Autumn is officially here, meaning it’s time to pack away our strappy dresses, shorts and sandals, and get ready to bundle up in cosy knitwear and layers and pull on our favourite boots.
While some winter wardrobe staples can (and should) be worn year after year, if you’re looking for one key piece to update your style for the new season, you can’t go wrong with a handbag.
A chic bag in the right colour will complement almost any outfit – and now is the perfect time to go shopping for a new bag, because the high street is awash with cool, catwalk-inspired arm candy…
1. Tote bags
Big bags are back in a big way, which is handy if you’re returning to the office and need a roomy tote to ferry your laptop/lunchbox/gym kit/all of the above to and from work.
Take your cue from Gucci, Dior and Gabriela Hearst with a super-size top handle tote, or grab a squishy leather holdall to cradle under your arm like the models on the Fendi and Sportmax runways.
Hush Penny Jumper, £79; Penny Knitted Midi Skirt, £69; Baxter Leather Tote, £149
Radley Finsbury Park Large Zip Top Shoulder Bag, £129 (clothing, stylist’s own)
2. Quilted bags
You’ve got two choices when it comes to quilted bags for autumn. The utility trend is still in full force, with puffed-up cross-body and belt bags in neutral hues.
Inspired by the Chanel and Burberry collections, classic leather handbags with chain straps, that can be worn long or short, are an elegant choice for day or evening.
John Lewis & Partners Anyday Funnel Neck Knit Jumper Dress Grey, £46; Quilted Belt Bum Bag Taupe, £25
Matalan Black Quilted Bum Bag, £8
Dune London Duchess S Black Small Quilted Leather Bag, £120
New Look Pale Pink Quilted Chain Strap Cross Body Bag, £17.99
3. Cross body bags
While it seems the micro purse trend is finally on the way out, there were still lots of compact cross-body bags on the catwalks at Louis Vuitton, Molly Goddard, Coach and more.
A boxy, zip-up cross-body in soft leather offers the best of both worlds: big enough to hold all your essentials, without weighing you down.
Jasper Conran Amber Croc Envelope Cross Body Bag Blue, £75 (clothing, stylist’s own)
Oliver Bonas Eve Black Fold Over Crossbody Camera Bag Large, £46
4. Chain bags
Chain-strap handbags are a timeless classic, of course, but this season the links are decorative rather than practical – from shiny and gold at Valentino and Stella McCartney, to plastic and chunky at Longchamp and Acne.
A metallic chain adds edge to a utility-style bag, giving it added day-to-night potential.
River Island Black Chain Detail Cross Body Bag, £38
ASOS Design Puffed Quilted Shoulder Bag in Brown with Chunky Chain, £20
5. Fluffy bags
There was an explosion of all things fluffy on the AW21 catwalks, from DSquared2’s shearling hobo bag, to Burberry’s huge, fuzzy tote and JW Anderson’s bright, tasselled creations.
A cream faux fur or shearling shoulder bag is the ideal match for a classic camel coat.
Accessorize Faux Shearling Slouch Bag, £32
George at Asda Cream Faux Fur Tote Bag, £18