10 shoulder bags which show that we're still obsessed with the '90s
Blast from the past
Every decade is characterised by the way a woman living in it carries her bag: The ‘80s had women carrying a briefcase in the crook of their arms (#powerlunches), the early noughties had her oversized clutch firmly gripped under her armpit (#PhoebePhiloism), and in the recent years, the woman can carry her bag with two fingertips (#microbags).
But for the gesture that’s truly stylish and that tells the world that you’re cosmopolitan-meets-Carrie-Bradshaw-fabulous, it was shrugging a shoulder bag on and hiking it beneath your underarm in one fluid movement.
We’re here to tell you that the ’90s shoulder bags are trending harder than before, and we’re loving them.
Click on for 10 of our favourites: They don’t necessarily have to be the OG Fendi Baguette which has resurfaced recently, but as long as it’s rectangular and has a short strap, it’s still a winner in our books.
This was the shoulder bag that started it all in the ‘90s. It was the length of a hairspray can which meant women were able to fit everything they needed, it was feminine without being overtly-feminine and you never have to worry about getting it lost or stolen because after all, it was on your body all the time.
And the good people at Fendi know that when you had a good thing, it’s time to bring it back. There are many more variations to this iconic bag but we have our eyes on this sequin number.
A high-street bag with the cache of a designer bag, this Zara piece is devoid of branding (keep your friends and family guessing) and it comes in a mock-croc material that’s a neutral shade of brown.
We say to think of it as your seasonal bag: You can wear with lighter coloured pieces and airy linen in the “summer” and with darker-toned clothing and ankle boots in the “fall” for a more downtown vibe.
3. Topshop PU leather shoulder bag, $56.90, Zalora
In a world where everybody is going to go for iconic logos or minimal looking ones, you’re going to want to be that babe who carries on in a loud leopard print: Think Fenty and style it with bomber jackets and ripped jeans or wear it as an unexpected evening bag with slinky dresses and heels because after all, you’re never going to lose it at a club’s bag drop because of how loud it is.
4. Nubuck leather shoulder bag, US$150 (S$205.62), COS
Sometimes, you might buy into a trend because everyone is into it and then buyer’s remorse sets in. But we doubt you would with how many merits we can tick off this COS bag.
It’s made of a supple nubuck leather that gets softer the more you use it, its neutral colour means you’re rarely going to have trouble weaving it into your outfits, and if you’re bored of carrying it shoulder style, you can wear it crossbody with its detachable strap.
It’s easy to immediately assume that lady-like bags will either look vintage (aka if you can imagine Queen Elizabeth carrying it) or hoity-toity, but the Olivia bag proves that lady-like can look modern and contemporary too, whether it’s slung effortlessly over your shoulder or toted around as a clutch when clipped horizontally.
And we doubt most of your friends have heard of this brand or have ever seen a shape like it, so we say be the first one in your clique to tote this modern beauty.
You’re going to be overwhelmed at first by the design of this bag (and we wouldn’t blame you), seeing as how it sports crazy Hawaiian prints, mixed coloured acrylic straps and a giant safety pin.
But we think this particular bag has kitschy-tourist-store appeal aka the kind of bag you’ll pick up while on holiday because you were looking for something out of the ordinary, which also means you’re going to want to style this with things that are the opposite: Simple pieces such as dresses or a tee+jeans combo to let this bag do all the talking for you.
With every designer brand now looking into their archives and bringing back cult classics, it’s probably easy for Coach to do the same (they are after all, a heritage leather company).
The revival of the Tabby, however, is a nice surprise: It’s pleasingly un-trendy (which is what you want in a designer bag), the classic C-hardware has a nice vintage touch without looking dated and it comes in pebble leather which is known for being very hardy and scratch-resistant.
Bonus: it can be carried by hand, in the crook of your elbow, on your shoulders or crossbody style.
8. Gucci Small Zumi shoulder bag, US$2,475 (S$3,392.73), Net-A-Porter
Alessandro Michele of Gucci is constantly referred to as the “Vintage King” and it isn’t hard to see why when you look at the Zumi bag — it has the house’s iconic horsebit hardware and the interlocking GG logo that everybody went crazy for in the ‘90s, from the housewives to rap stars.
It might not be as flashy as the Marmont or the Dionysus line but that’s where the Zumi shines. No one is going to blink an eye if you carry it from the boardroom to the streets because of how pleasingly simple it looks.
This bag is incredibly versatile thanks to its stunning fire engine red body and gold buckle, which means it’s the perennial summer-meets-CNY-angbao-hoarding bag. And in the cash department, it’s not going to set you back by a lot because after all, it’s from a high street label.
We don’t need to tell you that it’s going to look great as a pop of colour against neutral coloured pieces but if you want to upgrade your style, it looks great worn with a brightly coloured suit in shades of orange, green or purple if you dare to wing in.
So it doesn’t look like it fits in as much as the bags we’ve mentioned in the previous points (after all, it is a square) but if you’re looking for that fun bag to party in (or if you’re shopping six months ahead of the festive season), this sequin stunner is a winner in our books.
Don’t think you have to style it with simpler pieces though when you’re hitting the dance floor, because we think for once, excess isn’t a bad thing so be prepared to deck yourself out with diamantes like this bag.