Are Designer Handbags Over? The Best Styles to Carry Right Now

If you are over 40, then you probably remember the many, many designer handbag crazes and manias of the past decades. From the Fendi baguette beloved by Carrie Bradshaw to the Louis Vuitton cherries and multicolore, there’s always been an “it” bag. So what are the best handbags to carry right now?

Living in a Post Designer Handbag World

But in the past few years, has there really been a single or several bags of the year or even season like there have been in years past? We can blame Covid for the lack of caring about labels, of course, but we tend to think there’s been a bigger, more fundamental shift in fashion. Instead of nearly everyone coveting the same few designer handbags, there’s much more variety in style, price and silhouette. And we’re glad to see that there is way more of a focus on ethical fashion

hnadbag trends today fountainof30

Best Handbag Styles Right Now

Here are some of our favorite handbag styles right now. And if you still want that designer label (you know we understand), why not go vintage? 


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Time-Honored Totes

At a certain point we lost patience for bags that require too much fussing, won’t hold everything we require for a given day or evening, or simply need to be babied in order to look their best. And really, there’s a reason that the tote is perhaps the oldest handbag style known to humankind.

Perhaps no one does this better and with a better message than Telfar, which is literally “not for you – for everyone”. Though the Brooklyn-based label’s drop-style releases may seem overly complicated, the fact that their goods are ethically produced might make it worth figuring out (or asking your savvy friends to help!). Don’t want to deal with the acquisition challenges? Try Nisolo for a practical and sturdy tote that you can feel good about carrying.

That said, any tote with sturdy handles that fits comfortably over your shoulder and holds everything you need it to and then some is in style if you ask us, whether it has a designer label or not.

Smart Sustainability Handbags

Sustainable fashion is hardly a trend but more and more handbag designers are creating bags and other goods from sustainable materials and using more ethical methods of production to create them. There’s always the option of artisan-made bags (check out Etsy or even your local arts and crafts fairs if you are in a bigger city or trendier area), but we are also fans of Cuyana and Baggu.

Vintage Value Handbags

Whether it’s home-grown vintage (hey, maybe you brought that baguette back out) or purchased from a site like the RealReal, Vestiaire Collective, or similar sites, some classics never go out of style. While most of us are not lucky enough to have a relative with a closet full of Hermes and Chanel, you never know what you can find if you scour consignment stores (both brick and mortar and online). For example, the Balenciaga moto never really goes out of style and just gets better with age! 

Handbag Trend: Knits and Knots

Lightweight woven or fabric bags are another great option once you’re over 40 and have no patience for super weighty handbags. And they often have the added bonus of being inexpensive and easy to clean. A woven bag like this one by Made Trade is perfect for summer, or go a bit old school with one of the many iterations of The Sak

Utilitarian and Ultra-Useful

We’re all tired of destroying our shoulders and backs lugging everything and the kitchen sink around, so we’re switching to what (actually) works and is comfortable for every day. For many of us, this means backpacks. Perfect for toting a laptop or tablet and capable of holding water bottles and more in a more comfortable way that most handbags, we’ve embraced the backpack. And so has Longchamp. This backpack from one of our favorite classic French tote brands is about as chic as this type of bag can get. 

So if we are living in a post-designer handbag world, what bag(s) are you carrying now? Have you ever been a label or logo gal, or have you always shunned the obvious designer look? What bags have been your favorites? Let us know in the comments or in our Growing Younger Facebook group. 

Shop Today’s Handbag Styles

Pictured above from left to right:

Telfar Large Shopping Bag, $257
 (Note that these will be different all the time with their drop-style sales.)

Nisolo Lori Tote, now $109

Cuyana Messenger Bag, $378

Baggu Horizontal Duck Bag, $34

Balenciaga Leather Travel Bag, $1,550

Magda Made Guadalupe Bag, $75

The Sak 120 Hobo Bali Beads, $149

Longchamp Le Pliage Club Backpack, now $89.97

–Jacqueline Zenn

You may like to read more of Jacqueline’s fashion styling posts like Chic and Practical Athletic Wear Pieces For Women over 40 and How To Wear Lace for Spring 2022 If You’re Over 40

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