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Usually, I’m able to call out three to five trends that are guaranteed to be a hit for any given season. That said, as I started building my 2021 wardrobe, I couldn’t help but notice literally all handbags and purses following the same exact formula: puffy, slouchy, scrunchie (Is this the new classy, bougie, ratchet?!). It’s true—2021’s bag trends all revolved around the exact same look: a laid-back but still luxe approach to leather.
When I was a kid, I remember favoring a brown paper bag over my cartoon-themed tin lunch box. I can’t explain why, but the neutral bag with its bunched nape just seemed ~cooler~, and I was sure my playground peers would notice. I don’t think my bag actually won me any cool points back then, but it seems as though I predicted 2021’s top bag trend at an early age. Pretty much all of the bags I’ve got my eye on right now are ruched and slouchy, and while there are a few pops of fun color, they lean mostly neutral.
Of course, it’s no secret how this trend came about. When Bottega Veneta dropped their almost-$3K The Pouch, it immediately shot to the Instagram Explore page of every fashionista from London to Los Angeles. The “It Bag” of the moment has inspired a whole new wave of design; suddenly, brands known for structured leather goods are opting for softer silhouettes, and details like ruching and weaving give soft, supple leathers some texture and flair.
If you’re saving up to splurge on the Bottega original, I salute you—that said, know you can totally shop the look for less, as tons of brands are dropping gorgeous bags inspired by The Pouch and its laissez-faire leather look. Staud has some of my personal favorites, and Coach’s Pillow Tabby Bag has been on my must-have list for months, but I digress. When the bags look this good, I’d rather show you than tell you.
With that, read on for 12 slouchy handbags in tune with 2021’s top bag trends, and consider kicking your structured staple to the curb.
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1. Chill Vegan Leather Frame Clutch
The top affordable bag on my wishlist is this House of Want clutch with a chunky chain, available in not only black but also taupe or yellow. We love options!
2. Oversized Ruched Bag
This little clutch from ASOS has all that ruched, gathered goodness, and can be dressed up or down depending on your needs. TBH, I’d love it with a long gown and a leather jacket for rockstar vibes. For under $30, I might buy it in tan too.
3. The Pouch
Ah, the bag that started it all. Bottega Veneta’s The Pouch is a seriously stunning clutch that comes in a ton of colors. It’s definitely an investment piece, to say the least.
4. Pillow Tabby Shoulder Bag 26
If you’ve managed to get this far into the year without seeing this bag from Coach one million times over, props to you—and I don’t know how you did it. While everyone has been obsessing over the green colorway, I prefer this hot pink version.
5. Dumpling Shoulder Bag
The pale lavender hue of this slouchy shoulder bag makes it a great addition to any spring wardrobe. Pastels are everywhere this season, so this pick will fit in perfectly.
6. Wanda Leather Clutch Bag
Brown is one of this season’s most in-demand colors so yes, you need a new cocoa-colored bag to match all of your outfits. Luckily, this bag from STAND STUDIO has you covered.
7. Mini Cloud Leather Clutch
The Mansur Gavriel Mini Cloud Leather Clutch is a great option for anyone looking to invest, but not quite ready to drop some Bottega-level coin. Plus, this Terracotta shade is to die for.
8. Mila Shoulder Bag
The JW Pei Mila Shoulder Bag comes in a number of fun shades like this light pink hue. The boxy shape it gives it a little more structure than some of the other, softer bags on this list. Priced at under $80, she’s a steal.
9. Bean Bag
Another bag with some exceptional ruching is STAUD’s Bean Bag, a tiny, soft rectangle of either silk satin or leather, depending on your color preference. Personally, this light green hue speaks to me, but it comes in neutral tones as well.
10. Mini Saki Bag
The Nunoo Mini Saki Bag is top of the list when it comes to nailing 2021’s bag trends in a unique way. It’s just different enough from the rest of the options on this list so it’s great if you’re only trying to dip a toe into the trend.
11. Vague Bag
If you’re looking for a staple neutral clutch for 2021 evenings out (will we have those??), Elleme’s Vague Bag is it. The pleated ruching looks especially luxe on cowhide leather. I also am obsessed with the monochrome strap.
12. Soft Faux Leather Clutch
Last but not least, don’t sleep on Nordstrom’s name brand! This faux leather clutch is a gorgeous option for just under $100, complete with gathered detailing and a chain tucked inside for when you want to rock it over-the-shoulder.