You Don’t Have To Be Ladylike To Own Lady Bag Style

Amanda Randone

To be a lady, at least according to the 1960s film My Fair Lady and its bounty of Oscars, was to be gentle and refined. When she wasn't attending Embassy Balls, a lady was reciting diction exercises before bed and affixing Jacquemus-level oversized hats to her immaculately coiffed head. Fortunately, we've moved away from this narrow idea of femininity thanks to the pantsuit-wearing, flute-mastering, and boundary-breaking badasses that prove there is no single way to dress like a woman. But there's still one piece of classic lady-hood we (quite literally) can't let go of: perfect little structured ladylike handbags.

We're calling them "lady bags." The impractically small, enormously chic accessories currently taking over NYFW street style in a big way. No, they can't fit your planner (and probably not even your iPhone), but they do look damn fine when paired with pretty much anything in your closet... the cherry on top of your ice cream of an outfit, if you will. This is a delicate but mighty item that packs some serious fashion punch, elevating even the most basic ensemble to something worth writing about. It's no surprise that an eclectic and diverse bunch of fashion week attendees were quick to adopt the nostalgic piece, integrating the lady bag into their wardrobe arsenals with all kinds of contemporary twists. We've spotted micro-sizes, quilted leathers, and a range of feathered, embellished, and metallic takes on the trend. Beloved by trainer-heads and dolled-up show-goers alike, this dainty bag is completely redefining the term "lady-like" and we couldn't be more here for it.

Ahead, find out what kind of lady bag suits your aesthetic as we breakdown the trend into eight categories inspired by the Fashion Month scene so far.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

The (Much)-Less-Is-More Lady Bag


To all our fellow Lizzo lovers, this tiny bag situation is for you. The artist dazzled us with a tiny Valentino purse at the AMAs, then basically broke TikTok with a video of its contents less than two months later. If, like Lizzo, you love miniature things — Tabasco miniatures, mini tinted Vaseline, and teacup Australian Shepherds to name a few — then this is one trend train is one you'll want to ride for as long as it lasts. PHOTOGRAPHED BY POLLY IRUNGU.


Charles & Keith Mini Top Handle Pouch Bag, $, available at Charles & Keith

The Pearl-Clutching Lady Bag


This is the type that's always clutching her pearls — but in the literal sense of the expression. She's Coco Chanel meets Harry Styles, and she can't keep her hands off pearl-covered everything... from belts to barrettes to, of course, bags. PHOTOGRAPHED BY POLLY IRUNGU.


Skinny Dip Penelope Tote Bag, $, available at Skinny Dip

The Wild Side Lady Bag


One glance at the handbag collection of this kind of lady offers a glimpse at her inner party person. She'll take feathered details and structural shapes over the safer choice any day, no matter the occasion. PHOTOGRAPHED BY POLLY IRUNGU.


Kate Spade Betty Tinsle Swag Bag, $, available at kate spade

The Zsa Zsa Gabor Lady Bag


More is always more for Zsa Zsa Gabor — and for the bold women who emulate her signature style. Gabor, like her accessories collection, was unconventional, over the top, and glamorous in every possible way. If this sounds like you, opt for a bag that says so. PHOTOGRAPHED BY POLLY IRUNGU.


Susan Alexandra Bop Crystal Bag, $, available at Shopbop

The 110% Lady Bag


She's the lady that rolls up to the most casual gathering looking impeccable. No bagel run is too small for a thoughtful look. She mixes her metals, she's never without an arm party, and her earrings almost always make a statement. Even her accessories are accessorised, with bags featuring beaded embellishments, colour accents, and unexpected details. PHOTOGRAPHED BY POLLY IRUNGU.


Topshop Drift Black Handle Grab Bag, $, available at Topshop

The Signature Cocktail Lady Bag


"She'll have her usual," is what they say about this category of lady whose timeless elegance rivals that of a vintage Rolex. Her look, like her drink order, is not one that people forget. She doesn't stray far from the classics because she doesn't need to. She's chic, consistent, and always in style. Her bag of choice: leather, quilted, and of course, in a neutral shade. PHOTOGRAPHED BY POLLY IRUNGU.


Chanel Reversed Chevron Mini Round Flap Bag, $, available at The RealReal

The Candy Lady Bag


You know the type. She's kind, fun, and always has emergency sweets stashed in her bag for when a sugar craving hits (which she then doles out with Oprah-like levels of generosity). If you've got a sweet tooth with the sweet style to boot, this is the bag category for you. It's colourful and quirky with just enough room for bonbons.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY POLLY IRUNGU.


ASOS Multicoloured Resin Beaded Shoulder Bag, $, available at ASOS

The Lunch Lady Bag


Not to be confused with the woman that served up all those questionable cafeteria meals at school, this is the type of lady that uses the word "lunch" as a verb. She assembles her bevy of stylish confidants for Niçoise Salads and Bellinis and always comes dressed to impress. Her bag choice, like everything else about her, is sleek and sophisticated while grabbing just the right amount of attention. PHOTOGRAPHED BY POLLY IRUNGU.


Coach Riley Chain Clutch, $, available at Coach

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