'90s Handbag Trends Were Elite—5 Chic Styles I'm Suddenly Seeing Everywhere Again

Personally, I'm all for nostalgia. If I'm picking the film, it's probably going to be an early 2000s or 80s rom-com. I've watched re-runs of Friends and Sex and The City more times than I'd like to count. And recently, my searches on second hand fashion sites have been focused on one decade: the '90s.

This decade-specific search isn't just because the Instagram account @90sanxiety is one of my favourite accounts to follow. Over the past year, I've noticed more and more throwback styles coming back into fashion, whether it's influencers proudly wearing the real-deal items that they've sourced from their favourite vintage spots, or high street staples coming out with modern takes on iconic silhouettes.


(Image credit: Getty Images)

If the sartorial '90s style isn't quite for you—personally I don't think I can pull off the whole capri trouser and baby t-shirt look—then may I suggest looking at the world of accessories? The decade was marked by the release of some true handbag icons, from the glamorous Fendi Baguette to the more elegant Lady Dior. These famous fashion houses have continued to release new versions of these legendary silhouettes, but you'll also find that other designers and more affordable high street favourites have also riffed on the aesthetic to create their own versions, too.

Whether you're after the exact vintage item or a modern take on the throwback look, these are the five handbag styles I've seen jump out of the '90s and straight onto the arms of 2024's fashionable set.

1. Baguette

@emilisindlev wearing a silver Fendi baguette bag with pink cardigan and jeans

(Image credit: @emilisindlev)

Style Notes: Perhaps no bag better represents the '90s than the Fendi Baguette. Released in 1997, the petite style that tucks so chicly under the arm displaced the practical backpacks that had previously dominated. And of course, once Carrie Bradshaw started sporting numerous versions throughout Sex and the City's run, it became a true accessory icon. Nowadays, clever hunters can nab original '90s styles on second hand sites, as well as Fendi's fresh take on their signature silhouette. But there are plenty of more affordable dupes to explore, too. And ok, this one isn't suddenly popping up everywhere again, but still, it has had a huge comeback in the last few years.

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2. Barrel

@camillecharriere wearing a Louis Vuitton barrel bag with a green skirt set

(Image credit: @camillecharriere)

Style Notes: On the more irreverent side of the '90s fashion spectrum is the barrel bag. These cylindrical bags first started appearing in the late 90s, and then became a staple item in the Y2K era. For a truly 90s look, opt for a logomania style like Camille's Louis Vuitton-emblazoned silhouette. For a more modern, minimalist take, there are plenty of sleek black styles to try out.

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3. Crescent

@_jeanettemadsen_ holding a Prada bag

(Image credit: @_jeanettemadsen_)

Style notes: As the name suggests, the defining feature of this style is its curved shape that creates a half-moon silhouette. Originally spotted in the 60s, it wasn't until the late '90s that crescent bags truly began to become a go-to for the fashion crowd, largely due to Yves Saint Laurent releasing their iconic Mombasa Bag. These days, luxury designers and high street favourites alike have turned to this silhouette as a more directional take than the classic square shoulder bag.

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4. Boxy Minis

@nnennaechem wearing a black dress and mini bag

(Image credit: @nnennaechem)

Style Notes: Think of the '90s and many fashion icons come to mind, but for Dior the ultimate star was Princess Diana. So in 1995, to celebrate her visit to Paris, they released the boxy Chouchou silhouette—which was renamed the Lady Dior in her honour a year later. The square, top handle silhouette is emblematic of the more refined, sophisticated style of the era as a contrast to the minimalist, edgy looks of the other silhouettes.

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5. Ultra-Narrow

@nlmarilyn wearing capri pants and a white shirt with a narrow black bag

(Image credit: @nlmarilyn)

Style Notes: Also known as the "East West" bag, these narrow silhouettes perfectly represent that '90s obsession with neat, minimalist handbags that fit neatly under the arm. The sleek, angular shape has continued to be a popular choice for designers ever since, with ALAÏA, Jacquemus and more releasing versions that have become cult fashion finds.

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Freelance Fashion Editor

Jess Kelham-Hohler is a freelance writer, editor and content strategist. She has been a contributor for Who What Wear UK since 2023. Currently based in London following six years in Washington D.C. and New York, she was previously the Digital Editor for Soho House & Co, an international group of private members’ clubs for creatives. She has interviewed a range of artists, creators and more, including Alighieri founder Rosh Mahtani, photographer Misan Harriman and fashion editor Lindsay Peoples Wagner. Today, she writes primarily about fashion, travel and culture for various publications, and has worked as a copywriter and content strategist for brands such as Belstaff, Olivela and Equinox.