15 Best Top
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15 Best Top

Aug 29, 2023

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Elevated and timeless

The best top-handle bags epitomize timeless style. Exuding sophistication and elegance, this iconic accessory is practical while making a strong and polished statement. “A great top-handle bag is iconic and refined, but not overly fussy or difficult to use,” says Amy Zurek, founder and creative director of handbag brand Savette.

Key details set a top-handle bag apart from other elevated designs, like the best shoulder bags and crossbody bags. “Since a top-handle bag must be held in hand or over the forearm, it inherently projects a ladylike attitude for the woman wearing it; she has the luxury not to need a hyper-functional hands-free style,” Zurek explains. “I think this type of timeless elegance is something many women aspire to, at least on certain occasions.” (Perhaps on days when you need to switch it up from your go-to designer tote bag.)

Though sophisticated, a top-handle bag is versatile for various carrying needs. “Since it doesn’t allow your hands to be free, it might not be the best choice for busy days on the go,” Zurek does note. However, there are ways to style a top-handle bag casually for a more modern effect—many actually come with a removable crossbody strap.

“There’s certainly a time and place for a highly curated look with a ladylike bag, but to me, it’s the contrast between a polished bag and a more laid-back style and attitude that makes a truly chic combination,” she says. “Small details like leaving the lock undone or carrying the bag with only a few fingers make a whole look feel effortless.”

Ahead, scroll to shop our edit of the 15 best top-handle bags, for instant polish.

“The Savette Symmetry Pochette is a favorite because it’s simultaneously our most ladylike and most pared-back style,” Zurek tells Bazaar. “It features an elegant closure inspired by modernist jewelry and sculpture, but its streamlined shape and petite size make it super easy and wearable.”

Materials: Calf leather

Dimensions: 9" W x 5" H x 3" D

This cult top-handle bag is a modern riff on timeless style, from the oversize handle to the structure flap silhouette. Pair it with everything from tailoring to event wear. For a hands-free look, clip on the crossbody strap.

Materials: Leather

Dimensions: 4.7" W x 3.7" H x 2" D

This tweed Chanel top-handle bag exudes timelessness, from the graphic black-and-white design to the crossbody strap for versatile styling. It’s a true forever piece.

Materials: Tweed, lambskin leather, and gold-tone metal

Dimensions: 8.2" W × 5.9" H × 3.5" D

Refined yet eye-catching, this colorblock design invigorates the feel of a classically structured top-handle bag with sleek hardware.

Materials: Calf leather

Dimensions: 8" W x 6" H x 2.5" D

If the traditional structure of a top-handle bag deters you, consider this slouchy shape from Bottega Veneta. It’s a polished version of the cult-classic clutch that you can easily wear day to night.

Materials: Leather

Dimensions: 7.9" W x 6.3" H x 4.3" D

Fusing heritage details first introduced over six decades ago with a contemporary spirit, this Horsebit Gucci bag is a modern icon, from the double-ring-and-bar design to the lustrous gold-tone chain-link strap.

Materials: Leather

Dimensions: 8.7" W x 6.3" H x 4.1" D

For a more modern take on quilting, look to Ree Projects’ Tess bag, featuring a brass handle and uniquely sculptural shape. It’s a gorgeous option for daytime or evening events.

Materials: Italian Napa leather

Dimensions: 11.02" W x 7.09" H x 3.54" D

The box bag is quintessential polish. For a “retro meets right now” look, Brandon Blackwood’s croc-embossed mini is peak chic with everything from slouchy trousers and a knit to fall dresses and cocktail attire.

Materials: Leather

Dimensions: 7.5" W x 6" H x 3" D

Combining the polish of a top handle with the modernity of a shoulder bag, this structured style by the Row is a true quiet luxury moment no matter how you carry it.

Materials: Calf leather

Dimensions: 8.5" W x 6" H x 3" D

This softly structured top-handle bag is crafted of elegant textured leather in a captivating olive green—a modern statement with workwear or easy outfits like a tee, blazer, and jeans.

Materials: Full-grain calf leather

Dimensions: 20.5 cm x 17 cm x 9 cm

Bring a warm-weather spirit to outfits without sacrificing polish. Female artisans in Colombia intricately hand-wove this small beige design from Iraca palm with a black Napa leather trim.

Materials: Iraca palm, leather

Dimensions: 7.1" W x 6.5" L x 2.8" D

For the logo lover, this ’70s-inspired pattern speaks serious volumes. Functional details like a magnetic closure and organizational pockets are the icing on the cake.

Materials: Fabric, calf leather

Dimensions: 10" W x 6" H x 3" D

Streamlined and classic, this pebble-leather top-handle bag is the ultimate ladylike bag for all occasions. We’re particularly fond of it pared back to a T-shirt, cargoes, and sneakers for modern effortlessness.

Materials: Italian full-grain pebbled calfskin leather

Dimensions: 11" W x 7.5" H x 4" D

Take the top-handle into evening with this sleek clutch silhouette that can be tucked under your arm, carried in your hand, or slung over your shoulder with the gleaming chain strap. Keep jewelry minimal—the sculptural hardware of this bag does most of the talking.

Materials: Cowhide leather

Dimensions: 9.8" W x 5.3" H x 1.5" D

Get your practical everyday thrills with polished effect in this sleek-as-ever top-handle tote bag. The contrast stitching adds a subtle yet dynamic design element that feels a skosh fresher than any other black tote in your collection.

Materials: Leather

Dimensions: 14.5" W x 10.5" H x 5" D

For more than 150 years, Harper’s Bazaar has been the preeminent fashion, beauty, and lifestyle resource for women at every age. We cover what’s new and what’s next in fashion by working with the world’s leading authorities in ready-to-wear, footwear, accessories, and more. Every story we publish has been thoroughly researched and vetted by our team of editors and industry experts.

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