What Is A Satchel Bag? Learn How To Style It

by Sara Wennerstrom / Nov 17, 2022

From the crossbody vs. shoulder bag distinction to the seemingly endless options for tote bags, you can find yourself swimming in a sea of questions about handbag styles. Satchels are yet another model to add to an ever-growing collection of purses. This versatile bag is one you’ve likely seen before but maybe didn’t have the vocabulary to point out with confidence. Keep reading to learn what makes a satchel bag and why this style stands out.


What is a satchel bag?


A satchel bag is a mid to large-size bag, usually structured with a flat bottom and two short handles on the top, reminiscent of a shoulder bag. Similar in style and function to a leather briefcase, it often features an adjustable crossbody strap. This way, you can wear it diagonally across the body or hang it languidly along one side of your person.


The bag type can also feature a flap that lifts up, thanks to its history as a schoolboy bag. In recent decades, the bag has become quite fashionable and boasts a host of uses. Its roomy interior still makes it perfect for handling several items at once.


Satchel bag vs. other handbags: what's the difference?


So what distinguishes a satchel bag from designs like a tote bag or messenger bag? The biggest difference is the key identifying features mentioned above, like structure and shape. A tote bag is often less structured, unable to sit upright on its own, and it’s usually a carry-all bag without different compartments to organize your belongings. And totes are typically rectangular.


The material is crucial in the differentiation as well. For example, satchel bags are commonly leather, while a tote can be leather but can also be cotton or canvas. The most common material of a messenger bag (the bag hanging across your body) is canvas. There are instances where you can find nylon as the material for both totes and satchels.


Ultimately, due to the satchel's origins, it can convey an elevated business professional appearance that lets you carry your laptops and books effortlessly. With the satchel’s cover that forms a flap, you have extra protection when accessing the contents of your bag. The tote can, however, feature a zipper at the top and interior pockets. So the tote can function and act similarly, making it suitable for the same purposes, but it depends on the style and material.


crossbody purse in burgundy

The Armonica Bag 


The best material for satchel bags


Though the leather satchel is classic for carrying books and your professional belongings, other materials are great for this bag worn over your shoulder or across your body.


  • Leather. A quality leather bag is ideal for any style of handbag since it’s timeless in appearance and can stand the test of time. Leather satchel bags are reminiscent of their utilitarian and scholarly origins, but depending on the design, you can go beyond the limitations of “business professional.” When you invest in a leather satchel, you commit to years with your arm-side companion.


  • Nylon. A nylon satchel is for those who want a more rough-and-tumble bag that can brave wet weather. Plus, satchel bags made of this material often require less of an investment, so it’s a short-term wardrobe fixture and less of a staple piece. It’s a good choice for the gym or outdoor activities outside of the office.


  • Vegan leather. A well-made vegan leather bag gives you all of the benefits of a leather bag with an eco-friendly edge. This bag type has the charm and elegance of leather, making it a perfect dupe for the real thing. At Senreve, we combine the latest advancements in synthetic manufacturing with our sustainable business practices to ensure we meet our eco-friendly values.


  • Suede. Though suede is perhaps a less common choice of material for a satchel bag, it’s still not uncommon. Suede is also a durable material and conveys a luxurious quality to it. It’s lightweight, but it does require some maintenance and weather protection.


How to choose the best color for you


Here, you’ll learn how to pick the best color satchel bag for your needs.


  • Commit to one color. While it’s tempting to dabble around with multi-colored bags, it’s a good idea to stick with one color for an everyday bag. Since the satchel bag can take you to and from work, keep it a solid color to match most of your wardrobe.


  • Opt for neutral colors. To ensure your satchel goes with everything, try a neutral-colored bag. If you go neutral, then you can wear that bright red dress and trust that your black bag will compliment it perfectly.  


  • Go gray. A gray-colored satchel bag falls into the neutral category, and specifically, going for a gray satchel bag lets you opt for a muted neutral. A gray satchel bag can blend into the background or take center stage, depending on how you choose to accessorize it.


  • Match it to your wardrobe. Not every wardrobe looks the same, so while neutral is a safe bet for a lot of different wardrobes, you can select the hue that’s right for you. If you love bold, warm colors, a red satchel bag might be the perfect pairing for your collection of clothes.


  • Highlight a pop of color. If you lean more on the vibrant side of outfit selection, give your bag a subtle pop of color. You can ditch the idea of a single-color bag and try a bag in a solid neutral hue that also pays homage to color with a pop of pink.


a satchel bag in camel

The Maestra in Pebbled Chestnut


How to style a satchel bag


Below, you’ll find out how to style a satchel bag to make the most of this special handbag.  


  • Try changeable straps. A lot of satchel bags give you the option to switch up your straps. So you can add a long strap or an adjustable strap in leather or acetate chain links, depending on your preferences. Senreve offers a variety of single-clasp and double-clasp chains and straps.


  • Accessorize. If you do go for a neutral bag and want to shake it up occasionally, you can try accessories with it. With our Maestra bag in the shade noir, you can wear it as a satchel, tote, crossbody, or backpack, so it isn’t defined by handbag labels. Already, this handbag is unique, but you can add a splash of color to accessorize this accessory with a Milli Maestra in the shade merlot attached to its larger companion.


  • Tie a scarf around the handle. For another way to experiment with your satchel bag, you can tie a scarf around the top handles. Wrap the straps in our Women of the World scarf to connect yourself to the powerful women who inspired the vibrant design.


Find a bag that suits you


The satchel bag is a timeless handbag style for people on the go, but it’s so much more than a utilitarian purse. The satchel can be bold, daring, and still practical. You can find a satchel bag that suits your vibrant lifestyle, so you always have everything you need within arm’s reach. For ideas and inspiration for the satchel and beyond, explore Senreve’s collection of bestsellers to invest in the bag built for you.