The handbag glossary is a list of commingly used terms when referring to designer handbags.
Accordion: Used to describe the structure of a handbag's interior when its compartments fold open like the bellows of an accordion.
Alligator Skin: A reptile hide featuring a wide, boxed print.
Antiqued: A type of surface treatment that has a rubbed-off, worn appearance and texture.
Antique Handbag: A leather bag with a smooth finish because the grain has been crushed and undergone shrinkage.
Applique: A decorative element composed of beads, embroidery, metal, painted fabric or leather that is applied to a handbag's surface.
Athletic Handbag: A soft, roomy bag used to carry sporting equipment and apparel to the gym.
Backpack: A bag that is supported by the shoulders with double handles and lies across the back. Backpacks are supported on either one or both shoulders.
Baguette: A small handbag shaped like a long roll of bread, resembling a French baguette.
Ball and Socket: A handbag closure featuring two tilted balls that snap closed with a socket groove and open when twisted between thumb and forefinger. Often featured on coin purses.
Barrel: A handbag with a cylinder shape, similar to that of a barrel.
Beadwork: Decorative embellishment composed of beads and/or sequins.
Belt bag: A purse that fastens around the waist, as a belt. The bag of the belt bag is sometimes removable. Also called "fanny pack."
Billfold: A flat wallet with a clip or slip-in compartment, which holds bills.
Bowler: As the image implies, this bag is shaped like a bowling ball. The bag usually has reinforced straps and a half oval shape.
Box Rigid: A bag shaped purse, square or rectangle in shape, with a variety metal, bone, shell or wooden handle.
Bracelet handle: A handbag handle that is shaped like a closed circle.
Braided Handle: Handles made of braided strips of leather or cloth. Often braided around a soft foam or rope core.
Brocade: Fabric featuring raised patterns or designs in its weave.
Brushed Hardware: Hardware that looks as if it was brushed over leaving streaks. This yields a slightly duller look than the more typical polished hardware, which is glossy or shiny.
Bucket Bag: A bucket handbag usually has a single strap, can be made of many types of materials. The botton is typically round and the bag has a longer north to south shape.
Buckle: A clasp at the end of a length of fabric or leather that joins one end of the material to the other.
Burlap: A coarsely textured material used to make casual bags such as school bags, backpacks and satchels.
Calfskin: Leather made from the hide of young cattle. Calfskin has a soft, smooth texture which makes it desirable for making fine handbags.
Camera Bag: An adaptation of bags used to carry photographic equipment. Todays camera bags are rectangular with many additional zippered outside compartments used for storing camera bodies, lenses, cords, etc.
Canteen Bag: A round, padded canvas or nylon bag meant for carrying a canteen. Features a single, adjustable shoulder strap.
Canvas: A durable, somewhat water resistant material that is popular in backpacks and school bags.
Card case: A hard case typically the perfect size and shape to hold business cards.
Carpet Bag: A large satchel-like bag, typically used for carry-on luggage and made out of carpet fabric.
Center Divider: A thin, vertical center section which divides a bag interior into two or more sections. The divider itself usually offers an additional zippered pocket.
Change Purse: A small purse or wallet-section made to carry coins. Traditionally has ball and socket closure. Also known as a "coin purse."
Cinched: A cluster of material tightly bound together.
Clasp: A fastening mechanism usually made of metal, which is intended to hold a handbag strap to a handbag.
Clutch: A woman's strapless purse that is carried in the hand, clasped in one hand or under the arm.. This type of bag does not have a strap and has a long narrow shape.
Coin Purse: A coin purse is a small money container similar to a wallet, but typically used by women and including a compartment for coins. In some countries, it is known simply as a purse. In other countries, such as the United States, the term purse refers to a handbag.
Compartment: A large section in the interior of a handbag.
Computer Bag: A purse usually a tote or shoulder bag specially designed to carry a laptop and its accessories. See also shoulder bag and tote.
Convertible Bag: A bag with a handle that can be tucked or folded inside, in order to turn it into a clutch.
Cosmetic Case: A bag of varying sizes and shapes with a zip closure lined to hold cosmetics.
Cotton: A fabric with various prints and textures that are used to make novelty handbags, book bags and cosmetic bags.
Cowhide: A type of leather made from adult cattle that is used with certain handbags.
Crescent: A semi-circle shaped bag, typically featuring zipper top closure and long, thin shoulder strap.
Croc: An embossed pattern simulating the skin of a crocodile.
Crochet: A type of needlework material constructed by looping yarn with a hooked needle.
Crossbody: A handbag with a long strap, which is traditionally worn over a single shoulder, or crossbody.
Crushed Leather: A type of surface treatment that has a rubbed-off, worn appearance and texture. Also known as "antiqued."
Denier: A term referring to the size of the filament or yarm used in fabric. A higher denier means a thicker fabric.
Drawstring: A soft bag with a gathered drawstring closure. The drawstring, once synched, may form into purse straps or have a separate strap.
Demi Handbag: A small handbag with a single carrying hanle at the top. The handle or strap can be worn over the shoulder but is not as long as the strap of a shoulder bag.
Diaper Bag: A diaper bag or nappy bag is a storage bag with many pocket-like spaces that is big enough to carry everything needed by someone taking care of a baby while taking a typical short outing.
Doctor's Bag: Features easy access to contents and a good use of space. This bag is of course modeled after the traditional physician’s bag.
Dog Carry: A dog carry is a small to medium sized handbag used to carry dogs or small animals. Most dog carries come with several pockets to carry food, water, treats, toys and plastic bags to collect waste.
Double Handle: A handbag that comes with two handles.
Double Zippy: A handbag with two zippers, as opposed to a single zipper that opens the top portion of the handbag.
Drawstring Bag: A handbag that closes at the top with a cord or string pulled through a series of eyelets. The drawstring, once synched, may form into purse straps or have a separate strap.
Drawtop Bag: Typically a bag made of cloth that has a string attached to the top. When pulled, it closes the top portion of the bag.
Duffel: Typically a bag that is long, horizontal and cylinder in shape with short handles.
Dust Cover: A cloth drawstring bag used to protect a handbag when it's not being used.
East-West: Describes a handbag that is longer in width than in height.
Eco-Friendly: Bags made with materials that benefit the environment in some way. Earth-friendly bags include those made from recycled products, repurposed products, sustainable materials, and organic materials.
Embossed: A designed imprinted into leather or synthetic leather most, often simulating an animal skin.
Envelope Bag: A flat, square or rectangular bag with a triangle-shaped top flap that folds over like an envelope.
Evening Bag: Traditionally a couture bag and designed for more formal events. Evening handbags are often designed for glamour or pizazz instead of functionalty.
Exotics: Typically referred to rare type of handbag materials that include crocodile, alligator, stingray, fish, snake, ostrick hides and eel leather.
Fabric Handbags: Handbags made from cloth fabric materials such as canvas, cotton, denim, linen, satin, silk, twill, and velvet.
Fanny Pack: A bag worn on the waist designed to carry small items and daily essentials especially during travel, running sports, and hiking. Also known as a "waist pack".
Faux Leather: Any synthetic material made to look like leather. Also known as "imitation leather"
Feed Bag: A drawstring bag, usually with a shoulder strap, shaped like a horses feed bag. Also referred to as a bucket bag.
Feet: Knobs applied to the bottom of a handbag so that it may stand on its own when not being carried. These function to protect the contents of the handbag or piece of luggage from moisture on the ground thus preserving wear and tear on the bag's bottom.
Flapbag: Comes with a fold over flap and often has a shoulder strap.
Flat Bottom: A fairly stiff bottom suitable for storing a larger number and a more orderly storage of those items.
Flight Bag: A bag used by passengers and crew to carry on belongings aboard a plane. Often has a flight insignia and used rather then a tote bag.
Glazed Leather: A type of leather that has a polished finish but not quite as high gloss as patent leather.
Grain: The inherent surface pattern of leather, differentiated by the animal from which it came.
Grommet: A ring inserted into a hole through the material. Small grommets are often called eyelets.
Half Moon Bag: Any bag shaped like a half moon, with or without a handle of various sizes.
Handbag Dust Cover: A cloth bag that comes with higher end handbags. Used to preserve the handbag when not in use. Also referred to as a dust jacket.
Haute Couture: French for “high sewing” or “high dressmaking” common name for custom made clothing in Paris. Usually implies the use of expensive material and expertise in design and manufacturing. The label is actually a protected term in France and industries have to meet certain requirements to use the label with their products.
Hobo Bag: A soft, large bag that has a zip top and shoulder strap. Tends to crunch down when carried or laid down. Typically a larger handbag that is half moon shaped. Usually has a long strap and a “slouchy” look.
Imitation Leather: Any synthetic material made to look like leather.
Inside Zip Pocket: A pocket on the inside of the bag closed off by a small zipper. Typically located at the back of the bag.
Jacquard: Fabric where a pattern is directly weaved in or knitted in. Jacquard fabric often has a raised pattern effect.
Junior Handbags: Handbags designed with youthful style often for kids, tweens, and teens.
Kip: Also called steer hide, is a type of leather taken from older cattle, not as supple as calfskin.
Lambskin: Light, fine grain leather used to make imported bags.
Laptop Bag: A bag used to carry laptops, iPads or other portable eletronic devices. Typically has a single handle and is carried like a briefcase. Most come with a removeable shoulder strap.
Leather: The skin of an animal, typically with the hair removed and tanned for use.
Leatherette: Any synthetic material made to look like leather. Also known as "imitation leather."
Lining: The surface material featured on a handbag's interior.
Lizard: Leather made from the skin of a lizard, typically with a specked, grainy appearance.
Magnetic Closure: Closure formed by two attracting magnets. Often, the magnets are covered by leather.
Makeup Bag: A small bag used to carry makeup or other cosmetics.
Messenger Bag: Usually has a cross body strap and is shaped to allow for couriers to carry documents, typically comes with a large flap. The history behind the style does not limit it’s usefulness for whatever you want to carry in this bag.
Microfiber: A synthetic fiber that is woven to have the texture of natural fiber cloth.
Minaudiere: A small evening bag embezzled with pieces of metal, semi precious stones or beads and covered with fabric or leather.
Muff: A winter bag made of real of faux fur, wool or velvet that has zippered compartments and a slip opening for your hands.
Name plate: A metal or leather plate fastened or sewn to the interior or exterior of a handbag. Often displays the logo or name of the handbag's brand.
Napa: A supple version of sheepskin leather.
Nappa: A supple version of sheepskin leather.
Naugahide: A man-made material meant to simulate leather. Also known as "synthetic leather."
Needlepoint: Has a tapestry appearance and has a heavy, ornamental fabric used to make knitting bags and carpetbags.
North-South: Describes a handbag that is longer in height than in width.
Nylon: Considered to be the strongest man-made fabric. Highly resistant to abrasion and stains. Nylon is often used in tote bags.
Open Pocket: A pocket that does not feature a closure at the top. Also known as an "Open Top".
Open Top: The top is usually open so that it can be easily reached into. Often closed off by only a magnetic closure. Also known as an "Open Pocket".
Organizer Bags: Handbags with compartments and pockets for organized storage of makeup, wallets, coin purses, appointment books, and other personal items.
Overnight Bag: A small traveling bag to carry clothing and accessories for staying overnight. Commonly referred to as an overnighter.
Oversized Bag: A bag that is typically larger than traditional handbags.
Patent Leather: An extremely high gloss type of leather finish.
Peau de soie: A dull type of satin used to make evening bags.
Pebbled Grain: an embossed finish that resembles the texture of a pebbled surface.
Perforation: A pattern of small holes punched or bored into the trim of a shoe, for the purpose of decoration or ventilation.
Pigskin Leather: Leather made from the skin of pigs.
Pinking: Saw-tooth shaped edging applied to the trim of shoes for decoration.
Piping: A decorative, narrow strip of leather that typically follows the seam of a shoe.
Pleated: Material folded onto itself and held in place. Normally, it is folded many times to form a series of pleats.
Polyurethane (PU): A man-made material meant to simulate leather. PU is light, flexible and durable. Also known as "synthetic leather."
Polyvinylchlorideurethrane: A man-made material meant to simulate leather. Also known as "synthetic leather."
Portfolio: A leather or fabric case for carrying paper or notebooks. Typically features a flap closure.
Pouch: A gathered or straight bag evening bag typically with a gathered drawstring top closure.
Pull tie: A fabric or leather string that is woven through small holes along the upper circumference of a bag in order to close it. See "drawstring".
Purse Hook or Purse Hanger: A hook-shaped accessory that suspends your handbag from a table to keep it protected from dirty, damage, and theft.
Quilted Bag: A bag quilted in texture. Typically has a chain strap or handle.
Raffia: A finely woven fiber derived from palms.
Reptile: Skins from snakes, turtles and lizards used to make handbags. Reptile is distinguishable by its scaly pattern and texture. Many laws protect endangered reptiles whose skins are used to make illegal bags.
Rhinestones: An imitation gem made of glass, paste or quartz.
Rivet: A flat headed metal pin that is inserted though two pieces of material to join them together. The pin is then hammered on the pointed end to form a flat head, thus securing the pieces together.
Ruched: Trim along the edges that is ruffled or pleated.
Safari: A soft leather bag with a curved shape, a top zipper, two top straps or handles, and two outside pockets with flaps and buckle closures.
Satchel Bag: A bag with a wide, flat bottom, zippered or clasped top, two handles or straps. The satchel style was inspired by a piece of luggage and can be various sizes such as the doctors bag. Losens at the top and usually has a metal frame at the top opening that snaps shut. Can be made of many materials and the side seams form a triangular shape.
Satin: A lustrous, soft fabric with glossy sheen and soft, slippery texture.
School Bag: A roomy bag with a snap, clasp or buckle top flap and one wide shoulder strap; often a thicker variation of the envelope bag.
Scotch Grain: The embossing of leather to create a heavy, pebbled look.
Sequin: Collection of small disks sewn onto cloth to form patterns or completely cover the bag. Disks can be different colors yielding different patterns.
Shearling: Sheepskin or lambskin with the wool still attached. Used often as a lining for shoes and boots.
Sheepskin: Skin from shep, either with or without the wool attached.
Shopper: A bag inspired by a shopping bag, which is sturdy and rectangular with an open top and two strap handles. The inside may have zip compartments. Comes in several varieties shopping, beach etc.
Shoulder Bag: As the name implies this bag is usually carried with a shoulder strap that may have a shoulder guard with the strap.
Shoulder Guard: A piece of fabric or leather that functions to distribute the weight of bag and its contents.
Signature Bag: This type of bag has become well known due to the signature logo affixed to the bag. Typically a well known designer’s logo insures a certain level of quality in the manufacturing and represents that designer’s status within the world of fashion.
Silk: A material used for elegant evening bags, sometimes beading is incorporated.
Sling Bag: Similar to the shoulder bag, but one end of the strap is attached to the top of the bag and the other end is attached to the bottom of the bag. The result is how the bag hangs at an angle.
Smokey Hardware: Hardware with a dark gray/silver hue resembling smoke.
Smooth Leather: Any leather that is smooth on the surface, without pebbling, or noticeable grain.
Speedy: An popular handbag produced by Louis Vuitton. Known for its traditional style and being suitable for a variety of occasions.
Straw: Hand woven willow or rattan used to make summer bags and picnic baskets.
Straw Bags: Handbags made from straw and/or grass materials which can include seagrass, rattan, straw, corn husk, raffia, and willow.
Studs: A decorative metal button attached to a piece of fabric or leather via pointed shanks on its back. These shanks are pushed through the material and hammered or bent so that the stud adheres to the material's surface.
Suede: A treatment applied to the flesh side of a skin to produce a napped, velvet-like finish.
Suitcase: A somewhat flat rectangular-shaped bag with rounded corners, either hard plastic or soft or made of cloth, vinyl or leather that more or less keeps its shape.
Swagger: A roomy, framed bag with two straps or handles, open outside pockets and a zippered or clasped open top.
Tassel: An ornament consisting of a bundle of threads, cords or other strands hanging from a cylindrical head.
Top Grain Leather: The top layer of leather (leather is split into multiple layers before it is used).
Top Handle: A handle that is attached to the top of a bag and designed to be carried in your hands. Top handles are often paired with frame bags. See also frame.
Topstitch: A line of stitching bordering the edge or seam of a material. Topstitching threads can be the same color as the host material, or more often, they are a contrasting color.
Top Zip: Describes a bag with a main opening that can be zipped shut.
Tote: A bag inspired by a shopping bag, which is sturdy and rectangular with an open top and two strap handles. The inside may have zip compartments. Comes in several varieties shopping, beach etc.
Trim: A decorative material along the edges of a handbag.
Vegan: Describes handbags made of synthetic materials. Also known as "Vegetarian"
Vegetarian: Describes handbags made of synthetic materials. Also known as "Vegan"
Velvet: A rich, lustrous fabric used for evening bags.
Wallet: Hard or soft, with zippers or snaps, has compartments for coins, bills, credit cards, etc.
Weekender: A Weekender bag is just a life style. It has no special pattern, as long as can contain clothes for travelling and some storybook to kill the time, it is Weekender one.
Whip stitch: Widely placed stitches over the surface of a fabric or leather as a decorative element or to bind two pieces of material together.
Wristlet: A clutch style handbag, meant to be carried with a wrist strap.
Yoga Mat Bag: A bag specially designed to carry a yoga mat. Yoga mat bags are usually tote or shoulder bags. See also shoulder bag and tote.
Zipper Pull: The top tab on the outward-facing part of a zipper that is pulled to open the zipper.