Everything You Need to Know About Crossbody Bags: Styles, Benefits, and Top Picks

Written by Erin Sullivan

Crossbody bags have become the go-to accessory for so many of us, haven't they? Whether you're running errands, heading to work, or out for a fun night, these bags keep your hands free and your essentials close. They're stylish, practical, and just plain awesome. In this guide, we'll explore everything about crossbody bags—why they're so popular, how to choose the right one, and the best ways to wear them. Ready to find your perfect bag? Let's dive in!

Definition and History of Crossbody Bags

What is a Crossbody Bag?

A crossbody bag is a type of handbag designed with a long strap that allows the bag to be worn diagonally across the body. The strap typically rests on one shoulder, with the bag positioned on the opposite hip. This design ensures a secure and comfortable fit, distributing the weight evenly and allowing for hands-free convenience.

Female model wearing sunglasses carrying crossbody bag

Crossbody bags key features:

 Material: Durability and maintenance are crucial. Popular materials include leather for a classic look, canvas for casual use, and nylon for its water-resistant properties.

  • Size and Capacity: Choose the appropriate size based on what you typically carry. Consider small bags for essentials like phone and wallet, and larger ones for tablets or books.
  • Strap Design: Adjustable straps are essential for comfort. Look for padded straps if you plan to carry the bag for extended periods.
  • Compartments and Organization: Multiple internal and external pockets help keep your belongings organized. Specialized compartments for electronics, water bottles, or other specific items can be very useful.

Historical Background

The design of crossbody bags dates back to ancient times, with early examples like the Roman "loculus," a leather satchel used by soldiers to carry their belongings securely while keeping their hands free.

In the early 20th century, crossbody bags became popular among postal workers for carrying and accessing mail conveniently. This practical design was soon adopted by messengers and couriers for its ease of use.

As fashion evolved, so did crossbody bags. They transitioned from purely functional items to stylish accessories, with designers experimenting with various materials and embellishments. Today, crossbody bags are a staple in both men's and women's wardrobes, blending practicality with modern aesthetics.

Advantages of Using a Crossbody Bag

Practicality and Convenience

One of the main reasons people love crossbody bags is their practicality. They allow you to keep your hands free while you go about your day. Need to check your phone, hold a coffee, or carry shopping bags? No problem—your crossbody bag stays securely in place, making multitasking a breeze.

Another advantage is how easy it is to access your belongings. Unlike a backpack that you have to take off or a shoulder bag that can slip off, a crossbody bag keeps everything right where you need it. Whether you're on a busy street or navigating through a crowded space, your essentials are always within reach.


Crossbody bags are designed for comfort, distributing weight evenly across your body to prevent strain. Ideal for long-term wear, they often feature adjustable and padded straps, ensuring a perfect fit and extra comfort for carrying your essentials.


  • Close to the Body: Crossbody bags are worn close to your body, making it harder for thieves to grab your belongings.
  • Secure Closures: Many designs feature zippers, clasps, and anti-theft mechanisms, ensuring your items stay safe and giving you peace of mind.


  • Casual Outings: Perfect for everyday use, crossbody bags offer a laid-back style that fits any casual occasion.
  • Professional Settings: Sleek designs in leather or faux leather make crossbody bags suitable for work and professional environments.
  • Travel: With features like multiple compartments and RFID protection, crossbody bags are ideal for travel.
  • Special Occasions: Elegant styles and unique designs make them a great accessory for special events.
  • Variety of Materials: Available in various materials like canvas, nylon, and leather, ensuring there's a perfect match for every preference and need.

Different Styles and Types of Crossbody Bags

Female model wearing a crossbody bag standing in front of a white wall


Casual Crossbody Bags

  • Usage: Ideal for daily use, such as running errands, casual outings, or meeting friends.
  • Features: Practical design with multiple pockets and compartments, keeping items organized and easily accessible.
  • Material: Typically made from durable materials like canvas or nylon, built to withstand daily wear and tear.
  • Size: Available in various sizes, from small and lightweight to medium capacity, catering to different carrying needs.
  • Colors and Styles: Diverse range of colors and styles, easily matching various casual outfits.

Formal Crossbody Bags

  • Usage: Suitable for professional or formal settings, such as office work, business meetings, or formal events.
  • Features: Sleek and minimalistic design with fewer pockets to maintain a clean look. Some styles may include locks or zippers for added security.
  • Material: Often made from high-quality materials like genuine leather or faux leather, offering a sophisticated appearance and durability.
  • Size: Generally medium-sized, providing enough space for essentials without being bulky.
  • Colors and Styles: Classic colors like black, brown, or gray, with elegant designs that complement formal attire.

Travel Crossbody Bags

  • Usage: Ideal for travel, offering convenience and security while on the go.
  • Features: Designed with extra compartments for organization, RFID protection for security, and sometimes built-in charging ports.
  • Material: Made from durable and often water-resistant materials like nylon or polyester, ensuring longevity and protection against the elements.
  • Size: Typically larger to accommodate travel essentials, such as passports, maps, snacks, and electronics.
  • Colors and Styles: Available in a variety of colors and styles, with functional designs that prioritize accessibility and ease of use.

Sporty Crossbody Bags

  • Usage: Perfect for active use, such as workouts, outdoor activities, or sports events.
  • Features: Lightweight and durable, often with breathable and moisture-wicking materials. Includes compartments for water bottles, gym gear, and personal items.
  • Material: Made from water-resistant and durable fabrics like nylon or polyester, designed to withstand rigorous use.
  • Size: Generally small to medium-sized, enough to carry essentials without being cumbersome.
  • Colors and Styles: Bright and vibrant colors with sporty designs that complement activewear and athletic gear.

Crossbody Bags vs. Other Types of Bags

1. Crossbody vs. Shoulder Bags:

  • Strap Length and Wearing Style: Crossbody bags feature longer straps designed to be worn across the body, ensuring better weight distribution and hands-free functionality. Shoulder bags have shorter straps, meant to be worn over one shoulder, which can lead to slippage and uneven weight distribution.
  • Use Case: Crossbody bags are ideal for active settings where mobility and security are priorities, while shoulder bags are better suited for more stationary environments or occasions where quick access to contents is needed.

2. Crossbody vs. Sling Bags:

  • Strap and Positioning: Sling bags typically have a single strap that is worn across the chest or back, offering a snug fit against the body. Crossbody bags, with their more balanced design, provide easier access to belongings without needing to remove the bag.
  • Functionality: Sling bags are often used for light activities like biking or hiking, whereas crossbody bags are versatile enough for daily use, travel, and professional settings.

3. Crossbody vs. Backpacks:

  • Load Distribution and Access: Backpacks are designed to carry heavier loads on both shoulders, which can be more comfortable for extended wear. However, accessing items in a backpack typically requires removing it, unlike the easy access provided by crossbody bags.
  • Bulk and Mobility: Crossbody bags offer a more streamlined profile, making them less cumbersome and more suitable for crowded or dynamic environments.

4. Crossbody vs. Tote Bags:

  • Capacity and Design: Tote bags offer a large open compartment, making them excellent for carrying bulkier items or numerous small items. However, they lack the security features of crossbody bags, such as secure closures and the ability to be worn hands-free.
  • Practicality and Security: Crossbody bags are preferable for scenarios requiring enhanced security and mobility, while tote bags are better for situations where carrying capacity and ease of access to contents are prioritized.

How to Choose the Right Crossbody Bag

Crossbody bag on the table
  1. Assessing Your Needs: Determine whether you need the bag for daily use, special occasions, travel, or specific activities. Consider the items you will be carrying regularly, such as a phone, wallet, keys, or a tablet, and choose a bag that fits those needs. Think about the frequency of use and the practicality of the bag's features.
  2. Personal Style and Aesthetics:Match the bag to your wardrobe and personal style. Consider whether you prefer a classic, modern, or trendy design. Pay attention to details like color, shape, and embellishments. Evaluate how the bag complements your usual attire and whether it aligns with your fashion preferences.
  3. Budget Considerations: Balance cost with quality. Decide if you're looking for an affordable option or willing to invest in a high-quality piece that will last longer. Consider factors like materials, brand reputation, and craftsmanship. Sometimes spending a bit more upfront can save money in the long run if the bag is durable and versatile.

Tips for Wearing and Styling Crossbody Bags

When you wear crossbody bags, you can easily pair them with casual outfits like jeans and dresses for a laid-back look. For professional settings, opt for sleek, leather crossbody bags in classic colors such as black or brown to complement business attire. For special occasions, choose elegant designs with unique embellishments or metallic finishes to add a touch of sophistication to your evening wear.

Care and Maintenance of Crossbody Bags

  1. Cleaning Tips: Different materials require different cleaning methods. To clean leather bags, use a gentle cleaner and conditioner to keep the material supple and prevent cracking. Canvas and nylon bags can often be spot-cleaned with mild soap and water. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.
  2. Storage Tips: Store your crossbody bags in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent fading and damage. Use dust bags to protect them from dust and dirt. To maintain the bag's shape, stuff it with tissue paper or a soft cloth when not in use.
  3. Repair and Longevity: Address common issues like broken zippers or frayed edges promptly to extend the life of your bag. Consider professional repair services for significant damage. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and conditioning, will keep your crossbody bag looking new for years.

Common Questions and Misconceptions

Q: Are crossbody bags the same as bum bags?

A: No, bum bags (or fanny packs) are worn around the waist, typically resting on the hips or lower back. Crossbody bags, on the other hand, are worn across the body with the strap resting on one shoulder, allowing for hands-free convenience and better weight distribution.

Q: Are crossbody bags comfortable?

A: Yes, they are designed for even weight distribution across the body, which makes them comfortable for long-term wear. The adjustable straps ensure that the bag can be tailored to fit your body shape, reducing strain on the shoulders and back.

Q: Are crossbody bags safe from thieves?

A: Generally, yes. Their close-to-body design and secure closures make them safer against theft. Many crossbody bags also feature anti-theft elements such as hidden zippers, lockable compartments, and RFID protection to safeguard your belongings.

Q:Are crossbody bags big enough for a water bottle?

A:Many crossbody bags are designed with various compartments and sizes to accommodate essentials, including water bottles. When choosing a bag, check the size and specific features to ensure it meets your needs for carrying a water bottle or other items.

Q: Are crossbody bags just for women?

A: No, crossbody bags are available in styles suitable for everyone, regardless of gender. Many brands offer unisex designs, and the practical, hands-free style of crossbody bags appeals to a broad range of users.

Q: Are crossbody bags a passing trend?

A: No, they have been popular for centuries and continue to be a staple in modern fashion. From the traditional messenger bags of ancient times to the stylish designs seen today, crossbody bags remain a versatile and timeless accessory.

Q: Are crossbody bags good for tall people?

A: Yes, especially if they come with adjustable straps to fit different body types. The ability to customize the strap length ensures that the bag sits comfortably across the body, regardless of height.

Q: Can crossbody bags be used for travel?

A: Absolutely. Crossbody bags are perfect for travel due to their convenience and se


Erin Sullivan

Erin Sullivan is a renowned American fashion blogger known for her keen eye on the latest trends in handbags. With years of experience, she expertly reviews and showcases a variety of stylish bags, offering valuable insights and fashion tips to her followers.

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