Versatile bucket bags carry their weight

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, April 24, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Slouchy can be stylish — when it comes to a woman's handbag.

A less-structured bucket bag purse is perfect for spring and summer.

“Bucket bags are really popular this time of year, because they are fun and appropriate for spring and summer and because they are a little more casual than a structured bag,” says Laurel Pantin, market editor at Lucky magazine.

“And they can hold a lot of items, and you will have what you need for the day,” she says. “They are perfect for the beach. These bags come in all materials, from leather to patchwork fabrics. Some are even washable, which is definitely a plus.”

However, women often overstuff these bags, Pantin says. Bucket bags need to be filled out somewhat to give them shape, she says, but “at the end of the day, you should go through the bag and take out what you don't need rather than lugging it all with you the next day. One day, I noticed I had so much stuff, I couldn't really close the bag.”

Women want style, comfort, durability and spaciousness in a handbag, says Monroeville purse designer Christina Roselle, who recently introduced her Butter Bean collection.

“Butter Bean combines repurposed interior-design fabrics with high-quality leather and construction to create one-of-a-kind bags, each as unique as the wearer herself,” Roselle says.

“It is a handbag that is around season after season,” Pantin says. “What's new and fresh each season is how they are designed, from varying colors to multiple pattern options.

And they make for the go-to bag to throw in your sneakers and gym clothes, Pantin says.

That's what Marissa Rubin, senior market editor for People StyleWatch, does, as well as tossing in other daily necessities.

“I have been carrying a bucket bag even when they weren't in style,” Rubin says. “It is a great day bag. I prefer one that is simple and plain, and I even have one in a cross-body style.”

There are many bucket-bag options, including leather — faux and real — as well as ethnic-inspired prints and patterns, Rubin says.

“I prefer it over the messenger bag or classic tote,” Rubin says. “I can also carry a lot in my bucket bag, even an extra pair of shoes. It feels very relevant.”

She says some women might not like this bag style because it doesn't have an actual closure like other handbags, and they worry items might fall out.

That can happen but won't if you keep the bag upright, Rubin says. If you decide to carry one to the office, go with a neutral color, a large body and shorter straps.

The slouchy bag is inspired by comfortable, sporty fashions seen on the runway, says Elizabeth Kane, director of advertising and public relations at Dooney & Bourke.

“Less structured bags have open, roomy interiors that are ideal for carrying all those little extras, like a book, iPad or a pair of flats,” Kane says. “Everyone loves extra storage space.

“The bucket bag is an extremely versatile style that can be dressed up or down,” she says. “It's the perfect choice for those who don't want to change their handbags from workdays to weekends.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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