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12 best straw and raffia bags to take you from beach to bar this summer

They’re one of the hottest trends this season, so here’s our pick from luxury brands to high street staples

<p>Most straw bags are open-top, so do take this into consideration if you plan on carrying valuables around in a busy city</p>

Most straw bags are open-top, so do take this into consideration if you plan on carrying valuables around in a busy city

Love Island is on the telly, the sun is (sometimes) shining, and sunscreen is lining the shelves in the supermarkets, which can only mean one thing: summer’s here! And, right on cue, straw bags are back as the ultimate warm-weather accessory.

While the natural-based bags have been around in some variety for centuries – think wicker baskets or woven straw holdalls for fruit and veg – the trend really came into its own as a fashion piece in the 1950s, with Jane Birkin propelling it further, carrying a wicker basket in the Sixties.

This year, we’ve seen luxury brands – from Celine and Chloe to Loewe and Saint Laurent – bring out runway-ready options, and who could forget the famous Prada option that continues to take over Instagram?

Luckily, when it comes to what’s been dubbed the essential bag of the summer, the high street has hundreds of great options, bringing back the trend for yet another year of bohemian basket-bag madness. From Anthropologie’s extra-large beach bag to a classic crossbody from & Other Stories, there are plenty of options to choose from to perfectly complement that summer dress, jeans, wedding guest outfit and more.

So, we’ve been testing bags in all shapes and sizes to find the best straw or raffia bag options, from days at the beach to sundowners at the bar and everything in between, no matter what your style.

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How we tested

The first thing we looked for when researching the best straw bags was design. It had to look great, of course, but it also needed to be comfortable to wear, sturdy enough to hold all of the essentials, and have none of those pesky straw fibres sticking out.

Typically, a lot of straw bags are open-top, meaning they’re not the safest for carrying belongings in crowded cities, so do bear that in mind when deciding which one to opt for. We found a few bags that did close with zips or drawstrings, or had an inner pouch for safety, which earned them extra points.

So, using each bag in our round-up for a whole day of food shopping, picnicking and daily errands, and even taking one all the way to Ibiza, we put them through their paces, testing what they could hold, how easy they were to carry and what scenario they would be best for.

The best straw bags for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – M&S straw tote bag: £25, Marksandspencer.com
  • Best crossbody straw bag – Ted Baker Appita appleseed embroidered straw bucket bag: £90, Tedbaker.com
  • Best large straw bag – Anthropologie basket tote bag: £50, Anthropologie.com
  • Best budget buy – Studio multicoloured straw clutch bag: £10, Studio.co.uk
  • Best straw clutch bag – & Other Stories straw crossbody half moon bag: £45, Stories.com
  • Best personalised straw bag – Bonita the 3 stripe basket: £80, Boutiquebonita.com
  • Best colourful straw bag – Boden soft straw bag multi stripe: £70, Johnlewis.com
  • Best small straw bag – Jigsaw Chiltern straw bag: £120, Jigsaw-online.com
  • Best designer dupe – Next paper straw shoulder bag: £26, Next.co.uk
  • Best boho straw bag – Bonita the bohemian bag: £50, Boutiquebonita.com
  • Best straw bag for evenings – Boden hand-held basket bag: £52.50, Boden.co.uk
  • Best embellished straw bag – Monsoon lemon embellished straw crossbody bag: £45, Monsoon.co.uk

M&S straw tote bag

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

Basic but beautiful, this straw bag from M&S checked every box for our tester. The simple design was easy to pair with any outfit, while the size and shape made it the perfect option for every day, whether going to work, the beach or just on daily errands.

It was large enough to hold a laptop, book, sunscreen, small make-up bag and more essentials. Thanks to its recycled-polyester lining, it does have extra strength to carry some weight, but as with any straw bag, we wouldn’t recommend overloading it. Two internal pockets (one zipped) made for easy access to phones, credit cards and keys. But the best bit has to be the zip-top closure for added protection when out and about. This bag is also suitable for vegans, thanks to faux-leather handles, so we really can’t think of anything to complain about.

Ted Baker Appita appleseed embroidered straw bucket bag

Best: Crossbody straw bag

Rating: 9/10

This bag is quite a statement piece, with a bright floral design adding to the summer feel. A small bucket-bag style, it won’t accommodate any laptops, beach towels or larger items, but it is great for day-to-day essentials, such as a phone, purse, keys, antibac and a couple of other smaller items.

Fully lined, this bag has a drawstring top closure along with an internal zipped pocket for concealing valuables such as credit cards. The red leather crossbody strap can be adjusted in length, thanks to a large gold-tone buckle, but can also be removed, turning it into a sweet top-handle style, perfect for the wedding season.

Our tester loved how bright and bold this piece was, while keeping an elegant feel for more formal occasions, too. For those who prefer a more muted palette, we were also quite taken with the Maglili straw crochet bucket bag (£140, Tedbaker.com). 

Anthropologie basket tote bag

Best: Large straw bag

Rating: 9/10

For beach lovers, it’ll be hard to find a better straw bag than this one. It’s large, and we mean large, at close to 60cm in length, making it perfect for holding towels, sunscreen, a change of clothes and more. It’s open-top, so we kept the towels at the top to keep our more precious belongings safe beneath, and the magnetic buckle strap did help to keep everything secure while adding a nice dimension.

The top handles are long enough to wear on the shoulder, but there are also very long straps to make for easier carrying, too. There is an internal lining to help prevent sand from getting stuck inside after a day at the beach, and the rustic seagrass design gave it a real laid-back boho look.

We loved that the straps were faux leather, making it suitable for vegans, too. The only possible downside might be the smell of the grass – but, as a farm lover, our tester had no problem with this, saying it gave the bag even “more of an au naturel feeling”.

Studio multicoloured straw clutch bag

Best: Budget buy

Rating: 8/10

We love a budget buy here at IndyBest and online/catalogue retailer Studio is a regular go-to for budget-friendly trends, with this rainbow straw bag being no exception.

It’s a great option for anyone looking to join the trend without spending too much money, and the bold colours are just perfect for summer and work with almost any coloured outfit as a great accessory.

The handles are circular and short, so it can only be hand-held, and its small size means that it’s best used for small essentials only, such as sunscreen, purses, phones and more. However, we loved how it’s fully lined with an internal pocket, and has a drawstring close that can be tied for safety.

& Other Stories straw crossbody half moon bag

Best: Straw clutch bag

Rating: 7/10

This isn’t exactly a clutch bag, but it was our favourite way to wear this crossbody –  simply slip the chain strap inside. Of course, if you want to wear it as a crossbody or even a shoulder style, the versatile chain strap allows you to do both – though do note that it isn’t the strongest, so don’t go overloading it with anything too heavy.

Fully lined inside, the half-moon shape alongside the tight weave of the straw gave this bag a sleek and sophisticated look, while the neutral colour made it easy to pair with any outfit.

This bag was definitely the least bohemian-looking option of all the designs in this round-up, giving a subtle nod to the trend for those not ready to jump in with two feet. Our tester loved its versatility and neutral tone, though it does also come in lilac for anyone after a bit more of a pop.

Bonita the 3 stripe basket

Best: Personalised straw bag

Rating: 9/10

Personalised bags are having a real moment right now, and a beach bag is one of the most common options getting a good ol’ initial stamping. Perfect as a birthday present, hen-do gift or just a treat to yourself this summer, the personalised aspect elevates a standard beach bag to a more special possession (though you can expect some wear and tear on the personalisation – it is just painted on, after all).

Personalisation aside, our favourite part of this bag was actually the clever weaving of the bottom of the bag, making it a flat circle with no risk of falling over and spilling out all our essentials.

If we could change one thing, it would be to make the straps a little longer for better shoulder wear. Other than that slight quibble, our tester was really impressed with the sturdiness of this bag, and it’s sure to be our go-to beach bag for summer after summer.

Boden soft straw bag multi stripe

Best: Colourful straw bag

Rating: 8/10

For anyone after a bit of colour, this Boden option is hard to beat, with a rainbow of brightly coloured stripes. Slouchy and laid-back in design, it’s an easy go-to for daily errands or a day at the beach, and it’s even large enough to hold a laptop.

We loved how this bag brightened up even the plainest outfit and went with almost anything, thanks to the number of colours included.

It isn’t lined and is open-top, so you may want to add an internal zipped pouch for any valuables or to save you hunting around for your phone, as our tester did. Lightweight and easy to fold down, it can be popped into a suitcase as a holiday essential, which we’re sure to be doing for many trips to come.

Jigsaw Chiltern straw bag

Best: Small straw bag

Rating: 9/10

Incredibly cute, this Jigsaw option is small enough for everyday use yet still large enough to hold a (small) laptop, book and daily essentials without spending ages rummaging around for necessities.

Our favourite part about this bag was the length of the handles – at over 20cm, they’re perfect for wearing on the shoulder,  and the naturally dyed leather makes them sturdy and long-wearing for ultimate durability.

Inside, there’s a handy zipped pocket and tie fastening to keep things in one place, and although the bag isn’t lined, the straw is thick and tightly woven to make it stronger. Being hand-woven, no two bags are the exact same size or shape, which is another element we loved. There’s also a detachable leather keyring on the front for an added design element.

Next paper straw shoulder bag

Best: Designer dupe

Rating: 8/10

Despite coming in more neutral colourways and being fully lined, this Next option seems like a dupe of the highly coveted Prada straw bag to us, and at under £30, it’s definitely a lot cheaper. While this wasn’t the strongest option here – we wouldn’t recommend piling it high with the weekly food shop – it was one of the most simple yet on-trend picks.

Inside, there’s a zipped pocket, plus two smaller pockets for easy access to essentials, which is incredibly handy given this bag’s depth of close to 40cm. As this “straw” bag is actually made from tightly knitted paper, it’s less scratchy against bare skin. Available in three neutral shades, our tester loved this grey option, though we’d love to see some brighter colours come out, too.

Bonita the bohemian bag

Best: Boho straw bag

Rating: 9/10

Another one from independent brand Bonita, but very different in design to the monogrammed style, is this bohemian bag. Anyone who loves the Ibiza-boho lifestyle is sure to adore this option.

Of course, the first thing we noticed was the standout design of cream pom-poms, fringing, wooden beads and shells in a sort of macrame-style design (given all these added elements, it is a tad on the weighty side).

The second thing that caught our attention was the quality of the bag. Handcrafted in Indonesia, there’s a personal element to this piece. The handles are thick and sturdy, the shape is just big enough to hold everyday essentials – including some beach-day needs (except for a towel) – with a fold-out bottom that gives it a more tube-like shape. The bag isn’t lined (we’d recommend using an additional zip-up pouch to hold any essentials) but structurally, this option is faultless.

Boden hand held basket bag

Best: Straw bag for evenings

Rating: 9/10

Solving all issues of the open-top bag fiasco, Boden has expertly found a solution – a detachable inner pouch in a beautiful print to fill the full inside of the bag. Genius. Attached to the bag with poppers for extra security, this is a simple trick to make us feel safer if carrying this around in busy streets. It also gives the bag a sort of two-in-one feel, as the inner pouch could always be removed and used as a clutch or make-up bag on its own.

Getting to the external part of the bag – the main aspect – it’s rather beautiful. Circular wooden handles mean it can only be held by hand, making it the perfect evening bag or beach-wedding option, while the loose knit of the rope gives it a real laid-back yet elegant feel.

Having a rounded base, the bag doesn’t stand up on its own, so make sure the inner pocket is zipped when putting on the floor lest all your belongings spill out. For those after a colour pop, it’s also available in hot pink, too.

Monsoon lemon embellished straw crossbody bag

Best: Embellished straw bag

Rating: 8/10

While most straw bags focus on simple design and pared-back features, it’s always nice to add a bit of glitz to elevate things a touch. So, turning to Monsoon, one of the OG high street accessory brands, it’s no surprise that we found a great option. With a sweet, summery embellishment of beaded lemons and leaves, this bag has been instantly upgraded to the perfect option for holidays, weddings and those days when you want an extra touch of sparkle.

The bag can be worn either as a clutch when tucking the gold-tone strap inside, over the shoulder, or as a crossbody. The internal lining and pocket keep things nicely separated, while the magnetic flap closure adds a nice element to keep belongings safe.

Admittedly, this option is on the smaller side, so don’t expect to squeeze in a book or anything larger than a purse. That said, our tester loved its dinky size and has already paired it with a summer wedding guest outfit for instant style points.

The verdict: Straw bags

With a huge range of colours, brands and designs, the straw bag is possibly one of the easiest summer trends to get on board with. For everyday use – whether going to the office, out with friends or even to the supermarket for a small shop – the M&S straw tote bag is hard to beat. But for those who like more of a pop of colour, or even a bargain buy, then it has to be the Studio multicoloured straw clutch bag.

For beach days, we’d opt for the Anthropologie basket tote bag, thanks to its very generous size. For more formal occasions, such as a wedding, either the Ted Baker Appita appleseed embroidered straw bucket bag or Monsoon lemon embellished straw crossbody bag would work really well.

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