carried under the arm with a handle. Fortunately, the baguette bag is not as long as the traditional French baguette (60 cm) but rather between 25 and 30 cm. As its name suggests, the baguette bag was created in 1997 by an Italian company, Fendi, before being adopted by most luxury leather goods brands. Indeed, available in all colours and materials, this small oblong format is unrivalled for triggering a craze. 

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