Handbag Types and Maintenance

A good handbag is a closet essential for every woman. It holds all the items a woman needs when she is out and about. So why not take care of your favorite hand bags once in a while. A little bit of care can go a long way and your handbag will look brand new for longer.

I have put together a set of tips so that you can maintain your handbag and make it last longer.

Cleaning Your Handbag :

It is best to clean a stain as soon as possible. Here is the general procedure to follow:

1. Empty all pockets and shake gently to remove dust and debris.

2. Clean interior  by gently pulling it inside out and using a lint roller. If you can’t pull out the lining of your handbag, you can use the fabric brush attachment on your vacuum.

3. Clean exterior with alcohol free baby wipes.


However different materials require different types of handling care. Here are some common materials and methods of care:


  • SUEDE – Use a suede brush several times a season to keep the surface of the suede in good condition.
  • PAINTED (finished) LEATHER – Use a clean, oil-free, dry cloth.
  • DYED LEATHER – Use a soft, oil-free polishing cloth to wipe it down.
  • FABRIC PURSES – Use a brush and a damp cloth to remove light soil.

 Leather & Suede

Regular conditioning of the leather and renewal of its stain and soil protection is a must to keep the skins pliable and supple. Keep in mind that all leathers have irregularities, fillers and glue on them that may break down during cleaning and become more apparent. Because age sets stains, lets oils oxidize, and makes them extremely stubborn to remove, it’s especially important with leather handbags to have them cleaned before they get too soiled. Another feature, which could become apparent after cleaning, would be “mismatched” skins. If the front and back of your purse did not come off the same animal, differences may be more pronounced after cleaning.

Patent Leather

Gently wipe it off often, as mentioned under “patent leather” at the bottom of page 6. Be careful not to scuff or scratch your patent leather items. Handle and wear with care. Damage in the glossy surface often cannot be remedied. Also, do not allow patent leather to come in contact with anything else during storage. Irreparable dye transfer may result.


Maintenance of fabric handbags is the same as what you would do for clothing of similar materials. The mixtures of materials found in bags…linen exterior, leather trim, brass hardware, silk lining, etc. require a variety of cleaning technologies.

Tips for Extending the Life of Your Handbag

1. If there is a big stain, don’t try to clean it yourself. Take it to a leather expert as soon as possible.

2. If your handbag does not have “feet” on the bottom, you can have them added by a leather-care expert.

Tips for Keeping the Bag Interior Clean

1. Never put a pen in your purse without a cap on it.

2. Keep makeup in a separate case.

Tips for Handbag Storage

1. Handbags can be hung on a hook for a few days, but any longer puts too much strain on the straps.

2. Fill handbags loosely with balls of tissue paper to help keep the shape.

3. Put handbag in the storage case it came with. If it didn’t come with a roomy drawstring sack then make one out of cotton or use a pillow case.
4. Ideally, handbags would be stored in cubbies built into your closet, but you can also store them in baskets or bins made of plastic-coated wire. Stand them upright or lay them down and don’t crowd them. They need to breathe, so don’t put a tight-fitting lid on.
5. Never store your purses in the bottom of a closet. Leather is hygroscopic and will absorb the excess moisture (especially on slab floors), which causes mold and mildew.
6. Avoid storing purses in plastic bags. Always use breathable fabric duster bags (even clean pillowcases) to protect them from dust and control moisture damage.
7. Don’t store your handbag in contact with other items. This is a serious problem with patent leather especially. If dye transfer occurs it often cannot be remedied.
8. Find a dark, dry, cool area with good air circulation for storing your nice handbags. Generally avoid attics and basements.
While we are on the topic, lets look at different types of  handbags and their uses.

Types of Handbags

Backpack: It is supported by the shoulders with double handles and lies across the back. Backpacks are supported on either one or both shoulders.


Hobo: It is typically large and characterized by a crescent shape, a slouchy posture and a long strap designed to wear over the shoulder. They are made out of soft, flexible materials and tend to slump, or slouch, when set down. It got its name due to the resemblance to the bindle on a stick that hobos are portrayed as carrying over their shoulder in drawings and cartoons.


Baguette: A purse that is relatively long from side to side and small from top to bottom – basically a little like a baguette with a handle.


Messenger: It has a long strap to be worn across the body that winds around the chest and end up resting on the lower back. Materials used in messengers are often more durable and water-resistant than traditional handbags.


 Barrel: It refers to a barrel shaped handbag with narrow pockets. It is long and has plenty of storage space. Ideally it is used for traveling.


Minaudiere: It  is a women’s fashion accessory, generally considered a jewelry piece, intended to substitute for an evening handbag. A case with compartments, it allows storage for several items in a small space, such as a makeup compact, lipstick, watch, reading glasses, or keys.


Bucket: A roomy handbag shaped like a bucket, usually has an open top and shoulder strap.


Quilted: It is a handbag with a quilt pattern. It’s exterior resembles a quilt and its size ranges from large to small.


Clutch: Small but long handbag (rectangular), evening bag without a handle. You have to clutch it – hence the name.


Saddle: a large handbag (or pair) hung over a saddle. Many designers use saddle bag as an inspiration for their designs. Therefore, their name, even though they are not actually used on saddles.


Doctor: The classic style is flat-bottomed with rounded sides, slightly elongated. Two large handles come together over the top for easy carrying. The top has a collapsible metal frame that springs open when handles are separated and tugged.


Satchel: A structured handbag with double handles, locking hardware and a wide, flat bottom. May be large or small. Unlike a briefcase, a satchel is soft-sided.


Duffel: A large carrybag usually used for travel or sports. The name comes from Duffel, a town in Belgium where the thick cloth used to make the carrybag originated.

Shopper:A medium to large carrybag with two straps. Sometimes sold as a reusable shopping-bag, it  can carry anything that is too large for a common handbag – also called a tote.
Flap: Often a clutch with a flap design(like on an envelope) to keep the bag closed.
Tote: See “Shopper” above.

Frame: Generally about the size of a clutch and has a solid metal frame at the opening.

Wristlet: a clutch shaped handbag that comes with an attached leather or bracelet-looking strap allowing you to move freely.
Box: A clutch that is in the shape of a box.

Canteen: It resembles a case that holds a canteen(A type of water bottle) and is also called a dot-bag since it is round.
Half moon: It is in the shape of a half moon. It may or may not have a zipper or button to keep it closed.


Case for differeHourglass Figure

A bag with angles will play down your curves. E.g: a structured Satchel, a boxy Cigar Box, a classic Kelly bag or a geometric clutch.To emphasize your body shape, choose a bag with curves, e.g. soft Pouch, an oval bag, a soft and slouchy Hobo, a long and rounded Baguette, a semi-circular clutch.


Choose chunky styles; shoulder bags that will sit near your waist and not your too close to your bust, hand bags are good, be careful with clutch bags (only good with slimmer arms).

As a petite hourglass, better choose a small bag. As a large hourglass, choose a bigger bag.

Shoulder straps on bags are uncomfortable for you because of your sloping shoulders. They will tend to slide off your shoulders.


Pear Figure

Clutch purses and shoulder bags that sit on your waist are a great choice. Choose ones with many details attached or ones with a funky style. Oversize bags are also great as it corresponds with your hips to make them look smaller. Make sure that it is a solid color.



Apple Figure

One of your options as an apple body shape is to shift the attention to the hip area. Messenger bags, a shopper, over the shoulder (cross body) bags as well as other bags with longer handles can do the trick. For an elegant look, chose bag to carry over your arm.

Keep in mind that the size of your body is important. If you are small, better choose a small handbag. Over the shoulder bags should not sit below the hips, of the shoulder bags should hang at the level of the bust for an apple body shape. If you are big, choose a bigger handbag – from medium size to large bags. You have a wide range of choices.


Go For:

  • Handbags rather than shoulder bags. Keep the size medium to chunky.
  • Choose bags with a long shoulder strap


Rectangle Figure

With the straight shape of your shoulders, you can use a bag with shoulder straps without them falling off.
To make your body appear less angled, go for a bag with round styles like a Pouch, backpack or a slouchy Hobo. Add some details like embroidery, studs or a scarf around the straps and handles.
Bags with straight lines will add roughness and simplicity to your silhouette. You can realize this with a Cigar Box, a Satchel or a classic Kelly bag.


If you are a heavy or tall rectangle, choose a bigger bag. If you are a petite rectangle, opt for a petite bag.