The One Bag a Fashion Editor Swears By for Every Occasion

Updated 10/11/19
Day to Night Bags
Melodie Jeng/Getty Images

Another work week, another set of five outfits to wear to the office and beyond—as if it were actually that simple. Well, it turns out there is an item that makes things that simple: a handbag. Since we're always running between meetings during the day and then attending work-related events or catching up with friends in the evening, we know how crucial it is to have a handbag that goes with everything and strikes the perfect balance between form and function. To figure out where exactly to find said dream bag, we decided to ask our fashion-savvy colleagues over at Who What Wear. Unsurprisingly, managing editor Michelle Scanga knew exactly what direction to point us in.

"The key is to opt for a bag that has a shoulder strap and top handle (think Loewe's puzzle bag)," she explains. This way, "you get the convenience of going hands-free with the shoulder strap" while you run "to and from the office. And then for the evening, you can go for a chicer look and carry your bag by the top handle." One and done. See? It's pretty simple once you know what to shop for.

With Scanga's style insight in mind, we curated a wish list of the 15 chicest top-handle bags with adjustable (and in many cases, detachable) shoulder straps, from whimsical and colorful to structural and minimalist styles. Since we made sure to choose pieces that'll enhance pretty much any ensemble at a variety of price points, the hardest part is choosing which one your wardrobe needs the most. Some are even roomy enough to schlep your laptop if need be. So without further ado, scroll through the best 15 bags on the market that seamlessly transition from day to night. Your dream purse awaits.

Young Leather Shoulder Bag
Danse Lente Young Leather Shoulder Bag $455
Shop

Danse Lente's architectural tote bag is simple, though it's anything but boring. With keyhole-shaped detailing along the sides to adjust the strap as needed, it epitomizes form meets function. There's also plenty of room for a tablet if you're bringing it to and from the office or on a trip.

Mansur Gavriel Suede Resin Handle Satchel $745
Shop

Mansur Gavriel has crystallized as a go-to brand for minimalist, timeless bags and shoes. With unique but versatile styles and hues, these retro-inspired bags are super durable, guaranteeing that they'll last a lifetime. This Ferrari red satchel is a combination of smooth calf leather and Italian suede, and the polished, gold handle is embellished with red enamel. It also comes with a removable shoulder strap, so you can adjust it to your liking depending on comfort and occasion.

Romeo Top Handle
Boyy Romeo Top Handle $835
Shop

This butter-soft leather bag is the perfect balance between feminine and masculine design. With a hip oversize buckle, elegant top handle, and deep marine-green hue, it'll look good with anything and everything.

Snake-effect leather cross-body bag
Simone Rocha Snake-Effect Leather Cross-Body Bag $953
Shop

This compact crossbody bag will bring the perfect amount of dressy vibes without being too formal for daytime errands, thanks to the chocolate-brown snakeskin-effect leather style. Pair it with flats and jeans, or a sweater dress and boots as we transition into fall.

Small Julia Bag in Sulfur
Creatures of Comfort Small Julia Bag in Sulfur $410
Shop

This mustard-yellow suede bag features everything you need in one place. With a detachable, adjustable strap and detachable matching wallet, you can carry this tote around like a shopper or wear it as a crossbody. If you have a neutral wardrobe, this is the perfect item to introduce for a pop of color that isn't overly bright.

The Utility in White
Kozha Numbers The Utility in White $225
Shop

If you're looking for a bright-white bag to upgrade your daily style, here's your best bet. This handcrafted boxy leather bag can be held by the short rubber straps or swung over your shoulder. We love the contrasting materials of leather and rubber for a subtly unique twist.

Jacquemus Black Le Sac Rond Bag $850
Shop

You can always count on Jacquemus for forward-thinking, cutting-edge designs. We love the contrast between the clean-lined trapezoid, organic round shape, and glamorous chain-link trim. The suede material makes it sophisticated, while the avant-garde silhouette brings in elements of intrigue. And other than its impeccable design, this bag is also super practical thanks to the detachable and adjustable shoulder strap.

La Collectionneuse Nude
M2Malletier La Collectionneuse Nude $1665
Shop

The glossy patent leather exterior and gold double-bar top handle make this bag about as elegant as it gets. It'll instantly dress up any outfit while simultaneously managing to not overpower it. But don't let its dainty silhouette fool you; there's also plenty of space inside for your knickknacks and essentials.

Tanguy Textured Leather-trimmed Suede Shoulder Bag
Jerome Dreyfuss Tanguy Textured Leather-Trimmed Suede Shoulder Bag $910
Shop

If you like the look and feel of a slouchier bag, this plush suede piece is for you. Jerome Dreyfuss's bags always come with a signature mini flashlight too, so you'll never have to fumble for your keys or cell phone in the roomy interior. For a dressier vibe, carry it by the gold chain-link and leather handle, or throw it over your shoulder when your hands are full while running errands.

Bissett Leather Bucket Bag
Staud Bissett Leather Bucket Bag $350
Shop

This relaxed, simple purse is lightweight in material but packs a lot of style punch. While it does come in a variety of neutral leather colors, we had to include this fun bubble gum–pink variation. It'll introduce some whimsy and wit into your office look and effortlessly transition with you into the evening.

- Boyd Vanity Matte-leather Shoulder Bag - Black
Eddie Borgo Boyd Vanity Matte-Leather Shoulder Bag in Black $890 $356
Shop

This sleek Eddie Borgo bag features a black matte-leather face with a practical snap-fastening front flap and chrome handle as well as a shoulder strap.

Zara Convertible Bucket Bag $30
Shop

This icy-blue leather bucket bag is super affordable and easy to style. With silver hardware and an adjustable strap, you can throw it over your shoulder or carry it as a handbag with the top handle.

Oversized curb-chain leather shoulder bag
Marques'Almeida Oversized Curb-Chain Leather Shoulder Bag $547
Shop

Aside from being trendsetting and impeccably crafted, this Marques Almeida khaki-green shoulder bag also has a sense of humor, as it plays with proportion and shape. We love that the simple bag is defined by a chunky black-resin curb-chain top handle for an extra dose of personality. The compact shape makes it easy to carry around, making it the perfect piece for anyone with contemporary yet classic sensibilities.

3.1 Phillip Lim Grey Mini Alix Top Handle Satchel $695
Shop

This smooth, gray top-handle bag is organic and minimalist, adding just the right amount of personal style to any ensemble. It's structural without appearing too rigid, which also lends itself to dressed-up and dressed-down looks.

Mansur Gavriel Tan Leather Mini Sun Tote $695
Shop

With twin rolled carry handles and a self-tie drawstring, this classic bag is a style staple. It looks elegant and easy when carried by the top handles on a night out and is just as chic when you fasten the shoulder strap for practical use throughout the day. There's also a pocket mirror attached to the interior in case you need to touch up on the go.

Related Stories