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The Handbag Trends You're About To See Everywhere

As the accessory of the year, we're breaking down the best handbag trends of 2021.

Style

If you've been watching the style sphere over the past few months, handbags are having a standout moment. No longer regulated to the backburner of fashion, accessories - and more specifically handbags - are taking center stage. There isn't a luxury or premium fashion house that didn't showcase a line of colorful, unique, or nostalgic handbags this spring.

We're seeing this time-tested accessory go through a sort of transformation, akin to the spring awakening, right before our eyes. Whether you're looking to start your coveted handbag collection or looking to mix up your personal style, here are 10 handbag trends to hold you down all year.

1.Cushion Bags

The message is loud and clear: cushion is here to stay. A trend that started with Bottega Veneta's Lido sandal and picked up momentum in the coziness of the pandemic, cushion accessories are exploding this year. The handbag is a nod to the early 2000s and exudes a sophisticated comfort akin to a 2.55 Chanel quilted bag. Given its luxe texture, you can effortlessly dress this up with a more structured aesthetic or opt for a slouchy version with athleisure.

2.Belt Bag

While you might have kissed your fanny pack goodbye, don't get too comfortable with leaving your waist purse-free. In the place of the coveted nostalgic fanny-pack comes the belt bag; an ultra mini attached to your waist in a utility belt fashion. Styled over a maxi dress to give a bit of shape or hooked through your favorite high-waisted denim, the belt bag is this year's answer to being hands-free in a post-pandemic world.

3.Crescent Shape

If you need any more confirmation that the nostalgic 00s are saturating our runways, look no further than the comeback of the iconic crescent-shaped handbag. Aptly nicknamed the moon bag and debuting on runways a few years ago, the IT bag of yesteryear is officially having a moment. This chic staple nestled delicately under your shoulder comes in a wide range of silhouettes, colors, and prints that effortlessly complement any style. Whether you gravitate towards the modern slouchy pouches at Bottega Veneta, the whimsical canvas-printed bags at Staud, or the seminal black Prada top-handle, there's a moon-shaped bag with your name on it.

4.Soft Leather

The category for 2021 is stylish comfort, and nothing embodies that more than the soft and delicate leather goods we saw on the runways. Doubling down on soft indoor textures, pillowy-to-the-touch handbags are already on every street block and coffee shop.

5.Logo Totes

Apologies at the top if you were expecting large handbags to fade discreetly into the archives of street style. Oversized but functional tote bags are populating Instagram feeds and spring/summer runways alike. While the Dior Tote has been coveted for a few years, the success with brands like Telfar has skyrocketed the logomania of it all. Easily styled on the white sandy beaches or in the masked city streets, the logo tote is a staple that every person should have in their wardrobe.

6.Unique Design

From Christian Dior in the 50s to Gianni Versace in the 90s, there are few moments in fashion where we see the debut of a new trend. Luckily for us, as consumers become more fashion-conscious, there's a surge in silhouettes that aren't traditional. An interesting combination of a bucket bag, the ultra-miniature, and a crossbody, this new variation of handbag is youthful and luscious.

7.Miniature

Ever since Lizzo donned a miniature Jacquemus bag with the caption, "...big enough for my fucks to give", the ultra-mini bag has exploded on the style scene.

8.Crossbody Bags

A style trend that's been around for years but still extremely relevant, the crossbody is the quintessential in-between bag. Adorned with chain straps, metallic embellishments, and delicate jeweled emblems, the crossbody is one of the most replicated handbags this year.

9.Filing Folders

A more youthful trend on the scene, two-dimensional arm candy is bound to be all the rage during the warmer months. An emblem of counterculture to maximalism, this silhouette screams feminine and professional without sacrificing elements of style. There's something about the sleek nature of the handbag that exudes a 90s IT-girl vibe immediately. The color palettes are ranging from neutrals to prints to the bold neons that are everywhere this season. The razor-sharp bag is the perfect accessory for the minimalist girl on the go.

10.Raffia Totes

Another fun and fresh trend that has its roots in traditional beachwear, the raffia tote, or commonly referred to as the 'wicker basket trend', has transitioned into more everyday wear for spring and summer. Whether it's a top-handle, a long-line chain, or crescent-shaped, the netted style is a funky and casual way to step up your everyday style.

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Featured image courtesy of @amber.richele/Instagram

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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