Anatomy of a Handbag: A Guide to Types of Bags, Purse Hardware & More

Purses and handbags are the perfect fusion of style and function, making them essential to any fashionista's wardrobe. A myriad of purse types, materials, and fabrications ensure that no matter your style aesthetic there is something to complement your unique personality. You'll discover purse shapes, purse parts, and purse hardware all play an integral role in this iconic fashion accessory.

It's in the Bag: Purse Shapes that Flatter

Most Common Purse Shapes

We'll start by taking a glimpse at some of the most popular purse shapes. Get inspired by the beauty and functionality of the different types of bags and make them your own with varying materials, sizes, pockets, purse hardware, and other special details. Once you delve into the world of handbags and everything that goes into their construction, you'll have a new appreciation for this must-have accessory and those who create them!

Crossbody Bag

This hands-free bag is a go-to choice for everyday, casual use. Its longer strap runs diagonally across the body, giving the wearer freedom of movement.

Clutch Bag

Without a strap or handle, this chic option offers a compact design that can be carried in the hand or under the arm. Rectangular…square…envelope…this elegant bag comes in a variety of shapes to instantly elevate any outfit.

Tote Bag

A classic favorite, a tote is characterized by its roomy, open top and reliable double straps. A stylish way to carry daily necessities for work or play, this bag offers convenient and easy access to its contents.

Bucket Bag

The hallmarks of this type of bag are a drawstring top and a round or oval bottom. Its unique shape gives it a relaxed, boho style that looks great with a variety of outfits.


Structure meets style in this bag that generally has a rectangular shape, a flap closure and top handles. A longer strap can also be added for the versatility of wearing it on the shoulder or as a crossbody.


From utilitarian to fashion-forward, backpacks feature two straps for wearing comfortably on the back. Great for distributing the weight of its contents evenly while keeping your hands free for commuting, travel and more.

It's All in the Details: An Overview of Common Purse Parts

Common Purse Parts

Purse and handbag selection is a matter of personal preference when it comes to both style and function. Whether you're looking for a highly organized bag with lots of pockets or a simple, streamlined bag with minimalist design, there are many options to meet your needs. Consider materials including leather, exotic leather, vegan leather, canvas, and nylon when creating your handbag design.

Take a look at the following common purse parts and start dreaming of your next DIY purse project.


This is the main section of your bag that will hold your essentials. From a petite clutch purse to a roomy tote bag, handbags come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.


Depending on your bag's style, it may feature a flat, reinforced base for added body and stability.


A variety of handles and straps are available to allow bags to be carried and worn to suit different preferences. Shorter, double handles that allow for hand or elbow carry, longer straps designed for shoulder or crossbody wear, or versatile convertible, adjustable straps are all options to consider.

Purse Hardware

This category includes metal accents like buckles, snaps, padlocks, turn locks, catches, clasps, bottom studs and more. Commonly made from solid brass, gold, silver, or a plated zinc alloy, purse hardware impacts both the looks and the durability of your bag.


Bag zippers are both a stylish and functional part of your bag. They provide secure closure of the bag's contents while also providing a decorative touch. Closed end zippers come in a range of pre-cut lengths to suit a variety of bag projects. Zipper chain is also available sold by the foot. Pair it with your choice of zipper pulls to give yourself even more room for creative freedom.


While linings are optional, a quality lining is durable and helps protect the inside of the bag and its contents while offering a finished look.


Subdivisions like pockets and compartments help you keep your belongings organized for easy access. From zippered pockets to secure valuables to open pockets for items you want to access quickly like phones or pens, these organizational features are great additions to your bag designs.


From the zippers we discussed above to magnets, clasps, turn locks and drawstrings, a good closure helps keep your items secure. Selecting the right closure has an impact on your bag's functionality and good looks.

Purse Hardware: A Closer Look

Now that we have a good overview of the different types of bags and most common purse parts, let's delve a little more into some different purse hardware options you may want to integrate into your bag's design.


A popular accent on designer bags, the padlock adds a touch of high-end style that's coveted by many handbag enthusiasts. In addition to keeping contents safe and secure, a padlock makes a luxurious design element. Modern style and on-trend finishes give our padlock selection something for everyone.

Turn Locks

A popular purse closure and wallet closure, a turn lock is a great way to amp up your project's style factor. From modern to vintage, we have turn locks in a variety of styles and finishes to enhance your style aesthetic.

Catches & Clasps

If turn locks aren't your bag, consider a catch or clasp instead. From a unique swing lock clasp to a tuck catch, we have closure options that give your bag unique style.

Purse Frames

Get inspired with our selection of purse frames, doctor bag frames, facile frames, and squeeze frames for coin purses. In small to large sizes with all the hardware needed for assembly, these frames are ready to give your handbags a simple, streamlined closure.

Purse Handles

From elegant leather purse handles to chic chain handles, we have a nice selection for finishing your bag in style.

Purse Feet and Bottom Studs

In a variety of finishes to match your bag's hardware, purse feet and bottom studs help protect the bottom of your bag, offering a stylish barrier when the bag is placed on a surface.

Bag Projects That Inspire

After exploring the anatomy of a handbag, types of purses and purse hardware, you may be excited to tackle your own bag project. From a beginner-friendly tote bag to a more advanced patent leather clutch, we have a nice selection of video tutorials on building beautiful bags. Whether it's your first time making a bag, or you have a few under your belt, a purse is a rewarding project that you can customize to make it your own.

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