What is a Barrel Bag Purse? Learn How To Style It

by Sara Wennerstrom / Nov 17, 2022

When you have a host of classic handbag styles of varying shapes and sizes, you can effortlessly conquer any occasion. Now, you’re likely familiar with the classics like crossbody purses, clutches, and totes, as well as trendy add-ons like belt bags. But other bags in unique shapes can offer just as much function with an added dash of joie de vivre.


A prime example is the barrel bag: the elevated relation of the duffel bag and a distant cousin of the circle bag. Here, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the barrel bag purse: a one-of-a-kind handbag.


What is a barrel bag?


A barrel bag is oblong-shaped; this is the primary identifying factor of the style. It usually features two straps jutting out of the top of the bag; therefore, you can carry it as a top handle or shoulder purse. The bag sometimes offers an additional shoulder strap that you can adjust for a crossbody bag. Barrel bags offer versatility thanks to these qualities.


How is a barrel bag used?


A barrel bag lends itself to a multitude of uses, but here are the most common:


  • Travel. Thanks to the elongated size of the barrel bag – this shape certainly takes inspiration from the duffel bag – it can make for an excellent travel bag. Depending on the size of the bag, though, you might want to opt to take a barrel bag for a weekend away rather than an international getaway.


  • Outdoor adventures. If you enjoy outdoor activities and need a bag to carry your essentials, then the barrel bag can make for a perfect nature walk companion. It can fit the basics and a few extras if you opt for a larger size. Material matters here, too: If you want to explore the great outdoors, bring a nylon bag with you instead of a luxurious leather one.


  • Gym. Similar to outdoor activities, you can carry the bag for after-work gym runs. It can hold your workout clothes and headphones along with your essentials. Again, though leather can be durable, nylon lets you throw your bag into a gym locker room without worrying about scuff marks or damaging the material.


  • Day trips. The barrel bag, especially in leather, can elevate your outfit, making it perfect for brunch or a quick adventure with friends. It’s structured and sophisticated looking, so you can take advantage of its style and charm by pairing it with heeled boots and a blazer.


black barrel bag by senreve

The Barrel Bag in Pebbled Noir


Choosing the right barrel bag


There are several factors to consider when choosing the right barrel bag. Here are the most important ones when selecting the right barrel bag for you.


  • Sizing. You can often find the purse in the regular or mini size. The mini is probably better for a girl’s night out, while the regular can act as your weekender bag.


  • Color. If you go for a neutral hue, you can pair the purse with virtually any ensemble. But if you tend to favor bold colors and patterns, make a statement with an unforgettably beautiful fuschia.


  • Material. You can’t go wrong with leather or high-quality vegan leather for a barrel bag, thanks to the sophistication and durability of the material. But you can consider something more suited to knocking around if you’re interested in more rugged outdoor and indoor activities.


  • Storage. If you identify your needs first, you can determine if the bag matches your criteria. Does it have a large enough main compartment with a secure clasp to keep your belongings safe? Also, does it feature zippered pockets to tuck away credit cards or a slim wallet? Work from there to determine if a barrel bag is right for you.


How to style a barrel bag


Below, you’ll find several inspiring outfit ideas to help you style your barrel bag.


Classic in black


For a polished and poised look, you can wear an all-black outfit – complete with a black barrel bag. You can combine black cigarette pants with a black turtleneck, strappy kitten heels, and Senreve’s Barrel bag in the noir shade. The bag’s silhouette is a showstopper and the perfect finishing touch to this ultra-stylish ensemble. It also features a magnetic flap closure, and it’s perfectly proportioned to fit your iPhone and essentials.




Try wearing the barrel bag with a flowing floral print dress and gladiator-style sandals to create a bohemian look that’ll turn heads. For this style, you can go for warm earth tones and stick with a brown shade for the purse. You can also play with the bag’s material, opting for a wicker material instead of classic leather.


Casual chic  


For a leisurely walk and shopping with friends, you can go casual chic with flattering denim jeans, a crisp white tee, sneakers, and Senreve’s Mini Barrel bag. The Mini can still fit your iPhone, keys, and a slim wallet in the same iconic style.


Vacation mode


When going on shorter vacations, you can use your barrel bag as an overnight bag or your personal item on the plane. Then when you get to your destination, you can use the bag as your everyday bag for sightseeing. Imagine pairing a neutral hue leather barrel bag with a T-shirt dress, sun hat, and tennis shoes; you’ll have the perfect travel outfit.  


cream colored barrel bag by senreve

The Barrel Bag in Pebbled Cream with the Pearl Shoulder Chain


How to accessorize your barrel bag


OK – now, you have the outfits, but how can you take your bag up a notch?


  • Try a print. When you want to make a statement with your arm candy, you can try a vibrant print instead of a monochromatic neutral hue. The print brings a pop to your outfit that can attract attention from across the room.


  • Wrap the handles in a printed scarf. To bring a playful pattern to your bag, you can keep it simple with one color and wrap the handle in a printed scarf. This way, you can change up the bag without committing to one eccentric style. With a Senreve Women of the World scarf, you can elevate your everyday look and instill confidence in you like the women who inspired it.



  • Add some purse charms. When you clip on a delightful addition to your bag’s strap or strap rings, you can showcase your personality. With Senreve’s Octopi pendant, you can clip it onto your favorite purse, swapping it in and out with other charms to suit the moment as you see fit.


Alternatives to the barrel bag


If you want something similar to the barrel bag, you can opt for the doctor bag, duffel bag, or circle bag. Though none of them are exactly the same, the duffel is the closest in shape, but it’s less sophisticated and reserved for travel and trips to the gym. The doctor bag may come from different origins, but it has a comparable size, structure, and sophistication. The circle is more compact and traditionally rounded, but it offers another option for a unique silhouette.


Take your look to the next level


Your repertoire of bags is a reflection of your multifaceted lifestyle. And when you find a bag that’s as unique and capable as you are, it’s an immediate favorite – moved to the front of the lineup. The barrel bag is the style you’ll find yourself reaching for again and again. You can try something new by exploring Senreve’s collection of bestsellers to expand your horizons.