These Anti-Trend Luxury Handbags Say "I'm in the Know"

Sometimes it’s good to go loud with your wardrobe. Big birthdays, weddings and nights out—they’re all a bit more fun when feathers and sequins are involved. But when it comes to handbags—an accessory you carry with you day in, day out—it’s my opinion (as a stylist of almost a decade) that the quieter and more understated, the better. Less fuss and fewer logos mean the bag will not only be more versatile, but it also won’t age, making it a much smarter long-term investment. It’s also true that a pared-back handbag that lets quality and design speak for it will always elevate your outfits and make them look more expensive. 


(Image credit: @alexisforeman)

Alexis styles her simple COS bag with an all white outfit. 

You’ll be glad to hear, then, that I’ve compiled an edit below of the best minimalist handbags of all time for you to peruse, just in case you happen to be in the market for your next purchase. Some are luxury icons that have already been around for decades, proving their worth a hundred times over, and some are newer designs I can confidently say have a lot of life in them yet. There are high-end additions and there are some more affordable options too, but they all make for timeless investments it would be hard to regret.

At first sight, there might not seem to be anything particularly special or recognisable about these bags, but put any of them in front of a fashion person, and not only will we identify them a mile away, but you’ll also have us swooning instantly and waxing lyrical about their design history, handcrafted quality or known celebrity fans. Rest assured these are the styles that are perennially on our editor wish lists. They all subtly say "I’m in the know” and quite simply make all outfits look chic, without the need for any shouty logos or cult designs with a short sell-by date. 

Keep scrolling, then, to see and shop the 18 quiet luxury bag heroes that make valuable wardrobe investments.

1. Tote Bags


(Image credit: @nlmarilyn)

Shop Tote Bags:

2. Satchel Bags


(Image credit: @symphonyofsilk)

Shop Satchel Bags:

3. Shoulder Bags


(Image credit: @monikh)

Shop Shoulder Bags:

4. Crossbody Bags


(Image credit: @simplytandya)

Shop Crossbody Bags:

5. Clutch Bags


(Image credit: @anoukyve)

Shop Clutch Bags:

This piece was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated. 

Opening Image: @anoukyve

Emily Dawes
Affiliate Editor

Emily Dawes is the very definition of a fashion multi hyphenate. An editor, stylist and writer with over eleven years’ worth of experience in the industry, Emily is known for her impeccable taste, elegant outfit choices and being able to spot the next big thing in fashion from a mile off. Our readers loyally trust her advice and shopping suggestions; so much so she began her own column documenting the most expensive-looking pieces on the high street, which has become a top-performing piece of content for the Who What Wear brand.

Emily has worked for Who What Wear UK since 2020 in a myriad as roles, spanning from contributing editor and branded content editor. Now, she holds the position of affiliate editor and is responsible for the brand’s overall affiliate strategy, ideation and content execution. Working closely with Who What Wear UK’s affiliate manager, Emily has been instrumental in securing and nourishing brand partnerships, surpassing her goals as standard. Leading the team in tentpole shopping moments including Black Friday and Peak Trading, with Emily’s guidance and leadership, team Who What Wear is in a stronger affiliate position than ever before.

Prior to joining the Who What Wear team, Emily served as YOU Magazine’s acting fashion editor where she managed the fashion team and oversaw all fashion content output for the fast-paced weekly title. Emily is a stylist in her own right, having worked with a slew of VIP clients including writer and television personality, Elizabeth Day, as well as styling and art directing several celebrity cover shoots for glossy print publication, Grazia. Her adept fashion knowledge means brands regularly sought out to work with her as a consultant: previously she has developed marketing and content plans for brands for Cocoon and Edge of Ember. Before entering the industry, Emily obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English and American Studies with International Study from Nottingham University. Fun fact: Emily spent a year studying in America which saw her join a sorority during her time there.

When she’s not working or tracking down the chicest, new-in items to share with our audience, you’ll find Emily bestowing her East London home with her stylish flair, reading everything from the classics to cowboy romance novels and escaping to the country with husband, baby boy and dog, Roo, whenever she can.

Emily is currently on maternity leave.