5 Buzzy Shoulder Bags That Are Both Trend-Forward and Timeless

a collage of runway images featuring models wearing trendy designer shoulder bags
(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight/Tod's; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Bevza; Courtesy 16Arlington; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Rokh; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Blumarine)

Here's a thought starter for you: What's the one basic fashion item you can't live without? For some, it might be the perfect ribbed tank top. Others might find it impossible to get dressed without their beloved jeans. But we'd like to propose another item that every wardrobe requires: a great handbag. It's easy for accessories to become an afterthought when you're building an arsenal of basics, but at the end of the day, no matter how many pockets you have in your pants, nothing comes close to the pragmatism of a purse.

Of course, we'd be lying if we said that all bags are created equal. There have been far too many examples of handbag trends that are not functional for everyday life (sorry, micro bags). Nevertheless, some handbags do manage to meld functionality with fashion. Enter shoulder bags. When it comes to handbags that hold up over time, no other silhouette can match the shoulder bag's enduring popularity, and for good reason. Not only are they easy to wear, but they're also elegant and roomy enough to hold the essentials.

That being said, it only makes sense that you'd want to treat this accessory like any other clothing staple by investing in a bag you know will become a part of your forever wardrobe. Of course, you can find affordable versions of this handbag if that's your prerogative. But because the shape of this bag is classic, it's one of the few items you can rightfully justify splurging on. If you still find yourself wondering which designer shoulder bags are actually worth investing in, you'll want to keep reading.

In search of that answer, we scoured the spring/summer 2024 runway collections to identify five types of shoulder bag shapes that strike the perfect balance between timeless and trend-forward. These styles will make weary shoppers finally see the value in securing a shoulder bag once and for all. So, without further ado, let's get into it…

1. East-to-West Shapes

a collage of models wearing shoulder bags on the runway with east-to-west shapes

(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight/Ferragamo; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Tod's; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Gucci)

We can assume that when most people envision a designer shoulder bag, they're likely thinking of one specific shape: the baguette. The rectangular silhouette has remained relevant for years, thanks mainly to popular designer iterations from Fendi. But it's not the only shoulder-bag shape worth having on your mind. If you're clamoring to get your hands on a style that feels outside the box, you'll want to turn to the east-to-west handbag trend. Spotted throughout S/S 24 collections, the silhouette is a close cousin to the baguette in the sense that it's still four-sided but with a more elongated profile that stretches horizontally (reference the style in Ferragamo, Tod's, and Gucci's collections). The slight nod to the beloved baguette shape gives the profile a more modern touch without sacrificing the pragmatism of the purse altogether.

2. Haute Hobos

three images of models wearing hobo bags on the runway

(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight/Rokh; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Loewe; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Brandon Maxwell)

Another purse shape that always stays in style no matter the season? Hobo shoulder bags. Love or hate them, there’s no denying that this type of handbag has a grip on the fashion set. What’s made them so alluring over the years is the innate functionality of their shape, which typically boasts a spacious interior and comfortable shoulder strap. Designers have continued reinventing the profile, including it in their recent S/S 24 collections.

Although former versions of this bag may have been widely associated with the boho fashion aesthetic, we saw the style elevate through details that one could only describe as "haute." For example, in Brandon Maxwell’s collection, supple leather was adorned with gold hardware wrapped around the bag’s shoulder strap. At Loewe, the silhouette was accompanied by ruching, a plushy handle, and an ornamental chain. Both were prime examples of how the hobo bag reached a new level of sophistication this season.

3. Prickly Purses

a collage of models on the spring 2024 runway wearing shoulder bags with sharp angles

(Image credit: Courtesy of 16Arlington; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Blumarine; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Bevza)

By now, you might be thinking that these shoulder bags are cute but don't feel bold. We get it. One of the hardest things about acquiring the perfect purse is finding one that walks that fine line between minimalism and maximalism. Luckily, designers dialed up the drama this season by embracing a trend we're dubbing "prickly purses," aka shoulder bags with an edgier feel. Although there were various iterations of the trend to be found across the S/S 24 collections, the throughline was that the purses needed to feel as if they could almost prick your fingertips due to their sharpness. For example, the crescent-shaped shoulder bag was made cooler in 16Arlington's collection by adding angular fold-over pockets, ensuring that no one goes rummaging through your beloved bag. Similarly, at Ukrainian fashion brand Bevza's show, a beige shoulder bag came in a quadrilateral shape adorned with unique hardware. Then, there was Bluamarine's show, in which slim, triangle-shaped shoulder bags were emphasized further through shiny patent-leather finishes. Each was an example that the beloved style can be cutting edge if you're willing to take the risk of touching them. 

4. Circa 1950s

a collage of models wearing frame shoulder bags on the runway

(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight/Bevza; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Aeron; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Bally)

For the well-versed in fashion history, you know that some accessories have stuck around for decades—the frame shoulder bag being one of them. First popularized circa the 1950s, the style is characterized by its picture frame–esque structured shape, long top handles, and signature kiss-lock closure hardware. Over the years, we’ve seen luxury houses like Dior and Saint Laurent reimagine the silhouette, including more recently in the S/S 24 collections.

Of course, more traditional iterations of the shape have been petite and boxy. Just look at the continued popularity of Jil Sander’s Goji Frame Bag, for example. We’ve also seen traditional designers adopting the shape of the long handbag and giving it a fresh feel. At the same time, we saw brands like Aeron, Bevza, and Saint Laurent elongate the profile to give it a folder-like feel that felt even more polished. This proves that some shoulder bags only get better with time.

5. Supersized Shoppers

A collage of models wearing large shopping tote bags on the shoulder on the spring summer 2024 runway

(Image credit: Courtesy of 3.1 Phillip Lim; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Bottega Veneta; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Givenchy)

Lastly, we'd be remiss to exclude one of the most pragmatic versions of the shoulder bag: the tote. For many reasons, oversize carryalls that can be thrown over the shoulder have become the bag of choice for everyday life. But finding a truly stylish tote bag can feel challenging. We've seen large bags garner a massive presence on the runway, including throughout the S/S 24 collections. But make no mistake—these aren't your basic run-of-the-mill tote bags. This year, designers elevated them by playing with proportions, materials, and hardware.

For instance, at Bottega Veneta's spring show, the style was oversize and made from supple woven leather. Similarly, the tote bag was made groundbreaking at Givenchy by the addition of unique buckle hardware. Although seemingly minor, adding these details made a difference in creating an exciting shopper tote. It served as a reminder that while it's easy to overlook some of the staple accessories in our lives for more "exciting" trends, practicality still plays a large role in our day-to-day activities.

Jasmine Fox-Suliaman

Jasmine Fox-Suliaman is a fashion editor living in New York City. What began as a hobby (blogging on Tumblr) transformed into a career dedicated to storytelling through various forms of digital media. She started her career at the print publication 303 Magazine, where she wrote stories, helped produce photo shoots, and planned Denver Fashion Week. After moving to Los Angeles, she worked as MyDomaine's social media editor until she was promoted to work across all of Clique's publications (MyDomaine, Byrdie, and Who What Wear) as the community manager. Over the past few years, Jasmine has worked on Who What Wear's editorial team, using her extensive background to champion rising BIPOC designers, weigh in on viral trends, and profile stars such as Janet Mock and Victoria Monét. She is especially interested in exploring how art, fashion, and pop culture intersect online and IRL.