10 Things I Hate in Handbag Designs

[Hermès Kelly 32cm Ostrich Bag in Tangerine. Image: christies.com]

Since I did a big handbag post yesterday, I’m kind of in the mood! While I was composing my wishlist, I was thinking of handbag features that I truly dislike. I’m talking strictly aesthetics, here—no bitching about brands I don’t like, environmentally-unfriendly manufacturing practices, celebrity spokespeople I irrationally dislike, or anything of the sort. Here are my top 10 handbag design pet peeves:


Non-adjustable shoulder and crossbody straps. This is the biggie for me as a short person. Sometimes, even the shortest setting is still too long for me on semi-adjustable straps! I understand that fully adjustable straps look more at home on casual and rugged bags, and that they would cost more to make, but I have not bought bags simply because their shoulder or crossbody straps are too long for me. I imagine tall people have the opposite issue. Not everyone is the same size, nor does everyone like to have their bag drop at the same height! If I’ve already paid a lot of money for a bag, I don’t want to also have to pay a cobbler to adjust the strap for me (granted, it was pretty easy to get a cobbler to punch a new hole in a Tory Burch strap, but I was too leery to have them do it to my Chloés, so I just wear them a little bit lower than I’d prefer). I adore my Linea Pelle and Fossil bags because they have fully adjustable straps.

Ironically, my favorite bag doesn’t have an adjustable strap—I’m just lucky that its long strap somehow fits me perfectly both on the shoulder and crossbody:

Givenchy Pandora Medium Satchel in Cobalt
Givenchy Pandora Medium Satchel in Cobalt (mine is a different color).
Image: net-a-porter.com



Top handles that stick up when using the shoulder strap option. I do have a bag that does this (and one of my wishlist bags, the original Givenchy Nightingale, does as well), but the handles of these bags are low-profile and floppy, so they are less annoying. The Mini Pashli, pictured below, also just about gets away with it because the bag is so pretty…

3.1 Phillip Lim Mini Pashli in Dusty Blue
3.1 Phillip Lim Mini Pashli in Dusty Blue.
Image: shopbop.com



North-South shape. How are you supposed to find anything in a bag that’s taller than it is wide? Particularly if the bag is kind of narrow to begin with.

Sophie Hulme Mini Albion Tote in Blue (SSENSE Exclusive)
Sophie Hulme Mini Albion Tote in Blue (SSENSE Exclusive).
Image: ssense.com



Fringe. I just don’t like fringe. (Bangs are OK. I love Fringe, though.) Some fringe bags are not too bad, like this recent Chloé—though I still wouldn’t want it. Most just give me the heebie-jeebies:

Nanette Lepore Twisted Fringe Hobo
Nanette Lepore Twisted Fringe Hobo.
Image: shopbop.com
Stella McCartney Falabella Studded Fringe Shoulder Bag
Stella McCartney Falabella Studded Fringe Shoulder Bag.
Image: nordstrom.com



Ostrich and other awful textures. I think ostrich leather looks diseased. (The Birkin below auctioned for $20k at Christie’s, so what do I know?)

Hermès Birkin 35cm in Fuchsia Ostrich
Hermès Birkin 35cm in Fuchsia Ostrich.
Image: christies.com



Boring or obnoxious lining. Plain black lining is terrible, as it turns the bag into a black hole. Come on, give us some pretty lining! Obnoxious lining is obviously subjective, but I hated the old MARC by Marc Jacobs signature lining so much that I refused to buy the Baby Aidan that I otherwise quite liked. On the other hand, I love the lining on this bag, but some others find it one of Rebecca Minkoff’s most annoying (she changes her lining every season or so, or at least she used to).

MARC by Marc Jacobs MbMJ Eliz-a-Baby Diaper Bag with Jumble Print lining
MARC by Marc Jacobs Eliz-a-Baby Diaper Bag with Jumble Print lining.
Image: forlifewithlittles.wordpress.com



Faces I cannot unsee. For example, the Céline Luggage Tote looks like an unamused face with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of its mouth.

Céline Luggage Tote
Céline Luggage Tote.
Image: celine.com



Blatant knockoffs. I know everyone is inspired by everyone else and that’s just fine. But straight up unimaginative copies, like Steve Madden’s, are not my cup of tea.

Steve Madden copies Mansur Gavriel Bucket Tote
Steve Madden copies Mansur Gavriel Bucket Tote [left].
Image: lawyerinlanvin.com
Steve Madden copies Stelle McCartney Falabella Tote (and gets sued)
Steve Madden copies Stella McCartney Falabella Tote [right] (and gets sued).
Image: fashionunited.com


Logos that are visible from space. That’s you, Michael Kors and Tory Burch. I admit that I do own a Tory Burch Amanda Hobo, which has, by a long stretch, the most massive logo of any bag I own. I only have it because I had to get something with Beyond the Rack store credit, and there was nothing else I remotely wanted. It’s a nice bag, just stupidly heavy due to the medallion logo. (Also, the red leather dye rubbed all over my white linen shirt the last time I wore it. I don’t own any other Tory Burch stuff, nor do I buy anything from Beyond the Rack anymore.)
All that said, I still kind of want a Gucci Disco Soho. I’m getting weak in my old age, I tell you…

Gucci Disco Soho in Red
Gucci Disco Soho in Red.
Image: gucci.com



Monogram Print. Coach, Fendi, Gucci, Guess, Louis Vuitton, MCM, Michael Kors, and plenty more—like to use monogrammed patterns all over their bags. Burberry check falls into this category, too. Some love it, some hate it, and I fall into the latter category. It’s less obnoxious to me with tiny patterns, however, and I will also give a pass to Louis Vuitton’s recently discontinued Multicolore line, just because it’s kind of unreasonably cute and tacky.

Louis Vuitton Monogram Multicolore Alma PM Bag
Louis Vuitton Monogram Multicolore Alma PM Bag.
Image: purseblog.com


What are your handbag pet peeves?

(Oh, and if you know of a bag that combines several of my 10 pet peeves, I would love to see it! Haha!)



20 thoughts on “10 Things I Hate in Handbag Designs

  1. I agree so much with #1, #2, #9 and #10! In addition, I don’t like handles that are rounded – I find them too stiff and digs into my shoulders, I prefer flat handles.
    I also don’t love bags that have flap closures or the ones that just flop down – I prefer zippered closures BUT I’ve made exceptions (Roots Mademoiselle).
    Hahaah #7! I can’t unsee that now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I contemplated adding rounded/rolled handles to my list, but I actually do have a fair number of round-handled bags, so I guess they don’t bother me as much as I thought they did. Some flat handles bother me, too (usually if they’re too wide so they keep slipping off my shoulder).

      I agree that flap styles make it more annoying to get into a bag. I don’t have very many – usually they’re dressier bags so I’m not getting in and out of them all the time.

      #7 – Used to see these bags everywhere…faces, everywhere!!! Ahhhhhh…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with everything you said- and also with stashy, I need/want a zipper closure! This is why I rarely buy handbags- it’s not often that I find one that meets my criteria, there is usually something I don’t love about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad I’m not the only person who sees faces in things, my family think I’m odd sometimes for seeing that!

    I used to have a fringed bag from Mischa Barton which was very of the moment 5 or 6 years ago – I had so many compliments on it at the time but I don’t think it will ever get worn again now!

    I don’t like monogram prints or big logos, feels like a walking advertisement, none of the MK bags I own have any large badges or logos on, just the subtle plates or letters, I’m turned off by them too.

    I don’t mind a knock off personally – I think not everyone has the budget for expensive bags and whilst I’ll save for a style I really like it’s not a luxury everyone can afford – but I don’t like it when brands that are the same price point knock each other off, that seems unfair!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had no idea Mischa Barton had a line of bags! LOL. I guess everyone does, these days. It’s got a great shape – I’d like it sans fringe 😉

      I’m not averse to getting “inspired-by” bags, either – it’s great to have options at all price points! I don’t delude myself that RM’s bags are all original and I have loads of her bags. They used to be more Balenciaga-ish but recently her stuff has been more “copy”-like than inspired, so I haven’t been as into her new stuff. Two of hers I actually prefer to the originals are the old MAB/MAM (Balenciaga Metro, I just learned off TPF!) and the newer Love Crossbody (Chanel Boy…I know, the Chanel fans are clutching their pearls now).

      And YES, high-end brands knocking each other off is too ridiculous 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Totally agree with everything here; a new criteria that’s now on my list is structured bags. I own a few and while they may look pretty, I never use them. I like my bags “squishy” for lack of a better word. 😏

    Liked by 1 person

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