Ever since indie brand Mansur Gavriel hit the scene and introduced its pared-down bucket bag, the handbag game changed, shifting in favor of low-key, minimalist handbags.
Now, many of the most covetable carryalls are identifiable only to those in the know. With only supple leather, sturdy construction and clever design to set their bags apart from the pack, brands can’t fall back on gimmicks in order to make them sell.
But then, of course, there’s the cost: While handbags may be big business for many designers, from the shopper’s standpoint, finding something that hits the sweet spot between head-spinningly expensive and so cheap it falls apart within a few wears is not always an easy task.
High-end labels like Céline and Saint Laurent price even their smaller bags around the $2,000 mark, while at the midrange price point, leather goods tend to be adorned with conspicuous logos that can make a bag feel dated faster than expected.
Thus, the enduring appeal of minimalist totes, satchels and cross-bodies with relatively attainable price tags (not cheap, mind you, but definitely more proportionate to the quality).
Here, we’ve rounded up 17 subtle, sophisticated bags that will satisfy your craving for unfussy accessorizing. And we assure you: The quality to price ratio on all of these should be stacked in your favor.
A version of this article was originally published in February 2016.
Matt & Nat BEE Grass
This over-the-shoulder bag has an adjustable strap and 100 percent recycled nylon lining.
Matt & Nat BEE Grass, $66 at Matt & Nat
Matt & Nat.
Steven Alan Oliver Circle Bag
Everyone needs a versatile, day-to-day crossbody. And this one comes with a detachable shoulder strap.
Steven Alan Oliver circle bag, $195 at Steven Alan
Creatures of Comfort Bucket Bag Small Morocco
This neutral-colored, colorblocked shoulder bag is exactly what we want draped over our summer dresses.
Creatures of Comfort bucket bag small Morocco, $580 at Creatures of Comfort
Creatures of Comfort.
Cuero & Mør Perla Bucket
This Perla bucket comes with your choice of strap: crossbody leather strap, chain and crossbody leather strap or short wide leather strap and chain.
Cuero & Mør Perla bucket, $680 at Cuero & Mør
Cuero & Mør.
Everlane Petra Backpack
This isn't your typical backpack; it's a luxury backpack with an ultrasuede lining and leather drawstrings.
Everlane Petra backpack, $231-$297 at Everlane
Sage Femme Light Gray Crossbody
We're living for this bag's calf suede interior.
Sage Femme light gray crossbody, $531 at Sage Femme
Baggu Circle Purse
One touch of the soft, uncoated leather will make you want to purchase immediately.
Baggu circle purse, $180 at Baggu
Simon Miller Bonsai Bag
How adorable is this mini bucket bag? It's versatile, too: Take it to brunch or bring it with you on a night out.
Simon Miller Bonsai Bag, $390 at Need Supply Co.
Need Supply Co.
Trademark Sybil Leather Bag
The colors, the interior pockets, that trendy bucket shape: We're obsessed.
Trademark Sybil leather bag, $498 at Trademark
COS Structured Leather Shoulder Bag
The style is simple, but this is one high-quality bag that'll last (thanks to its long-lasting leather).
COS structured leather shoulder bag, $115 at COS
Mlouye Mini Flex Hobo Bag
This small, architectural bag makes a big statement with its origami-inspired collapsible top panel.
Mlouye Mini Flex Hobo bag, $385 at Need Supply Co.
Need Supply Co.
Ssense Building Block Black Business Tote
Made with "vegetable-tanned leather" (not sure what that means, but we're here for it), this tote is understated, modern and incredible chic.
Ssense Building Block black business tote, $485 at Ssense
Manufacture Pascale Tippi Bucket Safran
Come for the bucket style, stay for the lemon ultra suede lining.
Manufacture Pascale Tippi bucket Safran, $400 at Manufacture Pascale
Mansur Gavriel Bucket Bag in Brick
The Italian suede, that deep-red hue, the unstructured bucket shape—we just can't get enough of Mansur Gavriel.
Mansur Gavriel bucket bag in brick, $595 at Need Supply Co.
Need Supply Co.
Steven Alan Beckham Bag
Polish off any look with this sleek, structured bag made with 100 percent calf leather.
Steven Alan Beckham bag, $250 at Steven Alan
SSense Marni Black Small Trunk Bag
This subtle two-tone trunk bag comes with very minimal gold hardware.
SSense Marni black small trunk bag, $1,780 at Ssense
Matt + Nat MINKA Koala
You can wear this beauty as a crossbody or carry it as a handheld.
Matt & Nat MINKA Koala, $109 at Matt & Nat
Matt & Nat.